Eminent Domain and Negative Impacts of Displacement

Although the TVA had been created to improve the conditions of the people of eastern Tennessee, the federal government did not offer much help in resettling the displaced people of the Norris Basin. Farm owners were given cash settlements for their condemned property and received help in finding new homes. Tenants, who had no land to sell, received no payments at all.[1]

The Basin had been home to many families for generations. Grandparents and great-grandparents were buried here. All of the valley's dead had to be exhumed and reburied in areas out of the reach of the waters created by the Norris Dam. For the close-knit families of the Norris Basin, this was an especially difficult part of the relocation process.

Some of the displaced families benefited from the coming of TVA. Most, for example, felt their new homes were nicer than their old ones. And about one in five had a family member who found work for TVA. But sixty percent of the dispossessed families moved to new homes within the five counties that made up the Norris Basin area—an area that suffered from the same problems of overcrowding and poor farming conditions that had troubled them in their old homes.[2]

[1] McDonald and Muldowny, p. 59.

[2] New Deal Network, “The Displaced People of Norris Basin.”