The Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway was one of the most expensive and controversial public works ventures of the last twenty-five years. In this monumental history of the nation's largest navigation project, Jeffrey K Stine records the struggle between the interests determined to build the waterway and the forces pitted against its completion, a drama played out within congress and the federal courts, on the front pages of newspapers, and through the hilly countryside separating the Tennessee and the Tombigbee rivers. First authorised in the 1940's, the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway was championed by local boosters along its proposed route and by their supporters in Congress, despite its questionable economic benefits and its substantial environmental consequences. The Waterway, built between 1972 and 1985, was the most extensive domestic project ever undertaken by the Army Corps of Engineers, its 234 miles, five dams and ten locks entailing the movement of more earth than was required to dig the Panama Canal. Arrayed against the Waterway were scientists, politicians, and civic leaders disturbed by the social, environmental, and economic effects of this massive construction project.
The fight over the Tenn-Tom helped to set the terms of the environmental debate reflected today in American society: the tension between development and preservation, between special interests and the national interest, between the advances of technology and the retreat of the natural world. Based on extensive research, "Mixing the Waters" pulls together for the first time the complete story of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, a period of profound changes in American life, with increased scrutiny of governmental policies and actions, greater accountability of federal agencies and corporate offices, and a critical shift in public attitudes and values concerning quality of life issues. By exploring the intersection of U.S. politics, technological progress, and the environmental movement, Jeffrey K Stine has shown how this controversy over a public works project still influences the way America argues about its future.
Jeffrey K. Stine is Curator of Engineering at the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution. He received a PhD in the History of Technology and American History in 1984 from the University of California at Santa Barbara. He has been awarded several prizes for his scholarship, including the 1992 James Madison Prize from the Society for History in the Federal Government, and the 1993 G. Wesley Johnson Prize from the National Council on Public History.