The History of the Chickamauga Dam
Before the Chickamauga Dam, Chattanooga, the valley's most flood-prone city, suffered from massive economic damage and mosquito-borne health crises because of the untamed river.
The construction of the dam and its reservoir would require the purchase of over 61,000 acres of land. Because of construction, more than 900 families, 24 cemeteries and 81 miles of roads had to be relocated.
The tip of Chickamauga Island was chosen for the dam, which was authorized December 31, 1935. Construction began just two weeks later, and four years later almost to the day, the project was completed.
It was a monumental task to create this facility. At peak, 3,000 employees were involved in construction efforts.
- Earth fill: 2,668,500 cubic yards
- Riprap: 125,000 cubic yards
- Concrete: 506,390 cubic yards
- Foundation grouting cement: 508,276 bags
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt dedicated Chickamauga Dam on September 2, 1940. An estimated 80,000 people came out to hear the president's speech.
In his speech that day, he said, "This Chickamauga Dam…built by the Tennessee Valley Authority for the people of the United States, is helping to give to all of us human control of the watershed of the Tennessee River in order that it may serve in full the purposes of men.
The dam stands at 129 feet high and stretches 5,800 feet across the Tennessee River. Chickamauga Reservoir has 784 miles of shoreline and about 36 thousand acres of water surface. The 60-by-360-foot lock at Chickamauga lifts and lowers river craft about 50 feet between Nickajack and Chickamauga Reservoirs.
Chickamauga Dam is a hydroelectric facility for the TVA. It has four generating units with a net dependable capacity of 119 megawatts.