History of Park

Norris Dam State Park

A Recent Historical Account

Covered in natural beauty, teeming with native flora and fauna, Norris Dam State Park also holds an interesting history.  Though the existence of the property around Norris Dam has been for recreational use since the 1930s, few know that the park did not become state property until 1953, when it’s name changed from Norris Park to Norris Dam State Park.  It was as this time the State of Tennessee went from leasing the property from TVA to actually purchasing the park in 1953 for $28,969.00. 

For the next twenty years little changes would take place on the property, as TVA had sold the state a “turn key” park, equipped with 20 cabins, picnic shelter, outdoor amphitheater, and recreation hall.  Minor repairs and utility upgrades were completed and the east campground area was added in 1962, but the next two decades showed little change.

The 1970’s did hold a few new additions to Norris Dam State Park, enriching its historical significance.  In 1970 a man by the name of William G. Lenoir officially donated his antique and artifact collections of 65 years to the State of Tennessee, with the agreement that the state would construct a museum to house this collection.  The agreement was made and the William G. and Helen H. Lenoir Museum was completed and opened in July 1975.  Also taking place from 1975-76 was the addition of the Caleb Crosby Threshing Barn to Norris Dam State Park.  The barn, once standing on the north side of the Holston River, had been disassembled, moved from its original site, and stored with the National Park service until it found its home at Norris Dam State Park.  It was here the barn was reconstructed in 1978.  The museum and threshing barn construction took place not too far from an already standing historical structure, the 18th Century Rice Grist Mill.  The Gristmill had been reconstructed near Lower Clear Creek by the CCC’s in 1936, and had been brought to the location from Lost Creek, where it was originally constructed in 1798.  In the early 1970’s TVA donated the Gristmill to the state park, officially making the mill a part of Norris Dam State Park to be maintained and operated by park staff. 

In 1976 construction was completed on the park property, to the west side of Norris Dam.  Previously housing a few cisterns, cemeteries, and old house foundations, this part of the park acreage did not provide the recreational needs sought by park visitors.  An office complex with meeting rooms, recreation hall, and swimming pool stands as the main hub of activity in the summertime, while 10 modern 3 bedroom cabins, a 50 site campground, recreation areas and picnic areas were added nearby.  A maintenance building and water and sewer treatment plant were also constructed and put into use.  Between the east and west sides of Norris Dam State Park, most any recreational need could be met, including access to the lake by the marina located on park property.

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