US Army Corps of Engineers
Nashville District

Dates in History

January

January 1, 1863 - First Michigan Engineers, U.S. Army of the Cumberland, hold off several attacks by confederate cavalry along Nashville Pike during the Battle of Stone's River.

January 1, 1927 - Cumberland River reaches 56.2 feet at the Nashville gauge; highest recorded flood waters in the city.

January 1, 1946 - Catastrophic flooding at Pineville, Ky, leads to the construction of a system of levees and floodwalls.

January 10, 1991 - In Rhea County, Tenn., ravishing flood waters raced down normally quiet Piney Creek from Grandview Mountain's 20,000 acre watershed and into Spring City, located near Watts Bar Lake.  It was the worst flood in local history.  Some damage estimates in Spring City alone reached a million dollars.

January 13, 1874 - MAJ Walter McFarland, escapes fire at Chattanooga District Engineer Office; plans for Muscle Shoals Canal, seven months in preparation, go up in smoke.

 January 13, 1994 - A ruptured pipe was discovered at Dale Hollow Lake.  Nashville District crews labored eight days in sub-zero weather to prevent a $1/2 million loss to the sport industry in middle Tennessee.  A ruptured water supply pipe running beneath a parking plaza near the base of snow-encrusted Dale Hollow Dam threatened to cut off a vital water source for 90,000 pounds of trout at the Dale Hollow Fish Hatchery.  A fish Hatchery contractor repaired the rupture.  On Jan. 21, the final connection was made and fresh water flowed steadily at 9,000 gpm into the fish hatchery raceways.

January 1933 - The Nashville District begins construction of Wheeler Lock & Dam at Muscle Shoals, Ala., the last District construction project on the Tennessee River, until Kentucky Lock.

January 1937 - District Engineer Maj. Bernard Smith dispatches entire fleet down the Cumberland River for rescue and relief work in response to severe flooding; with bridges too low to pass, vessels steam across farmland and bridge approaches, dodging telephone and power lines.

January 1977 - District personnel proceed to northern Ohio to administer snow removal contracts for opening roads into small communities isolated by record snow falls and cold temperatures.

January 1981 - The emergency Management Branch was brought up to full staff for the first time.  Organization established in all Districts and Divisions of the Corps of Engineers to ensure the proper emphasis in all phases of emergency management, but especially to increase preparedness for mobilization during wartime activities.

January 1986 - Construction of the new Wallsend Bridge began as part of the Pineville Flood Control Project.  The bridge connected the communities of Wallsend and Pineville, Ky.  The two-lane bridge replaced a lower one-lane bridge.

February

Feb. 19, 1823 - Major Harold C. Fiske becomes Nashville District Commander.  During his tenure, he oversees the investigations leading to multi-purpose development of the Cumberland & Tennessee Rivers.

Feb. 23, 1988 - Corps Ranger Keith Crowe and Division of Forestry's Ted Melton discovered a giant Swamp Chestnut Oak growing on Old Hickory Lake property.  The giant oak measured 20 feet around and was more than 100 feet tall. 

 

Feb. 23, 1990 - A ceremony is held at District Headquarters on the seventh floor of the Federal Building in Nashville, Tenn., to add the names of Robert L. Thomas; Ronald G. Welbern; and Harold R. Stafford to the Distinguished Civilian Employee plaque.  The 79-year-old retiree Ed "Digger" Drake entertained the crowd with stories from his 1935 to 1975 career, including tales about Soils Lab employee Louis Campbell, and a "wet-behind-the-ears" engineer names Euclid Moore, later Chief of Engineering Division. 

 

Feb. 24, 1862 - The city of Nashville surrenders to advancing Union Army following its victories over Confederate forces at Fort Henry (Tennessee River) and Fort Donelson (Cumberland River).

March

March 1881 - The Corps of Engineers was laboring to build a system of lateral canals to bypass the barrier of Muscle Shoals on the Tennessee River.

 

March 1942 - Workers began construction of the Berry Hill Air Crew Classification Center.  The District was also pressing construction of a large prisoner of war compound at Crossville, Tenn., that eventually held large numbers of German and Italian POW's.

 

March 1982 - Howard Boatman, father of Todd Boatman, was named Federal Employee of the Year.

 

March 11, 1819 - Long before there was a Nashville District, the steamboat General Jackson used a sudden rise in the Cumberland River to pass the treacherous sand bars of Harpeth Shoals, becoming the first commercial steamer to reach Nashville.

