The Tennessee Valley Authority celebrated 90 years with a rare tour of the Pickwick Landing Dam facility for a select group of about 25 people on Friday.
The group was selected from a pool of 1,000 applicants.
Nebraska Senator George Norris first introduced the Tennessee Valley Authority Act in 1933 President Franklin Roosevelt signed it into law in May of that year. It provided electricity and mechanisms for flood control and navigation to one of the poorest regions in the nation. The entity also planted trees and introduced new fertilizers and tested new farming methods that were adopted across the country and around the world.
"Engineers and construction workers began an aggressive schedule to build a series of eight dams," said TVA West Regions Communications Representative Julia Wise. "They would control flooding, provide a channel to the Ohio and Mississippi rivers for navigation of goods and generate a little clean power while we were at it."
Today, TVA operates 49 dams with 29 of them producing hydro electric power.
Pickwick Dam opened Units 1 and 2 in 1938, Units 3 and 4 in 1942 and Units 5 and 6 in 1952. TVA built the dam and one lock from 1935-38 and the bridge over the dam was added in 1962. The bridge is currently undergoing a huge renovation project.
"The plant produces enough power to supply 250,000 homes with green, sustainable energy," said Pickwick Dam Manager Wes Stovall, as Pickwick Dam provides power for Tishomingo County in Mississippi and Hardin and McNairy counties in Tennessee. "The dam is producing 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Producing power is just a nice side effect."
The rotating mass of six generators inside the facility is about 950 tons, according to Stovall.
TVA provides electricity to 153 local power companies and over 55 direct-served industries.
The entity paid back the money it owed the government and stopped receiving federal funds in 1999.