Damming the Colorado: The Rise of the Lower Colorado River Authority, 1933-1939

Overview


Before there was a Lower Colorado River Authority, the Colorado River cut across Central Texas free and unfettered by artificial structures. But the river could be unpredictable and dangerous. In the early years of the twentieth century there were numerous attempts to harness and develop the river. Some Texans desperately wanted private enterprise to achieve that goal, but the job proved to be larger than the resources of the private sector. What emerged in the mid-1930s was a cooperative federal-state approach ...
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Overview


Before there was a Lower Colorado River Authority, the Colorado River cut across Central Texas free and unfettered by artificial structures. But the river could be unpredictable and dangerous. In the early years of the twentieth century there were numerous attempts to harness and develop the river. Some Texans desperately wanted private enterprise to achieve that goal, but the job proved to be larger than the resources of the private sector. What emerged in the mid-1930s was a cooperative federal-state approach that created controversy yet results.

John Adams details the dynamics in the struggle of private interests and public institutions to cooperate in the taming of the Colorado. The Great Depression further constricted private capital available for large-scale reclamation projects, but the New Deal entered into the effort. With seasoned Texas politicians in Washington, millions of dollars in federal funds were channeled into the Lower Colorado River Authority. The Lower Colorado River Authority resulted in a system of dams, reservoirs, and hydroelectric power stations.

Intensive research in primary documents, including four sets of presidential papers, and in state and national archives has enabled Adams to trace the development of the accord and relationships between private utility interests, conservationists, and politicians that finally dammed the Colorado and further cemented the precedent for federally funded water and reclamation projects in the West.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Known as ``Texas's little TVA,'' the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) of central Texas attempted to tame the oft-flooding Colorado River by building dams throughout the 1930s. The LCRA's efforts were shaped by Texas politics, rural and urban residents, and New Deal federal bureaucrats. As evidenced by his book's extensive bibliography, Adams has conducted in-depth research in order to detail the dams' construction. His writing is dry and unappealing, however, and he makes no attempt to generalize the experiences of the LCRA to other federal water projects. Recommended for area studies and special subject collections only.-- Gwen Gregory, U.S. Courts Lib., Phoenix
Booknews
Chronicles the array of conflicts and compromises that led to the formation of the Lower Colorado River Authority, "Texas' little TVA." Illustrations document the "before" shots of the river in flood and the construction of the massive dams along the river. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

Meet the Author


For ten years, JOHN A. ADAMS, JR., lived and worked in Laredo, where he served as executive director and CEO of the Laredo Development Foundation. He now resides in Florida. He earned a Ph.D. in history from Texas A&M University.
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations and Tables ix
Acknowledgments xi
Introduction xv
Chapter 1. Floods in Texas: Early Background 3
Chapter 2. The New Deal in Texas: The Long Arm of the Federal Government 24
Chapter 3. Construction and Conflict: Growing Pains of the Lower Colorado River Authority 43
Chapter 4. Marshall Ford Dam: The 1938 Flood 66
Chapter 5. Colorado Lights: Texas' Little TVA 93
Chapter 6. Conclusion 109
Notes 115
Bibliography 142
Index 156
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