"If we are successful here we can
march on, step by step; in a like development of other great natural
territorial units within our borders."
Message to Congress on the Tennessee Valley Authority
January 15, 1940
publicity has been given by the press and in other Ways to the power
development feature of the work of the Tennessee Valley Authority that it
is fair to assume that many of our citizens and even Government officials
hold a belief that the purpose of the Act creating the Authority was
primarily the development of electric power.
perhaps time to call attention to this utter fallacy.
original legislation, based on my recommendation to the Congress in 1933,
was intended-in part as an experimental project--to raise the standards of
life by increasing social and economic advantages in a given area, in this
case the whole of the watershed which runs into the Tennessee River and
including portions of many States.
this objective meant the elimination of very large annual damage to life
and property as a result of floods; and, therefore, it was planned to build
a series of dams in the Tennessee River and on some of its many
tributaries. The building of such dams would, it was figured, reduce
property damage which had averaged $20,000,000 a year for a long time. The
building of such dams would also make possible the production of a large
amount of electric power and would also afford barge navigation for many
hundreds of miles up the river.
Furthermore, the original objective of the law included many
other things, such as the planting of water-retaining forests near the
headwaters of the many rivers and streams, the terracing of farm hillsides,
the building of small check-dams, the development of fertilizer, the
diversification of crops and other soil building methods, the improvement
of highways and other forms of transportation, the bringing in of small
industries, the extension of rural electric lines, and many other similar
words, it is time that people should understand that power development was
only a part--and ultimately only a relatively small part--of a great social
and economic experiment in one of our major watersheds.
time to time I have transmitted to the Congress special reports from the
Tennessee Valley Authority relating to special subjects in the progress of
this great task. I am transmitting herewith the latest of these reports, a
monograph on the "Recreation Development of the Tennessee River
System." This summarizes "the results that have been accomplished
through certain experiments and demonstrations in this field and contains
specific conclusions and recommendations with respect to additional
legislation on this subject." It is coming to be realized more and
more that in the improvement of our American civilization we cannot stop at
hospitals and schools any more than we can confine ourselves to strictly
economic subjects. Recreation in its broad sense is a definite factor in
the improvement of the bodies and minds of our future citizens.
that this report, which is only one of many the Tennessee Valley Authority
has made from time to time, will dispel any erroneous impression that the
Tennessee Valley Authority's work is concerned principally with the mere
development of electric power.
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