The Tennessee Valley Authority

Cameron Lee Cowan
4 min readJun 11, 2019

The TVA or Tennessee Valley Authority was one of the biggest infrastructure projects in US history. Although President Roosevelt had to buck the idea of socialism to get it passed, it dramatically improved the region and ultimately the country. The TVA was and remains a government agency. At the time most electric companies were private enterprises. The TVA was a big change in this area with more cities adopting a municipal-owned system that would later change with deregulation in the 1980s. The TVA made a huge advancement in jobs, reducing poverty and improving life. Most importantly, it shows that can be done with infrastructure when governmentcomes together with great policy.

Hard Years

Before the TVA happened, the whole region was very depressed. Even before the depression, most people did not have electricity and water had to be carried by hand oftentimes. Some people had telephones but no power. The average income was just $2,400 in today’s money. Most people worked in agriculture which was a difficult industry, especially with the unexpected flooding from uncontrolled rivers. The land had been over-farmed causing crop yields to decrease and most of the forests had already been harvested. The area was economically depressed and backwards.

However, that all changed with the Tennessee Valley Authority Act in 1933.

The TVA was created to improve the economy of the area and greatly improve the farms. The TVA dammed rivers to create electricity and control flooding. Modern fertilizers were introduced as well, improving farming. Forests were replanted for long-term sustainability. This, of course, provided thousands of jobs in an already impoverished region.

Although the TVA created some resentment, especially from communities that simply did not trust the government or from the 15,000 families displaced by the damming of rivers and the creation of lakes; ultimately, with local champions, the TVA became quite popular.

Better Life with the TVA

The TVA allowed people to dramatically better their lives by getting electric appliances. Wood stoves were replaced with electric heaters. Stoves became electric as well. It bettered the life of everyone and businesses thrived, not just from the new power but…

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Cameron Lee Cowan

Creative Director of The Cameron Journal. Culture, political commentary, and much more!