This heavily forested, 3,687-acre park lies on the southern shore of Norris Lake, one of five demonstration parks developed by the Tennessee Valley Authority in cooperation with the National Park Service and the Civilian Conservation Corps. The park is named for the rugged, rocky line of ridges that touches at least three counties and is bisected by the Clinch River.
While only accessible by foot from the developed areas of the park, the ridge looms over the “Loyston Sea” area of Norris Lake. Before the park, self-sufficient farm families lived a simple life here in small cabins, making their own clothing and quilts and growing their own food. Today, 11 miles of hiking trails mainly follow the former county roads, allowing glimpses of the old communities.
Beach and boat rentals are on Big Ridge Lake, a 49-acre spring-fed sub-impound of Norris Lake. The swim beach, built by the CCC, featured heavily in the posters and advertising of the 1940s and 1950s. The structures on the park reflect the craftsmanship and stonework of the CCC, and along the trails you may see remnants of the homes and farms that existed here prior to the birth of the TVA.
Other notable features of the park include: the Norton Gristmill built in 1825, remnants of Sharp's Station Fort construction in the late 1700s, and Indian Rock, where a plaque commemorates the death of Peter Graves, a settler of Sharp's Station who was killed by Indians. The Young Dan’l Boone television series was filmed here in the late 1970s, and country music superstar Kenny Chesney worked here as a lifeguard.
The book Ghosts and Haunts of the Appalachian Foothills, (Rutledge Press, 1993) describes park visitors of a different kind. The Ghost House hikes in October remain one of the park’s most popular annual events, along with an Easter egg hunt and the August Bluegrass Music Festival.
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