Jerry Summers: The Lost Community of Dallas

In a previous article, we discussed how the small rural communities of Waterloo and Riverton in Alabama were partially submerged under the waters of the Tennessee River when the Tennessee Valley Authority was established in 1933 with the aim of controlling and regulate the 586 miles of its rivers. and tributaries.

Although the name “Dallas” has not disappeared from the list of communities, it is not the original location of the island of Dallas which is now submerged under the Tennessee River in Hamilton County. .

As early as the 1700s, the property later known as Dallas Island was called “Oo-le-quah” and was established as a village by the Cherokee Indians. The Spanish occupiers led by explorer Hernando DeSoto named the land “Coste” and founded a village there in 1540.

After the creation of Rhea County north of Hamilton County, a southern part of Rhea was ceded to eventually become part of Hamilton after a temporary government location at Poe’s Tavern on the west bank of the river which is now the municipality de Soddy created in 1969. Marguerite.

When TVA began his groundbreaking project to tame the Raging River, archaeological studies were made on areas of Chickamauga Island near the proposed dam site as well as on Dallas Island.

The waters of the spillway were released on January 15, 1940, and after three months the rising levels covered the land known as the Island of Dallas. This is not the same island that is now part of Chester Frost Park. The current Dallas area was actually the heights that the lake did not cover. The original Dallas Island was an 84-acre long island at the mouth of Prairie Creek and Dallas Branch and was located just upstream from the original mouth of Wolftever Creek.

Before the area was submerged and lost for the designated purpose of alleviating flooding, the island of Dallas and the adjacent shore revealed evidence of earlier civilizations.

Three temple mounds that once stood on the island have been found along with pottery artifacts, tapestries, tools, and copper.

Before motorized land transport, the main method of travel was by river, and county leaders decided that the county seat should be at a landing stage.

On the heights opposite the island of Dallas, a permanent courthouse was established and the community was originally called “Hamilton County Courthouse”, but in 1833 it was renamed “Dallas”.

The name was chosen in honor of American statesman Alexander James Dallas, who served as Secretary of the Treasury, United States Supreme Court reporter, and cabinet member of President James Madison (1809-1817) .

Many communities and six US Coast Guardsmen were named Dallas and his son, George Mifflin Dallas, was vice president under President James K. Polk.

The gigantic city of Dallas, Texas is named after her, her father and her brother.

By 1833 Dallas was a thriving community with a population of 200 citizens, a lawyer, two doctors, four stores, two taverns, a blacksmith’s shop, and a hotel with a large ballroom.

According to an 1832 map of Tennessee, Dallas at that time was the only city in the state located along the Tennessee River and south of Rhea County.

According to historian Dr. James Livingood, “Dallas never prospered.”

The Athens Postal Route passed through Dallas and continued to Chattanooga on the Dallas route and a ferry ran from Dallas to Vannville on the east bank of the Tennessee River which was eventually changed to Harrison, who also faced to a slow death as the county seat.

Eventually, two railroads would bypass Dallas in favor of a route through Soddy Daisy, and in 1840 Dallas lost in a referendum that moved the county seat to Vannville.

The area remained primarily agricultural due to the rich, fertile farmland until TVA made its momentous decision to flood the Tennessee Valley and much of the Dallas trough would become the Dallas Bay of Chickamauga Lake.

Much like its southern neighbors in Waterloo and Riverton, Alabama, construction of the reservoir required the relocation of families, churches, cemeteries, a public school, and public roads.

However, while the growth of Alabama communities has remained fairly stagnant over the years since TVA submerged parts of their land under the waters of the Pickwick Landing Dam, real estate near the Underwater Property of “Dallas Island” has become an area of ​​booming population growth.

Soddy Daisy, Harrison, and other Cherokee homelands continue to grow and develop under the TVA Act of 1933 under Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the subsequent Democratic and Republican administrations.

As always, progress often brings conflicting results for different people and communities.

Also to be thanked is local historian Harmon Jolley for parts of his January 19, 2003 article on Chickamauga and the Dallas Islands that I have used in this publication.

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Jerry summers

(If you have additional information on any of Mr. Summers’ articles or have any suggestions or ideas on a future Chattanooga area historical piece, please contact Mr. Summers at [email protected])

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