Norris Lake is a spectacular Tennessee attraction for all kinds of water sports such as swimming, skiing, wakeboarding, fishing and many other lake activities. Boaters come as far as Wisconsin and Florida but most of the population comes from Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. Boaters and lake activists can find much to discover as Norris Lake covers 33,840 acres of water and 809 miles of shoreline including 50 miles of island shoreline. Norris Lake is a combination of to rivers, the Clinch and the Powell River. Norris Lake stretches 72 miles up the Clinch River and 56 miles up the Powell River. At its widest Norris Lake is 1.2 miles wide.
With Norris Lake sitting on the foothills of the Cumberland Mountains it provides picturesque views of the mountains from its fresh, warm clear waters. The warm water is a residence to many species of fish. Large mouth, small mouth bass, walleye, Rock fish and many other species are well known to reach 50lbs in weight. The rumor around the lake is that, there are catfish the size of VW bugs lurking around the deep waters of the dam. Norris Lake is the largest reservoir on the Tennessee River system.
Norris, Tennessee was the town created by the government to house the workers. Building of the dam started in October, 1933 just a few months after its parent organization was created, the TVA(Tennessee Valley Authority). It was TVA’s first hydroelectric project. When construction was completed in March of 1936 it cost 36 million to build and was named after former Nebraska Senator George Norris. Senator George Norris was a long time supporter of government owner power generation facilities.
It was constructed as a concrete gravity-type dam. It is 1860 (570 m) feet and stretches 265 (81 m) feet high and houses to 50 MW generators.
Ronald Wank a Hungarian-American was awarded the job of chief architect from 1933 through 1944 of the TVA when he revised the plans for Norris Dam. He gave the concrete dam a modern look that was very controversial at the time.
Before there was water
The land that Norris Lake resides on was settled for 200 years prior. 3,500 families called the Norris Basin home a long with their farms that they depended on for income and food. Moving all the families and some 5,000 buried bodies needed to be moved before the water levels rised. Just before the Norris Basin was flooded a survey was completed.
94 percent of property owners didn’t have electricity.
30 percent of property owners didn’t have toilet facilities including outhouses
65 percent of property owners had to walk over 300 yards to fetch fresh water
8 percent of property owners owned a radio.
50 percent of property owners read newspapers
26 percent of property owners owned automobiles.
One of TVA’s main purposes was to increase the level of living in the area with controlled flood levels and electricity. Farmers were given cash settlements for their land and some were moved to better living facilities.
The Norris Basin area receives an average of 45 inches of rain a year. The amount of rain was devastating downstream, causing property damage and crop damage from flooding. Therefore, Norris Dam was an undeniable option needed to control flood stages downstream.