Built between 1933 and 1936, Norris was the first of many dams constructed by the Tennessee Valley Authority. It is 265 feet high and spans 1,860 feet across the Clinch River. The multi-purpose dam provides flood control, maintains navigational water levels and generates electrical power. The reservoir backs up on both the Clinch and Powell Rivers, offering 809 miles of shoreline and 33,840 acres of water surface. Norris Lake is very popular for its abundant outdoor recreational opportunities: boating, water-skiing, fishing, camping and more.
There are viewing areas on both sides of the dam with picnic tables. A marina lies just above the dam on the north side, and there are numerous other access areas to the reservoir at various spots along the shoreline. From the dam area one may also find trailheads for those who wish to hike through the surrounding forest.
The contents of this Museum of Early Americana were given to the State of Tennessee by Will G. and Helen H. Lenoir, to be kept on permanent display.
The Lenoirs collected for more than 60 years. Both had a concept of history and were sensitive to the rapidly changing times. They strongly desired that the changes not wipe out an appreciation of the hard work and ingneuity that were a part of the rapidly disappearing everyday life of the East Tennessee mountaineer.
Unable to build a museum to house the items, Mr. Lenoir contracted to donate them to the state of Tennessee. The Tennessee Valley Authority gave six acres of land facing the Clinch River just south of Norris Dam, and it was incorporated into Norris Dam State park. Beside the museum are the Crosby Threshing Barn and the 18th Century Rice Grist Mill. All are open to the public free of charge.
Wednesday - Sunday, year round
9:00 A.M. - 5:00 P.M.
Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas
Caleb Crosby originally buillt this barn and threshing machine in the 1830's on the north side of the Holston River. It was built entirely of wood by hand.
Among the maze of wooden gears is one as large as a wagon wheel. The threshing barn stood for almost 100 years, a short distance down the Holston from where U.S. Hwy. 25-E now spans Cherokee Lake. Before the barn site was flooded by the lake, Powell and Bryan Crosby, grandsons of Caleb, donated the barn and threshing machine to the National Park Sevrice.
Since no such barn ever existed in the Great Smoky Mountains pre-park years, the idea to reassemble the barn within the park boundaries was rejected. Officials recognizing the value of the barn, kept the dismantled timbers sheltered and in good condition for 34 years until which time they were donated to the Tennessee State Park system. The barn was reconstructed at its present site, near the Rice Gristmill and Lenoir Museum, in 1978.
Music has long played an important part in the life of he Tennessee mountain people. Periodically the Lenoir Museum hosts local musicians and singers in free concerts. We were fortunate to be at the museum on a Sunday afternoon and enjoyed such an event. It was very informal but well attended, mostly by local folks. We loved the old-time stringed instruments, harmonica and bluegrass twang.
The free concerts are held irregularly so call the museum to learn of upcoming events.
2121 Norris Freeway
Norris, TN 37705
About one mile below Norris Dam on the Clinch River is the Weir Dam. It was built in 1984 for regulate the water on the Clinch, providing better habitat for macroinvertebrates, the primary trout food base.
This is a very interesting spot along the river, right on US-441, with a parking area and a walkway leading to the dam. There are ramps above and below the dam to provide for portaging of canoes around the turbulent water.
Trout fishing has greatly improved on the Clinch since the building of Weir Dam, and it is said to be one of the better cold water fisheries in Tennessee. Rainbow Trout make up about 80 to 90% of the catch and native Brown Trout also do well .