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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Post Card Tuesday: Hales Bar Dam and Bridge

This is a real photo postcard that has been dated 1936 at the bottom. The labels at the bottom read: Hales Bar Power Plant, Tennessee Valley, Dixie Highway - U.S. 41.

Lets start in the foreground, with the Dixie Highway Bridge. This bridge was in the news a couple of months ago as TDOT announced plans to repair the bridge over the Tennessee River, and it has been closed for a while. It runs parallel to Interstate 24, so these days not as many people need to use it. One other thing to note, with the creation of Nickajack Lake, which will be discussed on down a bit, the water level of the river is higher and at the time, they had to hydraulically lift the bridge 24 feet so there would still be room for boats to pass underneath. Here is a recent photo of the bridge under construction:

Marion Memorial Bridge

Now, on to what today remains of Hales Bar Dam.

Hales Bar Dam (remains)

Hales Bar Dam was a hydroelectric dam located on the Tennessee River in Marion County near Halestown (aka Guild). The Chattanooga and Tennessee River Power Company (TEPCO) began building the dam in 1905 and completed it in 1913, making this dam one of the first multipurpose dams and one of the first major dams to be built across a navigable channel in the U.S. In 1939, TVA assumed control of the dam after purchasing TEPCO's assets. TVA then spent two decades trying to fix a leakage problem that had plagued the dam since it's construction. After continued leakage, it was determined that expanding the dam's navigation lock would be too expensive. TVA decided to replace this dam by constructing Nickajack Dam 6 miles downstream in 1968. Today, what's left just looks like it protrudes out into the river while serving no purpose.

Hales Bar Dam (remains)

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