Last week we were on the Tenn-TomBigBee Waterway traveling from Pickwick Lake south to the Gulf. This Waterway was created as an alternative to the Mississippi River for the transportation of cargo. I was reading about the history of its creation and discovered there was quite a bit of controversy over its construction. The local Politicians included funding in many different bills to get the dollars for the build. Articles referred to the project as “Pork Barrel politics at its finest”. The debate continues today if the maintenance of the waterway is worth keeping 600,000+ semi trucks off the roads. We observed the Towboats and barges moving wood pulp, coal, sand, gravel, petroleum products, and scrap metal as they passed by.
Federal funding, your tax dollars, keep the Tenn-Tom open for business. Recreational boaters enjoy the benefits for free. We do not pay any fees to pass through the locks or maintain passable water depths. Boaters do boost the local economies at marinas, restaurants, attractions and fueling stops but the influx of dollars is very small. So if you read this and pay your taxes, I want to personally thank you for making our trip possible.
Start of the Tenn-TomBigBee waterway. Locals call it the big cut.
The Jamie Whitten Lock and Dam is the northernmost lock and dam on the Tenn-Tom, and was completed at a cost of US$75 million. The lock is the fourth-highest single lift lock in the United States, and raises and lowers barges 84 feet .
Wood Pulp facility