Pickwick Landing State Resort Park, located along Pickwick Lake (the dammed Tennessee River) in southern Hardin County, began as a demonstration park constructed and administered by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). Construction at Pickwick Dam, the third completed TVA dam, began in March 1935. Lake formation began in February 1938 and the dam’s generators produced their first power on June 29, 1938.
In the summer of 1935 the TVA, the National Park Service, and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) began work on the recreation demonstration area. CCC Company 3459, an African American company that named itself Company Paul Lawrence Dunbar in honor of the black poet, built park structures over a period of years. Although blacks built the park, it was a segregated whites-only facility.
From 1935 to 1938 the Dunbar company built trails, cabins, walls, restrooms, and picnic shelters. One extant stone and timber shelter expresses well the rough-hewn appearance of Government Rustic style. From this vantage point are three different views of Pickwick Lake. Nearby the CCC-constructed restroom is the large Pickwick White Sulphur cemetery, a poignant reminder of the vibrant rural community that had lived here before the construction of the TVA complex. Hundreds of white and black farm families and tenants were relocated for the dam, reservoir, and park.
At one time, the former demonstration park was operated as a private resort, but then the facilities were acquired by the State of Tennessee to establish the modern Pickwick Landing State Resort Park. The park presently features a modern inn and restaurant, ten cabins, a forty-eight-site campground, a marina, an eighteen-hole golf course, three public swimming beaches, and various picnic and recreational sites. The Bruton Branch Primitive Area, located across the lake from the main park, has 347 acres and offers a boat launch, primitive campsites, a swimming beach, and a modern bathhouse.
Carroll Van West, The New Deal Landscape of Tennessee (2001)