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Tue January 14, 2014
Kentucky Dam: Power for the People
This documentary originally aired Sunday, June 2nd, 2013.
This documentary is a 2013 National Sigma Delta Chi Award Winner given by the Society of Professional Journalists.
In first segment, we go back to a western Kentucky before the dam; a place where the roads are dirt, agriculture is vulnerable to a tempestuous Tennessee River, and electricity is confined to a handful of communities in the region. Today's experts and archival audio relate how local and national leaders came to recognize the need for a dam on the lower Tennessee, one that not only allowed reliable river navigation and flood control, but could also provide electric power. We also get a look at the political wrangling and the Supreme Court case that tested whether the dam could even be built.
In the second segment, the men and women who built the dam tell their stories in archival recordings. We find out how construction affected race relations in the region, and that property acquisition for the reservoir drove families off of land they had lived on for generations. We round the segment out with archival audio of the October 10th, 1945 Kentucky Dam dedication by President Harry S. Truman.
In our final segment, we hear how the dam's completion spurred economic growth throughout western Kentucky. We'll also tour the dam today to get a picture of how a dam built over three-quarters of a century ago is facing future challenges. The program ends with a consideration of Kentucky Dam's mixed legacy.