Nickajack is the sixth step in the stairway of TVA reservoirs and locks that carry barges up and down the Tennessee River. Commodities passing through the Nickajack lock are grain, pulpwood, wood chips, soybean oil, salt, petroleum, steel products and coal.
Nickajack Dam in southeastern Tennessee was finished in 1967. It replaced the old Hales Bar Dam, built by private interests in 1913, which had leaks in its foundation.
Nickajack Reservoir extends 46 miles upstream from the dam to Chickamauga Dam. The reservoir offers wide expanses of water and the spectacular scenery of the Tennessee River Gorge, known as the Grand Canyon of Tennessee.
Boat-launching ramps and fishing berms are located on both sides of the river below the dam, and a concrete fishing pier with footbridges and a wheelchair ramp is available. TVA camping and picnicking facilities are also available.
Between late April and early October, nearby Nickajack Cave serves as habitat for roosting gray bats, an endangered species. At dusk, the sky is darkened as thousands of bats emerge from the mouth of the cave.
Nickajack: Facts + Figures
- Construction of Nickajack Dam began in 1964 and was completed in 1967.
- The dam is 81 feet high and stretches 3,767 feet across the Tennessee River.
- Nickajack Dam is a hydroelectric facility. It has four generating units with a net dependable capacity of 105 megawatts. Net dependable capacity is the amount of power a dam can produce on an average day, minus the electricity used by the dam itself.
- Nickajack has 179 miles of shoreline and 10,370 acres of water surface.
- At the construction of Nickajack Dam and its 600-foot lock, the foundation for an 800-foot lock was also built, to be completed at a later date when the need arises.
- The 110- by 600-foot lock now in operation can lift as many as nine of today’s large barges at a time.