American Rivers

book cover of 'The Source' by author Martin Doyle
Courtesy Martin Doyle

The history of rivers in America is a story of control, or at least an attempt at control. Early on, waterways determined where and how European settlers would live. Later, in the industrial age, humans would begin to exert their control over the rivers. Through massive projects like the Tennessee Valley Authority, Americans turned long rivers into a series of reservoirs and water into money-making energy. But in the process, they also drastically changed the ecosystems around the rivers.

Dave DeWitt

The dank, dark tunnel deep inside the Cowans Ford Dam—about 100 feet or so below the water line of Lake Norman north of Charlotte—is where I learn a little-known fact.

All dams leak.

Jeff Lineberger, Duke Energy’s director of Hydro Strategy and Licensing, and Mike Williams, the Cowans Ford facility director, smile and patiently explain to a novice the small waterfalls cascading down a staircase and into a trough alongside the tunnel.