 

March 11, 1881 - Legendary outlaws, Frank and Jesse James relieved the District Paymaster of his $5,200 payroll for the canal workers.

 

March 11-14, 1975 - The resulting floods from ten inches of rain raised the level to 48 feet on the main stem of the Cumberland River.  Without District flood control reservoirs, a record flood would have resulted and with it an estimated $150 million dollars in damage.  Actual damage totaled 17.9 million.

 

March 15, 1938 - During an inspection visit, District Engineer Lt. Col. Charles E. Perry drowned at Wheeler Lock and Dam after a fall from the spillway wall.  He is the only DE to die while in command at Nashville.

 

March 15, 1991 - Old Hickory Resource Manager hosted 20 high school students from Japan.

 

March 18, 1991 - TWRA first signed an Memorandum of Understanding with the Corps to manage more than 100,000 acres of forest resources at Cordell Hull, Dale Hollow, and Center Hill Lakes.

 

March 23, 1992 - Giant drills broke through the last of four tunnels for a ceremonial completion of the first phase of the Harlan Project.

 

March 31, 1989 - District Engineer Lt. Col. William Allen retires, receives the Legion of Merit.

April

April 12, 1780 - Settlers ascending the Cumberland River arrive at the mouth of the Red River and found a settlement that becomes Clarksville, Tenn.

April 24, 1780 - John Donelson's party of settlers reached the future site of Nashville after an epic four-month voyage down the Tennessee River, up the Ohio and the Cumberland. 

April 1865 - Major Wilbur F. Foster, Confederate Engineers [later of the Foster Creighton Company a builder of several Corps projects] arranges the escape of the Confederate government from Richmond, Va.

April 1865 - General Godfrey Weitzel and Major William R. King [later in charge of improvements on the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers] lead the first Federal troops into Richmond, Va.

April 1, 1918 - Satellite district established at Florence, Ala., to manage the construction of Wilson Dam.

April 1936 - The Nashville District steam towboat Warioto,  transports the 317th Field Artillery and 310th Cavalry (U.S. Army Reserve units) to Lock A, Ashland City, Tenn., for tactical maneuvers and weapons testing.

April 1943 - Work on Center Hill Dam is stopped by World War II.  Work never resumed until after the war was over.

April 1974 - In the aftermath of 100+ tornadoes across the central U.S. (April 3rd) District survey teams prepare 575 damage reports covering 35 Tennessee counties.

April 1977 - Record flooding inundates Upper Cumberland region.  Levee at Pineville, Ky., is overtopped as is the construction cofferdam at Martins Fork.  Valiant flood fighting effort by National Guard, townspeople and Corps employees saves Barbourville, Ky., from flooding.

April 1981 - The Master Plan for recreational development in the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, Nashville District's most challenging recreational project, is approved.

April 1986 - Bandy Creek Recreation Area completed at Big South Fork.   

April 1994 - The Harlan tunnels were tested for the first time as heavy rains deluged the area. They easily passed the test as floodwaters only half filled the four 32-foot-tall tunnels. 

May

May 4, 1917 - a month after the nation enters World War I an amatuerish attempt is made to sabotage Lock & Dam 21 near Burnside, Ky. Armed guards patrol District projects until the end of the war.

May 18, 1933 - Tennessee Valley Authority created. Supervision of Tennessee River development passes from Nashville District to the new agency.

May 1, 1961 - Nashville's military construction mission is transferred to Mobile District.

May 1963 - President John F. Kennedy speaks at Vanderbilt Stadium and presses a golden key detonating a charge that breaks ground for the Cordell Hull project.

May 1979 - (this probably sounds too familiar) Eight barges break loose from the Towboat Robert D. Herbert and lodge against Cheatham Dam. One sinks. The barges are a threat to get underneath the dams' tainter gates, but are successfully removed.

May 1979 - Tenn-Tom Constructors, a joint venture between Morrisson-Knudsen, Brown & Root and Martin K. Eby proceed on largest civil works contract in Corps history to excavate 11.3 mile section of Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Divide Cut section (271 million dollars.)

May 1984 - Flooding produces record pool levels at Martins Fork, Wolf Creek, Center Hill, Old Hickory, J. Percy Priest and Barkley. An estimated $200 million in damages is averted.

