Thursday, September 27, 2012


Hiwassee Dam

"Located just east of the Tennessee-North Carolina border, the Hiwassee Dam impounds the headwaters of an important tributary of the Tennessee River.   It is a 307-foot high, 1.287 foot-long, straight-crested concrete gravity dam with a generating capacity of more than 110,000 kilowatts.  Although the structure’s gravity design is rather ordinary from an engineering point of view, the Moderne fa├žade developed by Roland Wank and the TVA architectural staff is quite stunning.  By applying a smooth, starkly handsome veneer to the dam’s downstream side, Wank created a design that makes the bulky, massive proportions of the structure appear both functional and architectural at the same time.  The Hiwassee Dam continues to serve as a major component of the TVA system."

From:  Donald C. Jackson:  Great American Bridges and Dams (New York, John Wiley & Sons, 1988)

The Hiwassee Dam is really quite something, isn't it?

Edgar F. Pohlmann, Engineering Aide, Hiwassee Dam

Hiwassee Dam under construction


I knew very little about dams before discussing them with Professor Jackson, a world expert in the subject (we went to college together) a long time ago.  But our conversations resonated with me at various points later during my education (especially when I was studying ancient Near Eastern civilizations in art history graduate school) and they continue to do so.  Dams are crucial.

Fellow Hiwassee Dam engineers and personnel

Seeing the photographs here, mostly taken from the Archives in the Attic Documents of the Great Depression from Family Collections (Link) website, humanizes and proximates the Hiwassee project a little for me; makes the dam's creation and construction more vivid.

It's been years since I've spoken to Professor Jackson, but I consult his excellent book frequently when I armchair travel in search of places, things, spirits and even people I semi-sense, but would like better to visualize and virtually visit.  


As the song says, "That's Entertainment."  You may approach things differently, of course.

Link:  Richard and Linda Thompson -- Withered and Died (Live 1982 Performance !! ) 

NOTE:  The name Hiwassee is derived from the Cherokee word Ayuhwasi, meaning "savanna" or "large meadow". The name has been applied to several entities past and present in the U.S. states of Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee.

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