Norris Dam was named for the great champion of public power, Senator George W. Norris. As early as 1911 investigations of the Clinch River basin had shown excellent opportunities for large water storage. After Wilson Dam in Alabama went into operation in 1926, it was realized that the flow of the Tennessee needed to be regulated by storage dams on the tributary rivers. But it was not until TVA was created in 1933 that actual work was begun on Norris and the present systems of dams.
Norris Dam was the first dam built by TVA in its system of projects on the Tennessee River and tributaries to provide flood control, electric power generation and navigation. Located on the Clinch River about 26 miles northwest of Knoxville, and four miles east of Lake City, Norris Dam controls the runoff from a 29,000–square-mile-area of northeast Tennessee and southwest Va.
Construction of Norris began in 1933, and was completed three years later. At the peak of construction TVA had nearly 2,800 men at work building the dam and preparing the reservoir area.
More than one-third mile long and 265 feet high, Norris Dam contains a million cubic yards of concrete. The entire project including dam, switchyard, and reservoir cost initially $30.5 million.
Norris Lake is the largest of 18 major TVA reservoirs that control tributary rivers flowing into the Tennessee. At full pool level it is 72 miles long, covers more than 34,000 acres, and has an average depth of about 75 feet. It holds as much as 830 billion gallons of water.
Because of its large capacity and strategic location, Norris is one of the key reservoirs in the TVA flood control operation which has prevented over $400 million in flood damages.
[Submitted by Brenda Foster]