”New Deal” in Roane County

{Robert Bailey – Roane County Historian}

When the Great Depression came along in the 1930s, many people became unemployed. Part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal plan was to put these people back to work. There were three programs which affected Roane County: the Public Works Administration (PWA), the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). In 1935, 500 jobs were given to Roane County men and women who were formerly on the relief rolls.

One of the largest projects was a farm-to-market road program which was to improve the county’s 2,000 miles of rural highways. Work was done in all five civil districts and employed 260 men. Among other works were the grading of Nelson Street and other city streets in Rockwood, repairs on Race Street in Kingston and work on Roane Street in Oliver Springs. Jobs were provided for 117 men. In Harriman 61 men worked on the High School athletic field and repaired and painted the public library. Three sewing projects were given to 72 women. Projects that may still be seen include the Rockwood Post Office and the terracotta mural done by a New York artist, Christian Heinrich in 1939 located in the post office. Heinrich named his mural, “Wild Life.” Pictures of it may be seen at www.wpamurals.com.

Also, the eastern addition of the Historic Roane County Courthouse was built. Included in the construction were vaults which were intended to protect the county records. Historical records projects were also done in Roane County. Many early Roane County records were transcribed, typed and placed into volumes of books. Among other records projects involved the transcribing of family Bibles and recording tombstones in various cemeteries. So, the impact of these programs may still be seen today almost 80 years after they were done.



















Originally written for the Roane County Newsletter to the Community, January 2014.