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 net dependable capacity of 110 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 Edge Path is a shady corridor with wheelchair access. The Songbird Trail is, as the name suggests, a popular area for birding.
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.
The Norris Dam Visitor Center is located off Interstate 75 exit 122 north of Knoxville and is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday through November except for major holidays and in times of severe weather. Staffed by TVA retirees, the visitor center overlooks the powerhouse, Norris Reservoir and a marina. It has maps, videos and displays about TVA and the construction of the dam.
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 net dependable capacity of 110 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.