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The Story Of Norris - City, Dam, Tailwater

Did you know that the City of Norris owes its existence to one person - TVA’s first chairman and chief engineer, Arthur E. Morgan?

You can hear the whole story at a free, public meeting of the Clinch River Chapter, Trout Unlimited, at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11, in the parish hall at St. Francis Episcopal Church, 158 W. Norris Road, Norris.

norris city storyteller
Barry Thacker, costumed for a history presentation; image by Frances Oates

When President Franklin Delano Roosevelt selected Morgan to lead TVA in 1933, he accepted on the condition that all hiring would be based on character and merit with no political appointments. Of all the things Morgan did, his hiring stance would prove to be the most important in the success of TVA - but would doom him to failure because it alienated every politician in five states against him.

Morgan saw the Tennessee Valley as “the first place in America where we can design a civilization.” For him personally, the City of Norris fulfilled a dream of building an experimental utopian community during construction of Norris Dam.

World-renowned dam experts said his plan to build Norris Dam in less than three years was crazy because they predicted it would crack. Others called him naive when he predicted in 1936 that the tailwater below Norris Dam would become “a paradise for Clinch River trout.”

Still, all his dreams and predictions came true.

Barry Thacker, founder of Coal Creek Watershed Foundation, has taught the history of Morgan’s achievements to eighth graders at Norris Middle School; now, he’ll tell the story publicly.

The Clinch River Chapter’s mission is to conserve and enhance the Clinch River tailwater trout fishery and its watershed, through conservation projects and through education of children and adults in aquatic natural resources; for more information, visit

Published October 4, 2018

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