An article by:

Chase Brasher

Release date:

08/25/17

2:21 pm

Kentucky Lake and the Dam that Made it

Currently, Andreas is continuing his swim on the Tennessee River and quickly approaching the Tennessee-Kentucky state line. He is entering Kentucky Lake, the 5th largest freshwater man made lake in the United States (and at one point the largest), covering more than 160,000 acres. It also backs up the Tennessee River for 184 miles. The lake was created by the Tennessee Valley Authority when it built Kentucky Dam to improve river navigation and as a response to the historic 1937 flood.

Construction began on July 1, 1938 and lasted for over 6 years until its completion on August 30, 1944. The project cost a staggering $118 million, but the results are magnificent. The dam is over a mile long at 8,422 feet and stands 206 feet high. You need a dam of this caliber when you realize all the responsibilities it must undertake when facing the forces of the Tennessee River.

As mentioned earlier, the 1937 flood helped to foster support for the creation of Kentucky Dam along with many other TVA projects brought about from the Flood Control Act of 1938. Kentucky Dam plays an integral part in helping control the flooding of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers that the Tennessee River eventually flows into. The dam can even temporarily shut off the flow of the Tennessee River. Another big project of TVA is power production through the use of hydroelectric dams. Kentucky Dam is no different. It houses 5 turbine generators which produce 1.3 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity a year.

Finally, it is important to make note of the lock on Kentucky Dam that is vital to the river industry. Easily accomplishing the task of lifting and lowering towboats and their barges the difference of 55 feet, the lock is essential for the over 31 million tons of  freight traffic that it sees each year. Every month, the lock sees more than 2,000 barges as a variety of different cargo make their way to their destination.

Kentucky Lake and Kentucky Dam are significant in how they have transformed life in the Four Rivers Region. They have helped to save lives and property from the sometimes dangerous power of the river, powered homes, and foster an industrial background to the economy in the area. With all this work, there is just as much recreation. Come back tomorrow to read about another landmark that Andreas will pass, the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area.

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