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People Like Ourselves: Forecast for Survey Graphic

by Paul Kellogg

November 1935

The Energy We Can Harness

"Horse-power" is still a measure in a century when stables are shut and ranges plowed under. Oil wells and coal mines have taken their place and we have the revival of running waters as a prime source of power. Next to our soils themselves the hidden strength of the hills and of sunken geological strata is our chiefest heritage as a people.

On every hand, who is to control, distribute, use this energy, enters into economic and political controversy. Congress is beset with questions of securities, holding companies, public-private competition. The courts ponder how far the common sense of the founders in investing navigable streams with public interest shall be stretched in a day of great dams. Bituminous coal fields with their misery of chronic unemployment are the stage of a renewed attempt through the Guffey Act to reintroduce trade controls in handling a greatly wasted natural resource. Under REA the federal government enters upon a far-flung program of rural electrification through which the farm may share with the city the advantages of light, heat, refrigeration and power.

Such developments are shot through with a social significance we shall interpret in the year ahead, and in particular we shall continue Bench-Marks in the Tennessee Valley, a series of informal papers by the chairman of the TVA, telling intimately of problems and performance in the watershed which Daniel Boone explored, and which is today the seat of our largest scale experiment in combining engineering and education for the revival of a region.


Kay Davis, University of Virginia, © 2001-2003