FEBRUARY 24, 1955
NEW YORK—I was most interested to visit a demonstration farm in the TVA area during my recent trip in the Middle West. At these farms meetings are held for the farmers from the neighborhood right in the pasture. The particular farm which we visited was in Kingston, Tenn., a plot that had been allowed to "rest," which meant that it came up in weeds.
The land was bought by an intelligent and enterprising man who kept books and was willing to follow the advice of scientific farmers. He put in money to fertilize the soil. He changed to pasture land and his soil was soon able to support a good herd of cattle.
In the first year he repaid his investment and made a good living in the five years that followed. The dry cycle, which has hit the whole South, affected him somewhat but not as badly, I gathered, as some others. He had lived 27 years in Michigan but is glad to be back in his native state.
This farmer and his family live in a modernized home which makes full use of the power available in the area. The kitchen has a refrigerator, ironer and electric stove. The house is heated with an oil furnace, which is supplemented with electric heating. In the basement there is a food-freezing unit and a washing machine.
Electricity now goes to 95 percent of the farms in the Tennessee River Valley and this means not only lighter work but an enormous improvement in both farmwork and housework. Women need not carry heavy pails of water half a mile up a hill as they used to do. A pump now does the necessary work. Dairy farmers can now milk their cows and care for their milk with the help of electric power.
In the TVA area, too, there is the problem not only of the full time farmer on land that needs careful treatment and enriching, but there are many part-time farmers who work on regular jobs and whose farms are worked by their wives and children while they are away from home. Also, more and more children are going to high school and finishing their full courses. TVA has changed the lives of thousands of human beings in the area.
During my day in Kingston I also visited the new steam plant. This is strategically placed on the Clinch River, and there is ample coal in the vicinity and cooling water for condenser circulating purposes. I had never seen a plant of this kind before. It was put up, of course, to meet the extra demands for power in the Tennessee Valley created by national defense and a rapidly expanding industrial development.
Impressive as is the machinery to a layman like myself, it is the devotion of the whole group of engineers and their pride and enthusiasm in their accomplishment that really explains the extraordinary achievements. The loyalty to their work of the group at the top seems to be carried through the lower ranks, for I am told that labor relations are very good in these TVA plants. This is in sharp contrast to some of the difficulties that have been experienced by privately owned enterprises.
I enjoyed my day in Kingston more than I can say and only wish I had had much more time to see more of this development of the Tennessee Valley, of which every American citizen should be proud.