Effects of the Great Depression hit the Tennessee River Valley fiercely, forcing Congress to pass the Tennessee Valley Authority Act in 1933 in an effort to rejuvenate the region. The Act established the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), which oversaw the development of resources within the entire valley. It mainly focused on the construction of dams to generate, sell, and distribute electrical power in a manner that minimized waste production. With access to electricity, farmers were able to use newer, more efficient technologies to improve yield, and industries began moving into the valley, increasing employment.
The TVA was also responsible for controlling flooding, improving navigation, aiding the region's national defense strategies, conserving land, helping farmers reestablish crops, improving education, holding off disease, and rejuvenating the economy. The TVA worked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to supply farmers with improved fertilizers and to teach them new soil and water conservation methods and fertility-building strategies. In coalition with the USDA Forest Service, they worked on replanting forests in the hopes of minimizing erosion and rebuilding the region.
The TVA increased employment in the region not only by hiring residents to work on its projects, but also by establishing job training programs to help workers find jobs outside the TVA. Today, the TVA supplies seven states through eleven fossil fuel plants, 29 hydroelectric dams, three nuclear power plants, six combustion turbine plants, a pumped-storage facility, and 17,000 miles of transmission lines, making it the biggest power company in the nation.
Tennessee Valley Authority Act: Summary (USNews.com)
Tennessee Valley Authority Act: Full Text (Tennessee Valley Authority)
Tennessee Valley Authority Homepage
About the Tennessee Valley Authority (New Deal Network)