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Posted 01/20/2023 in Informational

Learn About the Tims Ford Dam

Learn About the Tims Ford Dam

Tims Ford Dam

The Tims Ford Dam is a hydroelectric dam located on the Elk River in southern Tennessee, USA. The dam is named after Tims Ford Lake, which it creates, and is operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). The name, "Tims Ford" came from the ford (a ford is a shallow area to cross a river) across the Elk River that the gentleman "Abner Tims" built at the place where the current dam is built.  

The dam was constructed between 1966-1970 and is an important source of electricity for the region, as well as a popular spot for recreational activities such as fishing, boating, and camping.  There are multiple things to do on Tims Ford Lake and around the area.  

The below photos shows an early 1970's view of the Tims Ford Lake not long after the Tims Ford Dam was built.  Note that the trees are still very immature and the Bear Trace Tims Ford golf course is not built yet.

Tims Ford Dam early 1970's photoTims Ford Dam early 1970's photo

The History of the Tims Ford Dam

The history of the Tims Ford Dam dates back to the early 20th century, when the TVA was established by the U.S. government to address issues of flooding, erosion, and power generation in the Tennessee River Valley. The TVA began planning for the construction of the Tims Ford Dam in the 1950s, with the goal of creating a hydroelectric power source and a recreational lake in the area.

The map below is from the 1960s showing he current path of the Elk River, and the planned Tims Ford Lake

Early Tims Ford Lake Map Outline with Current Elk River Flow (c1960s)

Construction of the Tims Ford Lake Dam

Construction of the Tims Ford Lake Dam began in 1966 and was completed in 1970. During that time, trees and buildings were cleared that would be part of the future Tims Ford Lake.  The dam is an earth-fill dam, which means that it is constructed using a combination of earth, rock, and concrete. The dam is 175 feet tall and stretches for 1,580 feet across the Elk River.  

 The deepest part of the lake is in front of the Dam at 150 feet.

Early photo of the tims ford dam being builtLate 1960's photo of Tims Ford Dam being built

The Tims Ford Dam and Lake has a total storage capacity of 219,600 acre-feet or 71 billion gallons of water, which is used to generate electricity at the Tims Ford Power Plant. The power plant has a generating capacity of 40 megawatts and is capable of producing enough electricity to power around 70,000 homes. 

The small town of Awalt, was displaced from the building of the lake -- and the remnants of the city are currently underwater close to the Holiday Landing marina.  The below photos if of A.B. Rhoton's Grocery Store in Awalt.

See our article about the town of Awalt.

Recreation on Tims Ford Lake

In addition to providing electricity, the Tims Ford Dam and Tims Ford Lake Lake
also offer a variety of recreational opportunities for visitors. The lake is a popular spot for fishing, boating, and swimming, and there are several marinas and boat launches located around the lake. You can get a Tims Ford boat rental for the lake to enjoy it for the day.  The Tims Ford State Park, which is located on the shores of the lake, offers camping, hiking, and picnicking opportunities.

One of the most interesting aspects of the Tims Ford Dam is its impact on the local ecosystem. The creation of the lake has greatly improved the habitat for a variety of fish species, including bass, catfish, and crappie, which are popular among anglers. The lake is also home to a wide variety of waterfowl, such as herons, ducks, and geese, making it a popular spot for birdwatching.

The Tims Ford Dam is also important for its impact on the local economy. The dam and lake have helped to boost tourism in the area, with visitors coming from all over the state to enjoy the recreational opportunities offered by the lake. In addition, the power generated by the dam helps to support local industry and businesses.

There's an interesting Youtube video showing multiple historical photos of the dam being built and the area. Here's the video below also:

The Tims Ford Dam is an important and valuable part of southern Tennessee's infrastructure, providing clean and renewable energy, recreational opportunities, and environmental benefits. The project's history, construction, and the way it continues to impact the area make it an interesting subject to learn more about.

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