A growing use of the river
An immensely popular and important industry spawned by the development of the Tennessee River is recreational boating, which has experienced a tremendous boom since the late 1980s. When recreational boaters wish to travel from one section of the Tennessee River to another, they lock through just as the towboats and barges do. The locks provide passage between reservoirs for an average of 17,000 recreational craft each year.
More than just an opportunity for family fun on the water, recreational boating contributes to significant economic growth throughout the Valley. Since 1988, boat manufacturing operations and dealerships have increased about 16 percent in counties adjacent to the river. The number of marinas in the same Tennessee River counties more than doubled during this time period. Boating-related industries, including boat manufacturing and retail dealerships, also contribute to the regional economy and provide jobs for thousands of Valley residents.