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Group learns history of dam


John Blackwell, of Sheffield, shared the history of Wilson Dam with the Russellville Civitan Club Tuesday. | Nathan Strickland/FCT

Russellville Civitan member Cecil Langcuster ran across an article in June featuring a former student and thought it would be a great idea for him to come speak to the Russellville Civitan Club.

Langcuster met John P. Blackwell when he was a coach at Sheffield High School and believed his dealings with the Tennessee Valley Authority would make an interesting story for the meeting.

“When John first introduced himself to me, I told him a good friend of mine back home had the same name,” Langcuster said.

“The Russellville John Blackwell was one of my good friends and as the years went by both men with the same name actually served together in the military which I thought to be a real coincidence.”

Sheffield native John P. Blackwell spoke in front of Civitan members and discussed the history of the Wilson Dam along with it’s myths and legends.

Blackwell brought a slide show featuring the construction of Wilson Dam and gave out DVDs documenting its history.

Exposing myths while making sure the history of Wilson Dam and the Tennessee River is preserved for future generations has become a calling for Blackwell.

He served as a volunteer tour guide at Wilson Dam after his retirement from TVA in 1995 and has spent countless hours researching the histories of the dam and the river.

Blackwell now resides in Colbert Heights and said he just enjoys speaking about the Wilson Dam and said the dam is very close to his heart.