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TN’S Roaring River Dam to Be Removed

leah kirk

CROSSVILLE, Tn-- An aging dam on the Roaring River will be removed soon in a multi-organizational effort. The exact date will depend on river conditions and visitors should expect limited access in this area.

This will be the largest Tennessee dam ever removed for river and stream restoration purposes. The dam is roughly 220 feet across and 15 feet tall. It is located in Jackson County about five miles before the beginning of the lake formed by the Cordell Hull Dam. The Roaring River is designated as a state scenic river and is a destination for paddlers, anglers, and swimmers.

The Roaring River Dam, built in 1976 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, is targeted for removal because the structure at its base is eroding in what is known as a “head cut,” creating a risk that this dam might fail. Rather than repair the dam, it was determined that it would be better to remove the dam, which was originally built at TWRA’s request to keep reservoir species from migrating upstream into areas inhabited by stream fish. Fish surveys have shown that the barrier was not effective, and it is no longer needed. 

“We know of more than 2,000 of these dams in Tennessee’s rivers and streams,” said Rob Bullard, Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers Program Director with The Nature Conservancy. “Many have outlived their intended purpose and fallen into disrepair. There is a growing recognition that removing these old dams results in safer rivers for recreation and healthier habitat for wildlife,”