"Black Tide"

"Tom's dead goose lay in the middle of the pond. It wasn't deep -- the Kingston plant had been completed only six years earlier—so he waded in, gray muck sucking at his boots, fetched his bird, and waded back out. He stood at the edge, stamping his feet. Just coal ash, was all, no worse than mud. And what was a little ash on a man's boots, especially after everything the TVA had done for east Tennessee?

The Grizzards went back six generations in Roane County, and the first five were born into a world without electricity. No lights, no air conditioners, no refrigerators. The TVA changed that. It was a federal agency, a product of the New Deal, created specifically to power the Tennessee Valley. It dammed rivers and flooded fields to feed hydroelectric plants, and it built coal-fired generators in Tennessee and Alabama and Kentucky, until all of poor, forlorn Appalachia was ablaze with light and promise."

Sean Flyyn reports a long-form feature in GQ's June 2009 issue.

Source: GQ, 06/04/2009