Creepy Tunnel at Norris

Just in time for Halloween, researchers at Norris have uncovered a spooky tunnel replete with spider webs, dark corners and mice

In 2020, even haunted houses are virtual, and a recently discovered TVA tunnel is no different.

Located at TVA’s Norris Engineering Labs, the previously hidden tunnel had been buried beneath the surface for decades with no records or indication of its existence until now. Found during routine work as part of the Norris consolidation and renovation, the tunnel measures 40-feet long and 10-feet wide, and is complete with spider webs, mice and dark creepy corners.

“Access to the tunnel is currently prohibited due to environmental, health and safety concerns; however through a collaborative effort with TVA’s Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) program, we are able to explore the interior,” said Cindy Light, Norris Consolidation Project manager. “This drone footage is the first time anyone’s seen the inside of the tunnel since it was closed up, likely 30 to 40 years ago, if not more.”

What adds to the allure is the mysterious purpose of this bygone catacomb. Was it associated with the historic Norris kiln? Was it utilized as a bomb shelter during cold war era relations? Or perhaps it was simply a passageway to the old refractory building which was constructed in the 1950s.  

In the coming months, TVA will investigate its purpose and document future plans through consultation with the State Historic Preservation Office. But for now, excavation activities near the tunnel have been paused until a determination can be made on how to proceed.

“When working in legacy space, especially a historic R&D site, there is always an element of the unknown,” said Light. “Discovery poses a real challenge to the project’s budget and schedule, but it’s also really interesting to be a part of as we are literally uncovering history while working to preserve it at the same time.”