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Southern Water, Southern PowerHow the Politics of Cheap Energy and Water Scarcity Shaped a Region$
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Christopher J. Manganiello

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781469620053

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469620053.001.0001

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Dam Crazy for White Coal in the New South

Dam Crazy for White Coal in the New South

(p.45) Chapter 2 Dam Crazy for White Coal in the New South
Southern Water, Southern Power

Christopher J. Manganiello

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter analyzes the people who harnessed the New South to white coal in the Savannah and other river basins during a critical period in the region's history, between 1890 and 1933. It seeks to unravel the origins of sociologist Rupert Vance's hydroelectric “complex” and “the Piedmont crescent of industry,” since waterway manipulation and energy generation are vital components of southern modernization. William Church Whitner, industrialist James B. Duke, and Preston Arkwright understood that water-generated electricity in the Southeast was an “Agent of Power”; the Super Power Grid established in the Southeast made this clear. Dam-crazy private energy company executives and engineers believed they had tamed southeastern rivers while cultivating a modern urban-industrial landscape linked by Super Power transmission lines. Southern rivers, however, displayed a persistent capacity to function by their own rules—in the form of dry riverbeds and raging floods.

Keywords:   New South, white coal, Rupert Vance, hydroelectric complex, Piedmont crescent, water-generated electricity, Super Power Grid, southern rivers

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