The Dike that saved Dandridge is the unusual backdrop to this historic downtown district. In early 1940’s, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) constructed a dam on the French Broad River forming DouglasLake. Its purpose was top secret since it was to provide hydro-electric power for the atomic bomb, “The Manhattan Project” in Oak Ridge,TN. In addition it was to provide electricity to the rural communities of Jefferson County (prior to completion only 3 of every 100 homes had electricity.)
Committed Dandridge officials and citizens met with TVA representatives in September 1941 to discuss the feasibility of a constructed a dike. While creating Douglas Dam, TVA spent one million dollars building an earthen dike to save the Jefferson County Seat, “The Town of Dandridge”, from being completely flooded by the waters of the newly formed lake. A marker on the Jefferson County Courthouse steps indicates where the lake waters would be if it weren’t for the dike.
The Dike is located 15 miles upstream from the Douglas Dam. It is approximately 1,000 feet long and 50 feet high. A parking lot is located at the top of the dike for visitors and from it are great views of the town, Douglas Lake, and the mountains of East Tennessee. The dike offers year-round fun to all ages as the backdrop to such events as Music on the Town and the Scots-Irish Festival, held in September, winter snow-sledding and the lesser known summer cardboard sledding (bring your own box.) The dike can be found directly beside Hickman Tavern (now Dandridge Town Hall).