Serious flooding of the Savannah River in 1852 prompted the first consideration of the construction of a levee, a man-made earth embankment, but Augusta experienced the calamity of several other destructive floods before construction of the levee began in 1913.
The section through town was built by first erecting a long railroad trestle, using railroad cars to haul in the fill soil, and covering over the structure of the trestle itself.
The levee withstood a test of floodwaters five times between 1918 and 1928, but was severely damaged in 1929 when waters crested at more than forty-five feet. Desperate attempts to sandbag the levee failed, and several sections were destroyed. The Works Progress Administration supplied labor and much of the funding for reconstruction and enlargement of the levee during the 1930's.
Today, the Clarks Hill and other dams built after World War II harness the power of the river. While these upstream reservoirs aid in flood control, the levee remains as additional protection.