JFK+50: Volume 6, No. 2025NORRIS DAM IS EIGHTY YEARS OLD
Norris, Tennessee (JFK+50) A celebration is being held today here in Norris honoring the 80th birthday of Norris Dam* which opened on July 28, 1936.
The dam was a game-changer for the Tennessee Valley which previously had little to no electricity. It is estimated that only 3 in 100 families were fortunate enough to have it.
The idea to build a dam at Norris had been presented to President Calvin Coolidge in the 1920s by the US Army Corps of Engineers, but he vetoed it. Ironically, predominantly Republican East Tennessee would have to rely on Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt to sign the act creating the Tennessee Valley Authority in 1933.
Construction on Norris Dam, named after Senator George Norris** of Nebraska who sponsored the TVA Act, began in October 1933. TVA employed 2750 workers but on the negative side had to move out 2899 families in the process.
Progress is most always made with sacrifice but as the Knoxville News-Sentinel put it....
"Norris Dam led to the transformation of a region and we have all benefited from it."
*Norris Dam is located on the Clinch River in Anderson & Campbell Counties of Tennessee. It is a concrete gravity dam 1860 feet long & 265 feet high. It has a power capacity of 132,000 kilowatts.
Visitors to ND have included FDR, Eleanor Roosevelt, Ernie Pyle, Jesse Owens & Prime Minister Nehru of India.
**George W. Norris (1861-1944) was born in York, Ohio & graduated from Baldwin University. He earned his LLB at Valpariso University Law School.
GWN, a Republican, served progressive causes in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1903-1913 & the U.S. Senate 1913-1944.
"Norris Dam led to region's modernization," Editorial, Knoxville News-Sentinel, July 29, 2016.