Wilson Dam spans the Tennessee River between Lauderdale County and
Alabama. It impounds Wilson Lake and is the oldest of
Valley Authority (TVA) dams on the Tennessee River and one of 33 major
TVA dams that provide flood control, regulate a 650 mile navigational
channel, and provide over 100 billion kilowatt hours of electricity
for the 7-State Tennessee Valley region.
Construction on Wilson Dam began in 1918 by the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers and was completed in 1924. The Wilson Dam actually predates
the TVA, but would later
become the first hydroelectric
operations placed under the authority
of the TVA. The dam is 137 feet high and stretches 4,541 feet across the
Tennessee River. The cost to build the dam was almost $47 million.
The main lock at Wilson Dam is 110
feet high by 600 feet long. The maximum lift is 100 feet. It is the
highest single lift lock east of the Rocky Mountains. An auxiliary
lock has two 60 feet deep by 300 feet long chambers that operate in tandem. Over 3,700 vessels pass through Wilson
Dam's locks each year. The U.S. Corps of Engineers operate the navigation locks and
not the TVA.
The generating capacity of Wilson
Dam is 675 megawatts of electricity. The dam,
named for former President of the United States Woodrow Wilson, was declared
National Historic Landmark on November 13th, 1966.
The area around the dam features a
network of hiking and walking paths, including Old First Quarters
Small Wild Area, named after a complex that housed engineers during
Wilson’s construction. Small feeder creeks run through the natural
area, forming an ideal habitat for a variety of ferns, including the walking fern, a
rarity in Alabama.
Visitors enjoy camping, boating,
and fishing at Wilson Reservoir. The area is known as the Smallmouth
Capital of the World for the trophy smallmouth bass caught there.
I got a fantastic tour of the area. My brother lives only a few miles
from the dam, so I
got the local perspective!!!
Wilson Lock and Dam
Highway 133 North
Muscle Shoals, Alabama