This 4,038-acre park, located on the Norris Reservoir, began in 1933 as the first Tennessee Valley Authority project. Miles of trails lead hikers through deeply forested valleys and ridges. The Rice Gristmill built in the 1790s and restored by TVA still operates during the summer months.
Many other attractions draw visitors to Norris Dam State Park, including the Lenoir Museum. The museum contains many artifacts that Will and Helen Lenoir gathered over the years in an effort to preserve an understanding of the everyday life of people in Appalachia. Mr. Lenoir worked tirelessly to find artifacts and artisans to tell the story of pre-TVA life and continued sharing his stories and information with museum visitors until after his 90th birthday.
The Rice Gristmill, which “Uncle Jim” Rice and his sons built in 1798, is of the overshot design with hickory gears. The original millstones, brought from France as ballast in a ship, are still in place. Over the years, the mill powered a saw mill, a cotton gin, a trip hammer and a generator that provided the Rice home with electricity. Four generations of the Rice family operated the mill, until TVA bought the property in 1935 and prepared to flood the land with the construction of the dam. CCC workers carefully dismantled the mill, labeling each part, and reassembled it in its current location. Also on the site is the Caleb Crosby’s hand-built threshing barn. Again, the barn and mechanism were disassembled before the Cherokee dam flooded the area. The parts, including one gear as large as a wagon wheel, were stored for 34 years before being reassembled at the current location.
Norris Dam is a good year-round birding location. The area offers a variety of habitats including Norris Lake, the Clinch River, riparian forests, mature woodlands, old fields and hedgerows, and a woodland stream.
The park offers a fully equipped marina with boat ramp available to the general public. The park has 19 rustic cabins and 10 deluxe cabins. Norris Dam State Park also has two meeting rooms located in the west section on the park that can accommodate 10 to 75 people. The tea room is also a very popular venue for weddings, reunions and receptions.
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Office: 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., 7 days a week. Park closes at 10:00 p.m.
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