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"A closer look at the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and how it works to control water flow in the Tennessee Valley in this Department of Interior video.
Part 1 shows rain storms and flooded streams, the flooded Tennessee River valley, Norris Dam and Wilson Dam, and a panorama of eroded land. Phosphate fertilizer is made in an electric furnace at Muscle Shoals, is bagged, and is shipped to the farmer. Contrasts productivity of fertilized and non-fertilized land. Part 2 shows crops and cattle on a farm, a delegation of farmers conferring with a county agent, the power house at Wilson Dam, electric power lines and towers, a reservoir, and a close-up of an electric light burning. A farmer installs an electric stove in his home."
Public domain film from the US Interior Department (via the National Archives), slightly cropped to remove uneven edges, with the aspect ratio corrected, and mild video noise reduction applied.
The soundtrack was also processed with volume normalization, noise reduction, clipping reduction, and/or equalization (the resulting sound, though not perfect, is far less noisy than the original).
The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is a federally owned corporation in the United States created by congressional charter in May 1933 to provide navigation, flood control, electricity generation, fertilizer manufacturing, and economic development in the Tennessee Valley, a region particularly affected by the Great Depression. The enterprise was a result of the efforts of Senator George W. Norris of Nebraska. TVA was envisioned not only as a provider, but also as a regional economic development agency that would use federal experts and electricity to rapidly modernize the region's economy and society.
TVA's service area covers most of Tennessee, portions of Alabama, Mississippi, and Kentucky, and small slices of Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia. It was the first large regional planning agency of the federal government and remains the largest. Under the leadership of David Lilienthal ("Mr. TVA"), TVA became a model for America's governmental efforts to seek to assist in the modernization of agrarian societies in the developing world...
Even by Depression standards, the Tennessee Valley was economically dismal in 1933. Thirty percent of the population was affected by malaria, and the average income was only $639 per year, with some families surviving on as little as $100 per year. Much of the land had been farmed too hard for too long, eroding and depleting the soil. Crop yields had fallen along with farm incomes. The best timber had been cut, with another 10% of forests being burnt each year.
TVA was designed to modernize the region, using experts and electricity to combat human and economic problems. TVA developed fertilizers, taught farmers ways to improve crop yields and helped replant forests, control forest fires, and improve habitat for fish and wildlife. The most dramatic change in Valley life came from TVA-generated electricity. Electric lights and modern home appliances made life easier and farms more productive. Electricity also drew industries into the region, providing desperately needed jobs. The TVA revitalized a vast area of ruined rural America by building dams to provide cheap electricity.
None of this was easy. The development of the dams displaced more than 15,000 families. This created anti-TVA sentiment in some rural communities. Many local landowners were suspicious of government agencies. But TVA successfully introduced new agricultural methods into traditional farming communities by blending in and finding local champions.
A Tennessee farmer would not take advice from an official in a suit and tie, so TVA officials had to find leaders in the communities and convince them that crop rotation and the judicious application of fertilizers could restore soil fertility. Once they had convinced the leaders, the rest followed.
At its inception, TVA was based in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, but later moved its headquarters to Knoxville, Tennessee, where they remain today. At one point, TVA's headquarters were housed in the Old Federal Customs House at the corner of Clinch Avenue and Market Street. The building is now a museum.
The unemployed were hired for conservation, economic development, and social programs such as a library service that operated for the surrounding area. The professional staff headquarters was composed of experts from outside the region. The workers were categorized into the usual racial and gender lines of the day. TVA hired a few African-Americans for janitorial positions. TVA recognized labor unions... Women were excluded from construction work...