Construction of Norris Dam began in 1933, just a few months after the creation of TVA, and was completed in 1936. It has two generating units with a summer net dependable capacity of 126 megawatts. The reservoir area also helped form the backbone for the Tennessee state park system.
Norris Reservoir in east Tennessee extends 73 miles up the Clinch River and 56 miles up the Powell from Norris Dam. It was the first dam TVA built, and is named for Senator George Norris of Nebraska, author of the legislation that created TVA.
Norris is a popular tourist and recreation destination. In the 1930s, TVA established demonstration public parks at several locations on Norris Reservoir, including Cove Lake, Big Ridge and the area around Norris Dam. These parks later became the nucleus of Tennessee’s state park system.
Norris features numerous hiking trails. The River Bluff Trail is the longest at 3.1 miles and offers rich pockets of wildflowers. The Songbird Trail is, as the name suggests, a popular area for birding. The Loyston Point trail system is a must-ride destination for mountain bikers.
Water sports at Norris include boating, water skiing, swimming and excellent fishing. The Tennessee state record brown trout was caught in the Clinch River below Norris Dam.
Find this staffed visitor center north of Knoxville off Interstate 75, Exit 122. It’s open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, April through November.