Guide to the Hales Bar Dam Collection
NMAH.AC.1051

Summary Information

Repository
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Creator
Chattanooga and Tennessee River Power Company
Title
Hales Bar Dam Collection
ID
NMAH.AC.1051
Date
1905-1968
Extent
1.0 Cubic feet (2 boxes)
Language
English
Abstract
The Hales Bar Dam was built on the Tennessee River to improve river navigation and produce hydroelectric power. Construction work on the dam, which took place from 1905 to 1913, faced engineering challenges and leaks due to the broken and creviced limestone beneath the dam. The collection spans 1905-1968 and includes papers, reports, drawings and photographs related to the construction of the dam, as well as documents related to its maintenance in the decades following its completion.

Preferred Citation note

Title and date of item, Hales Bar Dam Collection, 1905-1968, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, box number X, folder number XX, digital file number XXXXXXX.

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Biographical/Historical note

The Hales Bar Dam was proposed as a permanent solution to improve navigation of the mountainous section of the Tennessee River. Hydroelectric power was an additional benefit of the dam's construction. Congress approved the project in 1904, and the Chattanooga and Tennessee River Power Company began construction in 1905 and finished in 1913. Building plans included a cyclopean concrete masonry dam, lock, spillway, power house, and transformer house.

The dam was built on broken and creviced limestone that made its construction challenging. Engineers used caissons to aid construction. After completion, leakage became a problem and in the 1920s, efforts were made to pump asphalt into the crevices to seal the leaks. This method was mostly successful, but the dam continued to have maintenance problems. The Tennessee Valley Authority acquired the dam in 1939 and ultimately decided to replace the dam rather than continue repairs. The Nickajack Dam was completed a few miles downstream in 1967, using two generators and parts of the switchyard from the Hales Bar Dam. By 1968, the Hales Bar Dam had been dismantled. The Hales Bar Dam powerhouse is one of the few surviving structures of the project. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2008 and is used by the Hales Bar Marina as a boathouse.

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Scope and Contents note

The collection includes papers, reports, drawings and photographs related to the construction of the Hales Bar Dam, as well as documents related to maintenance on the dam in the decades following its completion.

Series 1, Historical Background, 1905-1968, includes papers, reports and publications related to the construction of the dam and its maintenance. Construction engineers Jacobs and Davies Inc. produced an undated report  Description of Hales Bar Dam, that discusses the history of the project, its design, construction methods, a contractor's account of work, materials used, transportation, organization, camp, liability insurance, and closure of the dam; copies of the 1905 grant and contract with the Chattanooga and Tennessee River Power Company for construction; reports on leakage problems after construction completed,  Report on the Present Status of the Work of Sealing the Crevices and Stopping the Flow of the Water Under the Hales Bar Dam (George W. Christians, 1919),  Leakage Under Hales Bar Dam (Consulting engineer John R. Freeman, 1921); a Tennessee Valley Authority report  Geology of Hales Bar Dam (Assistant Geologist John W. Frink, 1944) including the geology of the river, choice of the dam site, geology of the site, construction and treatment of leaks; published articles from  The Engineering Record, Engineering News, Civil Engineering, and TVA publications discussing construction, hydroelectric power, leakage problems and maintenance work.

Series 2, Drawings, 1912-1966, contains ten blueprint drawings by Jacobs and Davies Inc. detailing cross-sections of the dam, its foundation, caisson, and other proposed construction methods, 1912-1913; microfilm of original construction drawings on twenty-two engineering drawing aperture cards depicting powerhouse details and foundation conditions. Some of the drawings were done by E. W. Clark and Company Management Corporation and were photographed for microfilm purposes from 1962 to 1966.

Series 3, Photographs, 1910-1940, consists of two scrapbooks of exterior and interior views of the dam during and after construction, as well as the lock, the power station, the dam during a flood, geology, caissons, and workers.

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Arrangement note

The collection is organized into three series.

Series 1, Historical background, 1905-1968

Series 2, Drawings, 1912-1966

Series 3, Photographs, 1910-1940

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Archives Center, National Museum of American History 2011

Smithsonian Institution
P.O. Box 37012
Suite 1100, MRC 601
Washington, D.C., 20013-7012
Phone: 202-633-3270
Email: archivescenter@si.edu

Conditions Governing Access note

The collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use note

Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Reproduction permission from Archives Center: fees for commercial use.

Custodial History note

Transferred to the Archives Center from the Division of Mechanical and Civil Engineering in 2007.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

This collection was donated by the Tennessee Valley Authority in 1969.

Processing Information note

Processed by Cara Whiting (intern), April, 2011; supervised by Alison Oswald, archivist.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Tennessee Valley Authority

Genre(s)

  • Articles
  • Blueprints
  • Contracts
  • Photograph albums
  • Photographs--20th century
  • Reports
  • Specifications

Subject(s)

  • Caissons
  • Dams
  • Power stations
  • Rivers

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Collection Inventory

Series 1, Historical background, 1905-1968 

Description of Hales Bar Dam, by Jacobs and Davies, Incorporated, undated 


  Box Folder
Mixed materials   1 1

Copies of grant, contract and act of Congress, 1905-1944 


  Box Folder
Mixed materials   1 2

Report titled the Present Status of the Work of Sealing the Crevices and Stopping the Flow of the Water Under the Hales Bar Dam, 1919 October 30 


  Box Folder
Mixed materials   1 3

Report titled Leakage Under Hales Bar Dam by John R. Freeman, 1921 December 31 


  Box Folder
Mixed materials   1 4

Report titled Geology of Hales Bar Dam by John W. Frink, 1944 July 


  Box Folder
Mixed materials   1 5

Publications about Hales Bar Dam, 1905 November 4 - 1968 April 


  Box Folder
Mixed materials   1 6

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Series 2, Drawings, 1912-1966 

Blueprints, 1912 February 29 - 1913 July 7 


  Box Folder
Mixed materials   1 7

Microfilm of drawings, 1962-1966 


  Box Folder
Mixed materials   1 8

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Series 3, Photographs, 1910-1940 

Loose photographs mounted on linen, 1910-1912 


  Box Folder
Mixed materials   1 9

Loose photographs, 1911-1928 


  Box Folder
Mixed materials   1 10

Scrapbook of Hales Bar Dam, 1911-1940 


  Box Folder
Mixed materials   1 11

Loose panoramic photographs, 1912-1913 


  Box Folder
Mixed materials   2 1

Scrapbook (part 1), 1911-1912 


  Box Folder
Mixed materials   2 2

Scrapbook (part 2), 1911-1912 


  Box Folder
Mixed materials   2 3

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