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Just 25 miles north of Knoxville, Tennessee, Norris Lake is the first reservoir created by the Tennessee Valley Authority. Named for Senator George Norris, author of the legislation that created the TVA, Norris Lake is 129 miles long and surrounded by plenty of secluded coves to explore.
Extending 73 miles up the Clinch River and 56 miles up the Powell from Norris Dam, Norris Lake was filled in 1937. Construction on Norris Dam was started in 1933 just after the TVA was created, and the dam was completed in 1936. It's the largest flood control storage reservoir on a tributary of the Tennessee River. The area around Norris Lake gets around 45 inches of rain a year making the lake an important tool to prevent flooding. In winter reservoir levels draw down around 30 feet to prepare for flood storage.
The town of Norris was a planned community built to house the people that worked on the dam. Based on the English Garden Movement, Norris consisted of 12 basic Appalachian style houses which were some of the fist all electric homes in the area. In addition to building the town, the TVA also established parks including Cove Lake and Big Ridge that became the nucleus of the Tennessee State Park System.
Big Ridge State Park has over 15 miles of maintained trails and camping. Its 3,600 acres are heavily forested and offer plenty of chances to see wildlife and explore. Loyston Point Recreation Area is run by the TVA with camping, swimming and trails along Norris Lake. Norris Dam State Park has over 4,000 acres for camping, hiking and exploring with lots of wildflowers and songbirds. In 2005 the TVA opened a new Visitors Center at the dam. Nearby, the Lenoir Museum Cultural Complex includes the Lenoir Pioneer Museum, an 18th century rice gristmill, and the Crosby threshing barn.
Norris Lake is large enough to support all kinds of water sports. There is boating, waterskiing, and swimming, and excellent fishing. There is some controversy about stocking striped bass in the lake, but Norris Lake is also stocked for crappie and walleye. The lake also supports healthy populations of rockfish and bass. The Tennessee state record brown trout was caught in the Clinch River below Norris Dam.
With its miles of shoreline, secluded coves, beautiful water and diverse history along with everything Knoxville has to offer, Norris Lake is sure to become a favorite getaway.
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