Details

  • DesignationNational Scenic Byway (2021)
  • Intrinsic QualitiesRecreation
  • LocationTN
  • Length21 miles
Byway Visitor Information
City of Norris
Statewide Byway Partners
Tennessee Department of Transportation
Downloadable Tennessee Byways Guide & Map
The Norris Dam  is a hydroelectric and flood control structure and was th first proejct of the Tennessee Valley Authority.
Tennessee Byways Photo

Overview

The Norris Freeway, located in eastern Tennessee, is steeped in American innovation history. The byway crosses over the Norris Dam, which was built to control the flooding in the Clinch and Powell River Watershed. The completion of the byway represented an innovation triumph as a number of issues had to be addressed: the absence of electrical service in rural areas, erosion, and landscape restoration, and a modern road leading to Knoxville, the headquarters of the Authority and a supply center for dam building materials.

Local Byway Partners

Story of the Byway

Norris Freeway, located near the heart of East Tennessee, is a byway steeped in American innovation history. This byway passes over Norris Dam, the location of which was selected by the Tennessee Valley Authority, to control the flooding in the Clinch and Powell River watershed. Beside flood control, there were a range of conditions that were to be addressed: the absence of electrical service in rural areas, erosion, and landscape restoration, and a modern road leading to Knoxville, the headquarters of the Authority and a supply center for dam building materials.

The byway then continues along the Norris Dam State Park. The park was built in coordination with the Norris Dam. Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) enrollees were sent to build the park. Many of the facilities at the park were constructed by the CCC and are still in use. Today, the park boasts 19 historic CCC cabins, which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Norris Dam State Park was named for Nebraska Senator George William Norris, who lobbied intensively for the creation of the Tennessee Valley Authority in the early 1930s. Norris Dam State Park sits on more than 4,000 acres located on Norris Reservoir. With more than 800 miles of shoreline, the park offers recreational boating, skiing, and fishing. The park has a fully equipped marina with boat ramp available to the general public. Houseboats and pontoon boats are available for rent along with other types of boats. The park has two campgrounds. The east campground has 25 sites with water and electric hook-up and 10 primitive sites for tents only; the west campground has 50 sites with water and electric hook-up. All of the sites have a table, grill and fire pit.

The Lenoir Museum has a diverse collection of many artifacts that depict life in Southern Appalachia from 12,000 years ago to the present day. The Rice Gristmill, originally constructed in 1798 in Union County, was dismantled and rebuilt on Clear Creek in 1935. The Caleb Crosby Threshing Barn was originally built on the Holston River in the 1830s and relocated to its present site in 1978. It displays old farm tools, plows, and a horse-drawn wagon.

Nearby is the Museum of Appalachia. A Smithsonian affiliate, the museum portrays an authentic mountain farm and pioneer village and offers cultural and historical exhibits as well as a home-style restaurant. The museum hosts a number of fun events throughout the year. In June, they host the Barn Dance, a dinner and auction to benefit the museum. Visitors on Independence Day can celebrate the occasion with an old-fashioned “anvil shoot,” where the museum uses gunpowder to launch a 200 lbs anvil hundreds of feet into the air. The anvil shoot is the centerpiece of an all-day celebration that includes a national bell-ringing ceremony, flag procession, live music, southern food, demonstrations from blacksmiths, beekeepers, dulcimer makers, spinners, weavers, rail splitters, and more. Other exciting events include Fall Heritage Days, A Candlelight Christmas, and Sheep Shearing Day.

While the byway skirts the City of Norris, visitors should stop by the historic town to see the economic impact of the dam’s innovation.

Driving Directions

The byway begins in Rock Top, once known as Coal Creek and heads southeast to the unincorporated community of Halls. Along the way, visitors will cross the Norris Dam, drive along the Norris Dam State Park, and skirt around the City of Norris and the town’s watershed and greenbelt. Visitors will cross through the counties of Anderson, Campbell, and Knox.

Points of Interest

  • Norris Dam

    The Norris Dam was built to control the flooding in the Clinch and Powell River watershed and is an innovation marvel.

  • Norris Dam State Park

    The Norris Dam State Park offers 800 miles of shoreline and opportunities for recreational boating, skiing, and fishing.

  • Museum of Appalachia

    The Museum of Appalachia is a living history museum that tells the story of a pioneer mountain farm-village.

Itinerary

  • Innovation, Adventure, and Rural Life on the Norris Highway

    Start your day at the Norris Dam, the location of which was selected by the Tennessee Valley Authority, to control the flooding in the Clinch and Powell River watershed and marvel at the innovation needed to achieve such a feat in a rural area.

    Drive along the Norris Freeway through the Norris Dam State Park. Stop to examine the 19 historic CCC cabins, which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and were built in the 1930s.. Norris Dam State Park sits on more than 4,000 acres located on Norris Reservoir. With more than 800 miles of shoreline, the park offers recreational boating, skiing, and fishing. The park has a fully equipped marina with boat ramp available to the general public. Houseboats and pontoon boats are available for rent along with other types of boats. The park has two campgrounds.

    After some outdoor recreation, take the opportunity to reflect on the longer history of the region at the Lenoir Museum, which has a diverse collection of many artifacts that depict life in Southern Appalachia from 12,000 years ago to the present day. A Smithsonian affiliate, the museum portrays an authentic mountain farm and pioneer village and offers cultural and historical exhibits as well as a home-style restaurant. The museum hosts a number of fun events throughout the year.
    While the byway skirts the City of Norris, visitors should stop by the historic town to see the economic impact of the dam’s innovation. There are many excellent restaurants in the area and fine opportunities for lodging.

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