The City of Norris was built out of necessity, but it wasn’t built haphazardly. Norris was a planned community built by the Tennessee Valley Authority to temporarily house the workers who were building the first TVA dam, Norris Dam. The city’s ultimate purpose was to be a permanent town that demonstrated cooperative living and utilized the most modern convenience of that time, electricity.
The houses, which were modestly built out of natural stone and native cedar, were fully electric, with ceiling heat and refrigerators, which was quite impressive since only about two percent of residents of the area had electricity before the city was built. The houses may look scattered and misplaced, but they were actually strategically placed in relation to the terrain and surrounding community common areas where families could work together to grow gardens.
TVA also built the once-largest electrically heated structure in the entire world, which functioned as a school for all grades, an adult education facility and a community center.
TVA owned and managed the city until 1948, when the government auctioned it off. A Philadelphia consortium bought the entire city of Norris, houses and all, for just over $2 million and sold it in pieces, mainly to residents.
Norris has remained virtually unchanged since the early 1950s. Residents still pick up their mail at the local post office, original homes still line the meandering trails, and the city’s inhabitants foster a community minded spirit. Its citizens view it as an oasis in the busy world of the surrounding Knoxville, Oak Ridge and Clinton communities.
The City of Norris is also the southern gateway to Norris Lake, home of the Norris Watershed and neighbor to the Clinch River. Norris Lake attracts an abundance of visitors each year, who all flock to the area for fishing opportunities, watersports, boating and more. Norris Watershed offers trails for hiking, biking and even horseback riding, and the Clinch River offers great trout fishing!
In addition to Norris Lake and Norris Watershed, Residents and visitors in the City of Norris can enjoy tree-lined streets and sidewalks, free concerts during the summer, a museum and so much more. Visit Norris too see for yourself all of the great things it has to offer.