The town of Norris stands as one of Tennessee’s most beautiful lakeside destinations. Nestled in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains on one of the cleanest lakes in the country, Norris remains a delightful, peaceful destination for residents and visitors alike.
While Norris has built a name for itself as the ideal lakeside community, its history is composed of far more than beautiful vistas and pastoral settings. Rather, the town dates back to the early 1930’s, as a planned community for nearly 1,400 inhabitants.
A design loosely based on the English garden city movement of the 1890’s, Norris featured winding roads, houses that did not always face the street and architecture that resembled the vernacular style of the region. It was to be the first self-contained town in the United States to utilize greenbelt design principles and home to some of the nation’s first all electric homes.
The community project was orchestrated by the Tennessee Valley Authority, and much of the housing was used to house the workers constructing the agency’s first hydro-electric project, the Norris Dam. A product of President Roosevelt’s New Deal, the TVA established a unique problem solving approach that integrated resource management for the entire region.
In 1948, the town was sold at public auction to a group of private investors, who then sold the last piece of real estate to a local corporation of Norris residents in 1953.
What began as a planned project boasting such accomplishments as the world’s first all-electric milk producing plant and the first town in Tennessee to have a complete system of dial telephones, has evolved into a town of charming distinction, combining history, natural beauty and a sense of community quite unlike any other.
Norris Lake was the first lake in the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) system, constructed in 1934. It has 880 miles of shoreline and encompasses almost 35,000 acres.
Norris Lake is the deepest TVA lake. It has extensive year-round main channel waterways.
It is the highest rated TVA lake with approximately 96% purity. It is crystal clear with 25′ visibility. The natural stone and hardwood shorelines are the perfect accent to the teal blue color of the water and almost 80 percent of the 230,000 people who live in the Clinch-Powell watershed depend on the river system for drinking water and other benefits.
Norris Lake is fed by two rivers, the Clinch and the Powell.
Norris Lake, encompassed by Cove Lake State Park, Big Ridge State Park and Norris Dam State Park, is the only lake to have three state parks.
Approximately 75-80% of Norris Lake shoreline is controlled by TVA and the State of Tennessee. These areasare designated Wildlife Management Areas, State Parks, Country & City Parks and Marinas.
The abundance of deep water coves, pristine shoreline, numerous natural stone caves and depth of Norris Lake make it perfect for recreation, boating, water sports, hiking and fishing.
Stripers, Trout, Large and Smallmouth Bass, Walleye, Catfish and Blue Gill are just a few of the sixty-plus fish found in Norris Lake. The lake supports warm-water, cool-water as well as cold-water sport species. Norris Lake is rated by some as a TOP 10 Bass fishing lake in North America.
Sharps Chapel History
Originally called Clinch River until its name was changed in 1869, Sharps Chapel has earned its reputation as one of Norris Lake’s most picturesque destinations. Nestled on the shores of Norris Lake, this town is not lacking for beautiful views. However, with history and historical sites almost as bountiful as its views, Sharps Chapel is an enchanting place to visit or settle.
The town’s most well known historical site is the Bait Ousley house, listed in the National Register of Historic Places since 1978. Originally built in 1835 by Jacob Sharp, son of the American Revolutionary War hero, Henry Sharp. The elder Sharp had originally settled in the area on a 700 acre land grant. This house was sold to Jacob Ousley in 1874 and remained in his family for 132 years. Remaining unoccupied for almost 30 years, this house gained the reputation as being haunted, until it was finally purchased and restored in 2006.
Even a trip to the post office in Sharps Chapel will surround you in history. The post office building was built in 1866. Since the day it was opened, the building has operated continuously.
You will also find the administrative office for Chuck Swan State Forest and Wildlife Management Area located here in Sharps Chapel. This area offers 24,444 acres of rolling terrain and wildlife. You will find picnic areas, 47 historical cemeteries and even a shooting range.
There is something for everyone in Sharps Chapel. One visit and you will see why.