Burkesville was a fairly busy river port whose heyday came during the latter part of the nineteenth century when water transportation was the most feasible way to move large quantities of goods. The rise of larger craft like the riverboat required diligent dredging of the riverbed to keep it navigable so far upstream. The last steamboat docked in Burkesville in 1929, which was the year after the first major road was opened to the larger city of Glasgow, forty miles to the west. River trade and dredging died out as Burkesville waned in economic importance, and it was ended permanently when the Tennessee Valley Authority built dams without locks both upstream (Wolf Creek Dam) and downstream (Dale Hollow Dam) in the mid-twentieth century. While this put a definitive end to commercial river traffic, it had the benefit of controlling flooding that plagued the town for years. Now only recreational craft ply the river's waters.