Talk:Tennessee River

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Untitled[edit]

This article currently says the river flows from the Mississippi River to the mountains, which is obviously impossible. Can anyone come up with a better way to write this, while still keeping all of the info? Perhaps we could also add some of its major tributaries, like the French Broad River. –radiojon 05:44, 2003 Sep 28 (UTC)

Discharge[edit]

Someone with the ip startin 72.75.... keeping changing the discharge and removing the cubic meter per sec. I have cited my source. I have also find a USGS with a very similar number of 65,600 cfs http://tn.water.usgs.gov/lten/basin_description.html If you have another source please post it! --ChristopherM 03:12, 27 November 2006 (UTC)

Confluence source trivia section[edit]

The section on how the source of the river was moved from the Holston & Little Tennessee confluence to the Holston & French Broad is interesting. I've read somewhere that the Little Tennessee River was simply the Tennessee River for a long time, but I had not heard the story of the source being moved due to the TVA headquarters location. Can we get a reference citation for this interesting story? Currently the text simply says "According to Tennessee Valley Authority historians...", which is a bit hard to reference. Thanks! Pfly 22:40, 10 December 2006 (UTC)


I received that information from retired TVA engineers who helped build Norris Dam.. I am a news reporter who used to cover the Tennessee Valley Authority for WATE-TV in Knoxville, Tennessee; TVA, the Clinch River Breeder Reactor, and the Great Smokey Mountains were my beat. The information on the origin of the Tennessee River was within a story on the 50th anniversity of the agency.

  The website below confirms what I was told.
  Go to the eighth line of the article after the "paper" notation.

http://www.tngenweb.org/tnland/frenchbd.htm


Thanks for the interest! Calvin Sneed WTVC-TV, NewsChannel 9 Chattanooga, Tennessee

Hey, thanks for the link and leads. I enjoy learning more about the upper Tennessee River and its tributaries and history. I'm not from the area but visited a couple years ago and, being geographically inclined, spent time figuring out just what tributary goes where. It is very complicated! And I found the names all different on older maps. I think I have a fairly decent grasp on the overall picture now, except minor points like "is there a South Toe River?" But the point that really intrigued me in your addition to this page (and the Holston River page) is that the change of the origin of the Tennessee River didn't occur until 1933 and was done so that the TVA offices in Knoxville could be on the Tennessee River rather than the Holston. That surprised me and I was inspired to try to learn more about it. I haven't quite worked out the story in full detail, but I've found a few references and leads that seem to givel a different picture.
The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture has an article on the river, online at http://tennesseeencyclopedia.net/imagegallery.php?EntryID=T055 -- the text includes this bit on the river's source: "The name of the Tennessee and the river's origins have changed several times ... By the late 1700s, the main river was known as the Tennessee, and it was considered to begin at the mouth of the Little Tennessee. Through much of the 1800s, the confluence of the Clinch with the river was considered the start of the Tennessee. In 1889 the Tennessee General Assembly declared the upper limit of the Tennessee to be at Kingsport, but in 1890 a federal statute recognized the junction of the French Broad and Holston Rivers as the start of the Tennessee, a designation that still stands."
The website http://www.fountaincitytnhistory.info/ResearchAids1.htm says much the same, citing their source as "The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture: Carroll Van West, Editor-in-Chief (1998)", probably related to the online encyclopedia.
In the book "High Dams and Slack Waters" by Wilmon Henry Droze, 1965, there is this passage: "Four miles above Knoxville the waters of ... the Holston and the French Broad wed to form the controversial Tennessee. Even the source of this mighty river was subject to controversy until a federal statute declared in 1890 that the juncture of the Holston and French Broad was the head of the stream." A footnote cites as reference "Statutes at Large, XXVI, 446."
Finally, in the book "The Tennessee. Volume 1: The Old River - Frontier to Secession" by Donald Davidson, 1946, the same story of an 1890 federal statute is told, with some additional detail: "In 1889 the legislature of Tennessee supported this view [of identifying the Holston with the Tennessee] to the extent of declaring Kingsport ... to be the upper limit of the Tennessee. But in 1890 a federal statute ... [made it the Holston and French Broad confluence]." The book does not provide references though.
Not being sure if the 1890 statute was truly the cause or if it was ignored until 1933, I have tried to find the actual text. But apparently the federal Statutes at Large after 1875 or so are not available online. Even so, it sounds like a fairly well referenced thing that the source of the river was set by the 1890 statute. You wrote that the TVA's Knoxville offices had to be on the Tennessee River by Congressional mandate. Is that true? I know the TVA was required to do all kinds of things, but was it actually required to have its headquarters on the Tennessee River and not the Holston, Clinch, etc? I haven't read the whole TVA Act and associated laws, so maybe it is in there, but I haven't found it yet. And in any case, in the feds had already defined the confluence at Holston & French Broad, there would be no need to change anything in 1933.
Sorry for writing so much on this. I'm a sucker for geography and history and especially placename history, so you've given me a fun little puzzle. I'm curious what you think of all this. Does the 1890 statute version rather than the 1933 TVA version of the changed river source sound plausible? I'll continue to look into it, this curious and hard-to-research bit of history. Thanks! Pfly 06:12, 17 December 2006 (UTC)


Yeah, when I was first told that in a TV interview (the Norris Dam engineer whose name I cannot recall, was about 85 years old at the time; I'm assuming he may have passed away by now), it raised an eyebrow with me, too, having lived in Tennessee most of my life. A couple of the other Norris and Fontana Dam engineers in my TVA history stories mentioned the same name-changing when I spoke with them. Meanwhile, I had gone down to the TVA Maps Section in the headquarters in downtown Knoxville because I was at the time (and still am) a gigantic map freak, and discovered SEVERAL different Tennessee River headwaters confluences over many years, and many arguments about them. I haven't looked at the TVA Act, but the Norris engineer made it sound like the Holston-French Broad-Little "T" confluence was a quick agreement between senators and house representatives at the time that wasn't necessarily written into the act itself, because there was some initial opposition to the creation of the TVA, both in Tennessee and in Congress. Since the river's beginnings had indeed changed several times in the early years, it made sense at the time. Since it's an interesting piece of trivia, especially since the ole timers seemed to remember it, I will also research the archives at the station in Knoxville where I worked, to see if they still have those old stories I did about TVA. Let me know if you find out anything, too! By the way, you'll enjoy a piece of trivia I wrote about House Mountain, northeast of Knoxville, and its role in changing the landscape of Knoxville television (key in "House Mountain"). In these days of fierce competition between TV stations, the archival info I got from my boss who was there back in the 1950's, sounds like a great movie!Csneed 14:22, 17 December 2006 (UTC)

Note on Trivia: I have personally seen an old map that show the course of the Tennessee River upstream from the Ohio following its current course, then the course of the current Little Tennessee. There was no "Little Tennessee River" on the map. The Holston flowed past Knoxvile to what is now the confluence with the Little Tennessee. If I find a source for the map, I will post back. I believe it was connected to SW Point Fort in Kingston. Afton --AW 17:49, 19 March 2007 (UTC)

  • Since the local Metro Pulse magazine just ran a piece--pointing out this very Wikipedia article--claiming that the TVA version is wrong and that the 1890 statute version is correct, I've added that as a second explanation (but I left the TVA's version intact). I'll contact the author and see if s/he can provide better sources. Aristophanes68 (talk) 01:07, 20 December 2010 (UTC)