Skip to Main Content

OH226 Sanders Watkins Oral History

Sanders Watkins Oral History

Collection Title: Jackson Purchase Oral History Project – Kentucky Dam Project

Series Number: OH226

Interviewee: Watkins, Sanders

Interviewer: Dorisanna Conner

Date interviewed: May 3, 1995

Processed by: Dieter C. Ullrich on November 25, 2013.

Date processed: November 25, 2013

Description: 1 sound disc (24 minutes)

Abstract: Sanders Watkins recalls his experiences as a laborer, carpenter and iron worker for the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) during the construction of the Kentucky Dam. He discussed the purchasing of property along the banks of the Tennessee River by the TVA and lack of assistance provided by the United States government to relocate the families. He describes the his experiences during Great Depression, the difficulties he had getting hired by the TVA, salary levels, former supervisors, seeing President Harry S. Truman, witnessing the first train to cross the dam, the Thanksgiving Day labor strike, segregation, race relations, accidental deaths and the effects of the dam on the region.

Biographical / Historical note: Sanders Watkins was born at Birmingham, Kentucky on September 7, 1916. He resided at Birmingham until he was required to relocate to Briansburg due to the rising waters caused by the Kentucky Dam in 1943. He attended Murray State Teachers College on a basketball scholarship but quit after several weeks. He began to work for the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) in 1939 as a laborer in the lumberyard. A year later, he was assigned a position as an ironworker's apprentice. He served three years as an apprentice before he was promoted to ironworker. In 1955, he was laid off by the TVA. The same year he was employed by the GAF Corporation from where he retired in 1981.

General information: No user access to original recordings. Use audio user copies, digital derivatives, transcripts, and/or tape indexes. This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code). Permission for reproduction must be requested from Murray State University.

Subject Headings / Descriptors:

Watkins, Sanders, 1916-

Kentucky Dam (Ky.)

Birmingham (Ky.)

Marshall County (Ky.)

Tennessee Valley Authority.

Dams – Kentucky.

Land Between the Lakes (Ky. And Tenn.) – History.