After World War I, the City of Augusta renewed lobbying efforts to create a reliable river channel to Savannah. The 1922 River and Harbors Act authorized a navigation study and called on the City of Augusta to prove interest by starting a municipal boat line. Augusta purchased the steamboat Altamaha and formed the Savannah River Improvement Commission in 1923.
In 1930, Congress approved a channel six-feet deep, improvements, and a lock and dam below Augusta. But the Great Depression delayed the planned river improvements until September 27, 1933. Finally, the lock and dam was approved as a Public Works Administration (PWA) project under Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. The project was part of PWA, which was intended to provide jobs to the unemployed and revive the economy.
In 1934, the City of Augusta negotiated property purchases on both sides of the Savannah River. First, 9.45 acres on the South Carolina bank and then 38.82 acres on the Georgia bank were deeded to the US Government. Augusta purchased a new diesel boat, Nancy Lee, and an oil company installed a tow boat and barge on the river. Officials and businesspeople saw Augusta as a new distribution point for petroleum products.