June

June 1864 - Union engineers construct a 2,170- foot pontoon bridge across the James River in Virginia, the longest pontoon bridge constructed until World War II. Another James River pontoon bridge, laid down by Major William Rice King, District Engineer at Chattanooga during the 1876-1885 period, spans over 1,300 feet. Three years later the District Headquarters moved to Nashville.

 

June 1, 1927 - Wilson locks open for navigation.

June 3, 1993 - Peter W. Tunnicliffe, President of the Hazardous Waste Action Coalition (HWAC) and Lieutenant General Arthur E. Williams, Chief of Engineers, sign a Partnering Agreement aimed at guiding the cooperative efforts of the two organizations in the nation's environmental restoration program.

June 13, 1995 - Electrician Steve Tinker closed Chickamauga Lock to navigation at 4:48 p.m.  What Tinker spotted was the failure of the gudgeon pin's hinge assembly on the lower miter gate's land leaf.  The closure was of great interest to local media since the annual River Bend Festival was about to start.  Traditionally, the River Bend Festival is a time when many pleasure craft use the lock to travel to the Ross Landing Dock area in Chattanooga.  The lock was reopened to barge and pleasure craft on June 17 before the festivities began.

June 14, 1991 - The largest lift lock in the District undergoes dewatering, repair.  Wilson Lock was closed down for maintenance and a scheduled dewatering.  

June 16, 1775 - Congress authorizes the commissioning of Engineers in the new American army.

June 30, 1943 - Dale Hollow Dam completed for purpose of flood control.

June 30, 1979 - Martins Fork Dam is dedicated.

June 1977 - Initial public meetings completed on Upper Cumberland local flood control projects.

July

1916 (July) - Up to 15 inches of rain fell in the French Broad River basin near Ashville, NC., washing out numerous roads and bridges.  By year's end, Nashville District had repaired or rebuilt 90 miles of roadway and several bridges using hired labor.  Nearly $16,000.00 of the $30,000.00 allotted for the work was returned to the U.S. Treasury.

1942 (July 1) - Nashville District military construction projects a) Berry Hills Air Crew Classification Center and b) Stewart Air Force Base open for business.

1946 (July 24) - Rivers & Harbors Act of 1946 authorizes construction of Old Hickory, Carthage (Cordell Hull) and Celina Dams.  Celina was later de-authorized.

1954 (July 30) - 2,000 people watch in 100 degree heat as 10,000 pounds of explosives are used to demolish Lock A.  People in small boats gather 600 pounds of fish that float to the surface after the blast.  The lock was removed shortly before the dedication of the Cheatham project.

1958 (July 2)  -Congress changes the name of Stewart's Ferry Reservoir project to J. Percy Priest.

1964 (July 6)  - Nashville District Engineer Colonel James Newman and Congressman Joe Evins break ground for Cordell Hull Lock & Dam.

1972 (July 30)  - Laurel Dam Completed.

1988 (July 24) - Phase One, the $795,000 contract for an access road and boat launching area at Piney Grove was finished.

1994 (July 22) - Children learned about Old Hickory Project when WZTV, Channel 17, Fox Network,  broadcasted its quarterly program, Kids Stuff.  Jim Martens, field producer; Jimmy Daye, cameraman; Tim Hall, technical support; and Colin Begley, co-host of Kids Stuff, videotaped "standups" with Colin and footage of the power plant, lock and dam for the four to five minute segment of the program.

1996 (July 26) - For the first time in the history of the Corps of Engineers, Wilson Lock uses a Caisson type Barge as its Upper Gate to allow use of the lock during repairs.

August

1834 (August 8) - U.S. Civil Engineer Howard Stansbury begins the first survey of the Upper Cumberland River.

1888 (August 18) - Prompted by requests of the Cumberland River Commission, various legislators, and the engineering faculty at Vanderbilt University, U.S. Army Engineer District established in Nashville at 609 Broad Street.  Colonel John Barlow then moved into the District office as its first District Engineer on October 1. 

1933 (August 1) - Chattanooga District is abolished due to the establishment of the Tennessee Valley Authority.

1943 (August) - Ft. Loudoun Lock opens for the first time to navigation traffic.

1966 (August 20) - Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey dedicates the Barkley Lock and Dam project, which was completed for $20 million dollars less than the original estimate.  He symbolically mixed the waters from both river basins to commemorate the opening of the Barkley Canal.

1973 (August) - Congressman Joe L. Evins pulls a lever to power up the first generator at Cordell Hull Dam.

1984 (August) - Groundbreaking held for Barbourville, Kentucky, Section-202 flood control project.

