By NEMS Daily Journal
Significant anniversaries on Saturday of two federal agencies – 80 years for TVA and 75 years for the Natchez Trace Parkway – affirm the importance in Northeast Mississippi of investment in projects well conceived, carried to completion and moved forward.
The Tennessee Valley Authority first delivered power in Tupelo in 1934, a year after it passed Congress in 1933; the Natchez Trace Parkway, authorized in 1938, is headquartered in Tupelo, where Saturday’s celebration of its anniversary will be held.
The TVA Act was signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on May 18, 1933; the Natchez Trace was authorized on May 18, 1938.
TVA’s main event today will be in Knoxville, its corporate headquarters. TVA is the largest public utility nationwide; it service area includes about one-third of Mississippi and all or parts of Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina and Virginia, covering 80,000 square miles and providing electricity for more than 9 million people.
TVA’s inexpensive electricity and mission policy literally brought power for the first time to large tracts of rural Northeast Mississippi during the 1930s.
TVA’s power revenues in Mississippi totaled more than $1 billion in fiscal year 2012, about 9 percent of all TVA operating revenues. TVA had 332,000 households in 36 Mississippi counties in 2012.
The Natchez Trace Parkway, as predicted when first proposed, has become a nationally known scenic highway, part of the National Park Service system. Its course through Mississippi from Natchez to the border with Alabama in Tishomingo County, attracts millions of visits per year, including heavy use by local commuter traffic. The flow of tourists, outdoor enthusiasts and history seekers along its 444 miles is steady and economically significant.
TVA and the Trace intersect in the counties served by TVA and particularly those through which the Trace passes. A dramatically designed bridge at Colbert’s Ferry in northwestern Alabama, near Florence, carries the parkway across the Tennessee River and north into the outskirts of Nashville. The Trace also crosses the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway near Bay Springs Lake Lock and Dam. The waterway is fed from the Tennessee River where the waterway begins on Pickwick Reservoir.
Systems like the Natchez Trace and TVA are often described as and in fact are national assets. Their primary impact is more regional, but the nation would not be as rich and strong without them.