Tellico Dam’s Trail of Tears
Tellico may have created jobs but it was one of the greatest social injustices in East Tennessee since the Trail of Tears.
Tellico was about farm families of the Little Tennessee River Valley whose farms and lives were smashed when their land was seized by TVA. Tellico was about a giant bureaucracy practicing socialism in a democratic society by taking land from one class of people and selling it to the rich and powerful.
Tellico was about abuse of eminent domain, a law that enables government to take private land for “public good” for roads, schools, parks, etc. Tellico was not like land taken for the Manhattan Project at Oak Ridge that helped end WWII, or land taken for Smoky Mountains National Park. Tellico was simply a land-grab of 43,000 acres for economic development. In 2006, TVA ceased selling public lakeshore property (taken by eminent domain) for residential development because 90 percent of the public opposed it, a decision too late for Tellico farmers.
The worst of Tellico was arrogant abuse of power by Congressman John Duncan senior and Senator Howard Baker who circumvented the Supreme Court that had ruled Tellico Dam could not be built and who ignored the U.S. Government Accounting Office report that Tellico was economically infeasible. Duncan and Baker, without legislative discussion, clandestinely amended a public works bill that exempted Tellico from all law allowing completion of the dam.
The Tellico Reservoir Development Agency, (TRDA), was formed to market the remaining 11,000 acres of public Tellico lakeshore property. About 4,000 acres are still for sale by TRDA. That land should remain in public trust. The sacrifice of those who gave up land and homes for “public good” should not be in vain. TRDA should be sunset and remaining land returned to the public who paid for it.
4702 Gribble Road
Maryville, TN 37803