Norris Dam State Park in Tennessee

We visited Norris Dam State Park in Tennessee along with all the national park sites.  Before I start writing about being back in Ohio, I thought I would tell you about Norris Dam.

Norris Dam was built in the 1930’s and formed Norris Reservoir.  The dam was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps as part of the Tennessee Valley Authority which brought electricity to southern Appalachia.  The TVA was envisioned as a federally-owned electric utility and regional economic development agency. It still exists today as the nation’s largest public power provider.  Norris Dam State Park was named for Nebraska Senator George William Norris, who lobbied intensively for the creation of the Tennessee Valley Authority in the early 1930s.

Norris Dam State Park sits on more than 4,000 acres located on Norris Reservoir. With more than 800 miles of shoreline, the park offers recreational boating, skiing, and fishing. The park has a fully equipped marina with boat ramp available to the general public. Houseboats and pontoon boats are available for rent along with other types of boats.

The park has 19 historic CCC cabins and 10 deluxe cabins. The historic cabins are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. All are located in quiet, wooded settings and are equipped with electrical appliances, cooking utensils and linens.

The park has two campgrounds. The east campground has 25 sites with water and electric hook-up and 10 primitive sites for tents only; the west campground has 50 sites with water and electric hook-up. All of the sites have a table, grill and fire pit.

Norris Dam State Park has several interesting historical buildings brought from outside the park.  The Rice Gristmill, originally constructed in 1798 in Union County, was dismantled and rebuilt on Clear Creek in 1935. The Caleb Crosby Threshing Barn was originally built on the Holston River in the 1830s and relocated to its present site in 1978. It displays old farm tools, plows, and a horse-drawn wagon.  The Lenoir Museum has a diverse collection of many artifacts that depict life in Southern Appalachia from 12,000 years ago to the present day.

The dam
The reservoir
The river
Historic barn
Historic grist mill

Tom and I visited Norris Dam State Park for three reasons.  First, it was very close to our campground and had a lot of hiking trails.  We especially enjoyed the hiking trail that followed the river below the dam.  It is a two mile loop that wanders through a wooded area, past parking lots and picnic areas.  The second reason we went was because my mom tells about the time she visited Norris Dam with her father.  Grandpa Irvin was very involved in rural electrification in Ohio.  Mom and Grandpa toured several TVA sites in 1953 when she graduated from high school.  Norris Dam was one of those sites and they visited the same year the park was established.  Third, Tom was there with his father when Tom was in high school.

Trail along the river below the dam

We enjoyed our time at Norris Dam State Park.  It is a beautiful place to hike, camp or go boating.  Next time we camp in the area, we will stay at Norris Dam instead of the KOA.