SEPTEMBER 4, 1940
CHARLESTON, W.Va.. On the train, Tuesday—Yesterday was a most beautiful day. The air was cool, the sun was warm. We first left the train at Chattanooga, Tenn., and drove to Chickamauga Dam. I had been there when the President laid the cornerstone, but yesterday it looked like a beautiful lake dotted with white sails. There was a large yacht tied to the dock and several barges in the offing filled with people. Every inch of space on the dam itself was covered with human beings.
The President spoke from his car over the radio, and I think very few of the people who waited below could see him. When we drove up, the roads were lined with people. At every little village or crossroads some sightseers were gathered bearing the sign: "Welcome Mr. President."
Eventually, these great dams mean safety for thousands of homes, which before were under frequent threat of flood. They also mean navigation with cheaper transportation for goods, and cheaper electricity for thousands of homes. This yardstick has brought the cost of electricity, furnished by private companies, down to a far more reasonable level.
Back on the train after the ceremonies at the dam, we had lunch and were ready to leave the train again at 2:00 o'clock to drive from Knoxville to Newfound Gap, where the dedication of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park took place. The drive goes through the most beautiful scenery. Once in the park, I think you are impressed by the wonderful care which is being given the area.
I saw no signs of forest fires, or of blights which have killed so many of our trees in other parts of the country. There is much virgin timber in these woods, but you have to go a little off the main road to see it. A policy of careful wildlife conservation will probably bring back much of the game which has disappeared.
I looked with special interest at the people along the route. In the autumn of 1932, I was with my husband on a trip through Kentucky and a part of Tennessee. It was not a pleasant trip. Too many people looked starved. Too many houses looked unkempt. Too much land was washing into the creeks and rivers.
Strange to say, conservation of land and conservation of people frequently go hand in hand. There is much conservation of both which still needs to be done where we drove yesterday. There are hillsides of corn which should never have become fields and cannot produce sufficiently good crops to pay for the labor which goes into the planting and cultivating.
But over and over again you still see gulleys where green shrubs and trees are planted, which means that erosion there will stop. I saw few children yesterday who looked hungry or ill clad, as they did eight years ago. Many women still look sixty when they are thirty. Life is not easy but I felt progress is being made.