The TVA – 1938

In the summer of 1938, Marie attended the NEA convention in New York City and took a long road trip to return to her home, presumably in the South.
From LaFollette, Tennessee, Marie mailed a linen postcard to her friend, Priscilla Rothlisberg, in Merrill, Wisconsin.
Marie reported that she was still traveling homeward, “by way of Raleigh and the Smokies”.
LaFollette is in north central Tennessee, not far from the border of Kentucky.
Merrill is the county seat of Lincoln County in north central Wisconsin. It had a thriving logging industry in the early 20th century.
The postcard from Marie featured a hand-tinted photograph of the Norris Dam (and man-made lake), which was constructed as part of the Tennessee Valley Authority.
The TVA, initiated through the “New Deal” of President Roosevelt in 1933, was one of the most ambitious and most-successful public works projects in the Great Depression.
Like every other federal program designed to ameliorate desperate economic conditions, the TVA was attacked as federal overreach, a socialist plot, and a dangerous boondoggle to reward shiftless people of Appalachia.
(I have several issues of popular magazines from the ‘30’s that contain full-page advertisements fulminating about the nefarious plans of FDR.)
Instead, the project sparked enormous economic growth by protecting agriculture through flood control and irrigation and by bringing electricity to one of the regions in the US that could not be electrified through private companies (it was not cost-effective to build hydro-electric dams for a scattered, rural population.)
Flying into Nashville, you can observe the enormous effects of this project that increased population and wealth throughout the Tennessee River Basin.
One hopes that Marie reached her home safely, and that she found the NEA convention to be a success.
Note: A reader reports on information found through a genealogical website:
Priscilla was born in 1905 to George and his wife who were born in Switzerland.
George owned a department store in Merrill.
Priscilla never married; she was a school principal at Jefferson School in her home town until her retirement in 1965.
She died in 1981


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