Santee Cooper Project - Research Paper

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Santee Cooper Project By Karen Breanna Jones Growing up in Santee, I heard many stories about the lake. Why it was made and how it was made. The hardships the workers had in building it. What was left behind when the lake was flooded. The Santee Cooper Project is a part of my family’s legacy also. My Great Grandfather helped build Lake Marion. South Carolinians wanted to use the rivers for transporting goods between the Midlands and the Low Country. This initially started Santee Cooper. A private company with Governor William Moultrie as president and General Francis Marion as a director was charted by the state in 1786 to help with this task. From 1793 to 1800, Laborers worked hard clearing the way with only axes and shovels connecting Charleston and the Santee River. The twenty-two mile long canal was used as a route for cotton barges for fifty years until there was a working railway between Charleston and Columbia. A route by water remained a fascination. T.C. Williams revived the dream in the next century. In 1926, the Federal Power Commission gave the owner of the Columbia railway and Navigation Co. a license for navigation locks and a hydroelectric project. The Santee Cooper Project was intended to create navigation between Columbia and Charleston, but it turned out to be much more. Ninety-three percent of rural South Carolina did not have electricity. In 1934, the S.C. Public Service Authority was brought to operate the Santee Cooper Hydroelectric and Navigation Project by state legislation to improve “health welfare and material prosperity.” In 1935, rural South Carolina was promised a federal loan, but court fights made it difficult and delayed the work of it until 1939. South Carolina was in the Great Depression before the 1929 stock market crashed. Between cotton prices dropping, depleted soil, and the boll weevil

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