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.
Norris: Facts + Figures
- Construction of Norris Dam began in 1933, just a few months after the creation of TVA, and was completed in 1936.
- The dam is 265 feet high and stretches 1,860 feet across the Clinch River.
- Norris Dam is a hydroelectric facility. It has two generating units with a summer net dependable capacity of 126 megawatts. Net dependable capacity is the amount of power a dam can produce on an average day, minus the electricity used by the dam itself.
- The town of Norris was built to house construction workers on the dam. It was a planned community that became a model for others throughout the nation. The town was sold to private owners in 1948.
- Norris has 809 miles of shoreline and 33,840 acres of water surface. It is the largest reservoir on a tributary of the Tennessee River.
- In a year with normal rainfall, the water level in Norris Reservoir varies about 29 feet from summer to winter to provide seasonal flood storage.
- The reservoir has a flood-storage capacity of 1,113,000 acre-feet.
- Find Norris Dam off Hwy. 441 at 30 Powerhouse Way, Norris, Tenn.
More Information on Norris Reservoir
The Unified Development of the Tennessee River plan
stressed TVA was to provide flood control, navigation and electricity for the region. TVA’s dams are tangible evidence of its primary mission: improving life in the Tennessee Valley. We’re celebrating the plan with an in-depth look at 32 of the dams it comprises.
Kayaking, rafting and trout fishing—all activities that you can do in the tailwaters below TVA dams—are growing in popularity. Find out more about how you can “go with the flow” and get involved with these fun sports.