Construction of Norris Dam began in 1933 as the first project by the Tennessee Valley Authority, a Great Depression-era entity created by the federal government to control flooding and bring electricity and economic development to the Tennessee Valley. Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) enrollees were sent to build the park. Many of the facilities at the park were constructed by the CCC and are still in use. 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.
Located on the shores of Norris Lake with more than 800 miles of shoreline, Norris Dam State Park offers recreational boating, skiing, and fishing. The park offers a fully equipped marina with boat ramp available to the general public. House boats and pontoon boats are available for rent along with other types of boats. For boat information contact Norris Dam Marina at 865-494-8138. Norris Dam State Park sits on more than 4,000 acres located on Norris Reservoir.
The park has 19 historic cabins and 10 deluxe cabins. All are located in quiet, wooded settings and are completely equipped with electrical appliances, cooking utensils and linens. The rustic cabins are were originally constructed in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps and are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The rustic CCC cabins are currently closed for renovations. This project is estimated to be completed in the summer of 2015.
The park also 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 15 hiking trails ranging in difficulty which provide spectacular views of Norris Lake and the surrounding hills and valleys.
The Lenoir Museum has a diverse collection of many artifacts which depict life in Southern Appalachia from 12,000 years ago to present day. 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.
Norris Dam State Park has two meeting rooms located in the west section on the park that can accommodate 10 to 75 people. These meeting rooms can be reserved up to one year in advance. The Tea Room is also a very popular venue for weddings, reunions and receptions. For more information, please contact the park office at 865-426-7461 or toll free at 1-800-543-9335.
Nearby attractions include the Museum of Appalachia. A Smithsonian affiliate, the museum portrays an authentic mountain farm and pioneer village and offers cultural and historic exhibits as well as a home-style restaurant. Also nearby is Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. Learn more about this popular 125,000 acre nature preserve.