“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Muscle Shoals in Colbert County, Alabama — The American South (East South Central)

Wilson Dam

Wilson Dam Marker image. Click for full size.
By Sandra Hughes, January 16, 2017
1. Wilson Dam Marker
Inscription. During the 19th Century, Muscle Shoals, the shallow but often-flooded rapids of this section of the Tennessee River, impeded navigation, steamboat traffic and agriculture, so the federal government explored the possibility of opening the channel to commerce through construction of the dam. The U.S. Corps of engineers began construction of Wilson Dam in 1918, and it began producing power after fiscal fits and starts, in 1925.

The possibility of American's entry to World War I and the ensuring need for munition nitrates spurred construction of Wilson Dam to power nitrate production. Federal engineers selected Muscle Shoals as the construction site because it had the most potential for water power east of the Rocky Mountains. Wilson Dam was only partially completed when the war ended and did not contribute to the outcome, but the nitrates were used for fertilizer in post-war New Deal programs like the Tennessee Valley Authority, which was charged with revitalizing agriculture in the struggling south. (You can learn more about the competition for ownership of the facilities here at signs near the hydroelectric plant.)

The plans for Wilson Dam worked. Flooding has been reduced. Fertilizers developed here spurred agricultural practices that led to revitalization of North Alabama’s, and the South's agricultural production.
Wilson Dam Marker image. Click for full size.
By Sandra Hughes, January 16, 2017
2. Wilson Dam Marker
Barges caring goods pass through the 54 million-gallon lock chamber, completing the 652 mile navigation of the Tennessee River between Paducah, Kentucky, and Knoxville, Tennessee, The dam provides clean, affordable power to surrounding communities. And the fishing is pretty good, too. In 1966 the U. S. Department of Interior designated Wilson dam as a National Historic Landmark.
Location. 34° 47.615′ N, 87° 37.844′ W. Marker is in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, in Colbert County. Touch for map. Marker is locted in Rock Pile Park along the Tennessee River. Marker is in this post office area: Muscle Shoals AL 35661, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Home Sweet Home (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Muscle Shoals National Recreational Trail (approx. 0.2 miles away); Wilson Dam: Cornerstone of the TVA System (approx. ¼ mile away); Wilson Dam: Setting the Stage (approx. ¼ mile away); Natural and Cultural Preservation/Protecting Resources (approx. ¼ mile away); TVA: A History of Progress and Innovation / A Valley of Hardships (approx. ¼ mile away); Building a New Future (approx. ¼ mile away); TVA Goes to War (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Muscle Shoals.
Categories. Man-Made FeaturesWar, World IWaterways & Vessels
Credits. This page was last revised on July 18, 2017. This page originally submitted on July 17, 2017, by Sandra Hughes of Killen, Usa. This page has been viewed 149 times since then and 51 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on July 17, 2017, by Sandra Hughes of Killen, Usa. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.
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