The Upper French Broad Defense Association, A Moment When American Democarcy Worked

UNCA Author/Contributor (non-UNCA co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Benjamin Schoenberg (Creator)
University of North Carolina Asheville (UNCA )
Web Site:
Alvis Dunn

Abstract: The Upper French Broad River Valley in western North Carolina has been prone to flooding for thousands of years. However, only since the Tennessee Valley Authority’s establishment in 1933 has there been an incorporation willing to take on the challenge of wide scale flood control and resource management in the Tennessee Valley. Since the Authority’s inception, flood control, energy production through the development of hydroelectric dams and natural resource management projects were proposed for rivers throughout the Tennessee Valley, specifically along the Upper French Broad. Nevertheless, the people in western North Carolina, established and reinforced through time by their interpretation of history and cultural value systems, have been skeptical of large scale government run programs where local access and control over natural and human resources would have to be necessarily relinquished to non-local entities. The TVA’s principal concern for the most recent proposal to dam and channel the French Broad River in 1966, was not the specific resource management needs defined by the citizens of the Upper French Broad Valley, but to bring the region out of what the Authority defined as economic depression with the application of technocratic expertise. Using primary sources from the Upper French Broad Defense Association Collection at the University of North Carolina at Asheville Special Collections, and relevant secondary sources, this essay will investigate the group known as the Upper French Broad Defense Association which was made up of citizens from Buncombe, Henderson, Transylvania, and Haywood counties that coalesced to fight the TVA over maintaining local access and control over their regional river system from 1966 to 1973.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2017
French Broad River ; Tennessee Valley Authority ; hydroelectric dam ; flood control ; environmentalism

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