Exploring East Tennessee: Norris Dam

 It's been a while since I've written a post about places in East Tennessee that are "off the beaten path", mostly because we haven't been anywhere. Mid- to late- May is a good time to go camping: it's not too hot & humid yet and the nights are still cool. The problem we have is that we usually decide at the last minute to go, and with COVID, camping sites are hard to come by. I looked at our usual campgrounds but every place was full at the beginning of the week. There was a campground in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park that we hadn't been to but there is no electricity at National Park Campgrounds (at least around here). My next step was to look for state parks around us. I found Norris Dam State Park, which is just north of Knoxville. At the beginning of the week, there were plenty of spots available. So that made me a little nervous. I figured it was either going to be a hidden gem or a really crappy campground. I'm not going to get into our campsite or the campground here. If you're interested, visit Flyin' the Coop.

CH said it is just unbelievable that I grew up about an hour away from this state park and had never been. If I've been, I don't remember it. The State Park itself has some cool history: Norris Dam was the first dam built through FDR's New Deal. It was built by the CCC. 

Parts of the CCC camp are still standing and in use by the Tennessee State Park System. The cabins are available for rent. 

The "Tea Room" is available as a venue for weddings or other events. The day we were there, people were setting up for a wedding reception.

We also visited a grist mill and saw the threshing barn. The mill was a little cool.
The inside of the mill.
There were several millstones in the sidewalk.
Call me crazy, but if you've seen 1 threshing barn, you've seen them all! 
Just up the hill from the mill, there is a small museum. It had some pretty cool things in it.

Can you imagine walking around in these all day? No wonder the ladies in old photographs aren't smiling!

Just around the dam area, there is an "Orchard Trail". I'm not real sure that's what it's called, but there are trails winding through different orchards. There are signs designating what orchard you're in.
But the best part of the day was lunch. Between the dam and the grist mill there is a little microbrewery called Clinch River Brewing. We almost missed it.
The menu is rather small, but with a Louisiana flair. The young lady we spoke with said that a couple owned it, and he was from Louisiana. It's crazy how we unknowingly keep running into people with a LA connection. (Just in case you forgot/didn't know, MS lives in Louisiana.)
The beverage was really tasty, and the food was pretty good:
The atmosphere wasn't bad, either. There were rainbow trout swimming in the pond.
The obligatory selfie:
We thought the area was pretty nice. I don't know if we'll go back (been there, done that), unless it's to go to the Museum of Appalachia, which is just around the corner from the little museum we visited. If you're looking for a little piece of history (and need a little something to eat or drink!) then this is the spot.
Coming to East Tennessee for a visit and looking for some "off the beaten path" places to explore? You'll want to check out the posts in my Exploring East Tennessee series. Oh, and check back from time to time...we'll do more exploring (which means more posts!).

1 comment:

  1. I'm thinking my parents took us there when we were kids, but I'm not sure. Anyway it looks interesting. Thanks for sharing.


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