September

1834 - Captain Henry Shreve and Richard Delafield examine Cumberland River from its mouth to Nashville and devise an improvement plan.

1918 (September 2) - Lock & Dam C on the Cumberland River goes into operation.

1924 (September 8) - Widows Bar Dam on the Tennessee River completed.

1941 & 1951 (September 1) - Wolf Creek Dam groundbreaking is followed exactly 
 ten years later by its dedication.

1954 (September 18) - Cheatham Lock & Dam dedicated.

1973 (September) - Cordell Hull Lake was first filled.

1974 (September) - Smithland Lock & Dam construction begins.

 

October

1768 - Lt. Thomas Hutchins, Engineer, British Army, supervises the construction of an armed galley which he uses the following year to reconnoiter & map the Tennessee & Cumberland Rivers.

1832 - Captains' Henry Shreve and Richard Delafield examine the Lower Cumberland River.  Channel and stream bank clearing begin the same month and continue for several years.

1863 (Oct. 26-27) - While under artillery fire the 1st Michigan Engineers lay a 900 foot pontoon bridge across the Tennessee River at Brown's Ferry, breaking the Confederate siege of Chattanooga.

1867 (Oct. 7) - Topographer Edward McDermott, U.S. Engineers, drowns below Chattanooga during a survey of the Tennessee River.

1888 (Oct. 1) - Colonel John Barlow opens Nashville District Office.

1925 (Oct. 1) - Widows Bar Lock opens on the Tennessee River (submerged by Guntersville Project in 1939.)

1973 (Oct. 17) - Cordell Hull project dedicated.

1983 - Beginning of Pineville, Ky., Section 202 flood protection project.

November

1862  -  At Nashville, the Union Army of the Cumberland forms and commences training of three Pioneer (engineer) battalions.  

1863 (Nov. 29) - At Knoxville, Union forces defending Ft. Sanders, an earthwork designed by army engineers, decisively repulse an attack by Confederate forces commanded by General James Longstreet. 

1864 (Nov. 13) -  Captain John Barlow, later the first Nashville District Engineer, arrives at the Tennessee capitol to direct the construction of a seven mile long defense line.  These fortifications halt General John B. Hood's advancing Confederate army. 

1888 (Nov, 8) -  General Order No. 93, establishes Division offices for the Army Corps of Engineers. 

1890 (Nov. 10) -  Muscle Shoals Canal opens to traffic. 

1913 (Nov. 1) -  First vessel locks through Hale's Bar project on the Tennessee River. 

1933 (Nov. 28) -  Nashville District transfers to the Ohio River Division. 

1948 (Nov. 27) -  Center Hill Dam construction completed; lake impoundment begins. 

1977 November  Emergency personnel open four temporary area offices in western North Carolina to facilitate the replacement of over 500 bridges washed away in massive flooding.

December

1779, Dec. 22 - Colonel John Donelson's flotilla begins a five-month journey down the Tennessee River and eventually up the Cumberland River to present day Nashville.

1830, Dec. 1 - Construction of first Muscle Shoals canal begins.

1864, Dec. 15-16 - The occupying Union army emerges from Corps of Engineer constructed fortifications and routs the Confederate Army of the Tennessee in the climactic Battle of Nashville.

1911, Dec. 4 - Colbert Shoals Canal opened on the Tennessee River.

1916, Dec. 21 - Lock D opens for navigation on the Cumberland River.

1926, December - Nashville's greatest flood begins.

1941, Dec. 1 - The Construction Division of the Army Quartermaster Corps is transferred to the Corps of Engineers, greatly increasing Nashville District's military construction mission.

1950, December – Wolf Creek Dam was completed for flood control operation and Lake Cumberland was filled. The project was authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1938 and the River and Harbor Act of 1946.  The Lake drains 5,789 square miles, has a shoreline of 1,255 miles, a pool length of 101 miles, and stores more water than any Corps project east of the Mississippi River.   

1952, December - Cheatham Lake filled and Lock opens to the public.  The Lock and Dam were authorized by Congress in 1946 as a navigation project to enhance the development of the Cumberland River.

1967, December – J. Percy Priest Lake filled upon completion of the Dam.  The project was authorized by Congress in 1946, initially under the title “Stewarts Ferry Reservoir”.  Public Law 85-496, approved July 2, 1958, changed the name to honor the late Congressman from Tennessee.

1985, December - The first complete transit of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway occurs.