Along the 800 miles of shoreline, there are two state wildlife management areas, three state parks, boat docks, county parks, and public access areas. Norris extends 56 miles up the Powell River and 72 miles up the Clinch River. The lake has a surface area of more than 34,000 acres and over 800 miles of shoreline.
In some of these wooded coves-Cove Lake, Big Ridge and the area around Norris Dam-TVA established demonstration public parks, which later became the nucleus of Tennessee’s state park system.
The first dam built by the Tennessee Valley Authority created Norris Lake. A hydroelectric dam whose construction was completed in 1936. The dam is 265 feet high and 1,860 feet long. It contains a million cubic yards of concrete. Three years later, its completion helped moderate the disastrous Ohio and Mississippi River flood of 1937. The giant drum gates at the top of the spillway were raised for the first time to impound waters that would have swelled a flood more than 600 miles away. Norris has the largest flood control storage of any TVA dam on a tributary of the Tennessee 1,473,000-acre feet
Cherokee Lake covers 30,300 acres and 463 miles of shoreline. Its watershed covers 3,428 square feet. The backdrop of gently rolling hills and farmlands make for a heavenly country retreat. It lies in Hawkins, Grainger, Hamblen and Jefferson counties. Cherokee Dam on the Holston River was constructed by TVA in 1942 in order to generate electricity during World War II and continues to supply electricity to this day. The lake provides enough activities to attract millions of recreational visitors each year.
Although Cherokee Dam was built primarily to provide electricity it has helped prevent billions of dollars worth of flood damage to areas downstream throughout the years. The deep waters of the lake loose oxygen during the summer months. These are the waters drawn for generating power. In addition, miles of perforated hoses suspended above the bottom pump oxygen to help support aquatic life at these levels. Large slow-running fans also push oxygenated water from the surface to the depths.
Activities at Cherokee Lake include boating, fishing, camping and swimming. Public access areas, county & municipal parks, commercial boat docks & resorts, Panther Creek State Park, state wildlife management area and campgrounds will have everyone ready to take a trip to the Cherokee Lake area. Game fish range from black bass, sauger, walleye, crappie and sunfish to the usual rough-fish species.
Douglas Lake is 30,400 acres nestled in the foothills of the Great Smokey Mountains. It is formed by the French Broad River and tributaries of the Nolichucky and Pigeon Rivers. Gently rolling hills offer beautiful vistas from every angle. You’ll find year round activities at the lake such as boating, picnicking, fishing, camping, swimming, bird watching and more. Douglas Lake welcomes two million recreational visitors each year. Bordering counties are Jefferson, Sevier, Hamblen and Cocke.
When it comes to fishing, Douglas Lake has you covered! It is rated in the top 5 Crappie fishing lakes in the nation and in the top 10 Large Mouth Bass fishing lakes in the nation. Other good fishing includes: white bass, sauger, black crappie, striped bass, spotted bass, walleye, blue cat, flat head catfish, channel catfish, red horse, red breast sunfish and bluegill. Fishing is a year round sport at Douglas although spring and fall are the preferred seasons.
Douglas Lake is one of the TVA reservoirs built during World War II and provided much needed hydropower during the war. Douglas continues to be an integral part of the water control system of the Tennessee Valley. Spring rainwater is stored for release in summer and fall in order to maintain an adequate navigational depth in the Tennessee River while also generating electricity.
The Douglas Lake area offers something for everyone – so pack up the camper or even the moving van and come on down!
FORT LOUDOUN LAKE
Fort Loudoun Lake is formed by the Holston, French Broad and Little Tennessee rivers and is named for the close by Fort Loudon. It is 55 miles long, has 14,600 acres of surface area and 360 miles of shoreline. Loudon, Blount and Knox counties surround Fort Loudoun Lake. This lake offers year-round recreation including: boating, fishing, waterskiing, jetskiing, swimming, camping, public parks, public lake access areas and much more.
Fort Loudoun Dam is located on Highway 321 in Lenoir City, Tennessee. It is 125 feet high, 4190 feet long and consists of 582,000 cubic yards of concrete. It is the uppermost dam on the Tennessee River’s mainstream. Construction began July 1940 and was completed July 1944. TVA began filling the reservoir in August 1943. The dam cost $41,000,000 and took over 19,500,000 man hours for completion. Fort Loudoun Dam’s main purpose is to provide electric power, flood control, recreation, and navigation. The Fort Loudoun and Tellico Dams work together to serve these purposes. Fort Loudoun Dam has a 360 foot lock which raises boats and barges from Watts Bar Lake to Fort Loudoun Lake. This lock provides transit for ½ million tons of cargo annually.
Tellico Dam and Tellico Lake are part of an extension of the Fort Loudoun project. The dam diverts water from the Little Tennessee River to Fort Loudoun Lake rather than creating electricity. Construction began March 7, 1967 and the filling of the reservoir started on November 29, 1976. During construction, a new species of fish, the Snail Darter, was discovered. Construction was halted until the species was found in other places such as Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama. The dam was completed in 1979 and is located 1 mile south of Fort Loudoun Dam. It is 129 feet high and 3238 feet long. The cost of the completed project came in around $141,000,000. The Dam created a navigational waterway up the Little Tennessee River and offers access to barges heading up the river. Tellico and Fort Loudoun lakes are connected by a canal thus making a lock unnecessary. Such a canal creates the potential for limitless long distance cruising – making it possible to boat to 21 states, the Gulf of Mexico or the Great Lakes. Tellico Lake consists of 15,860 acres of surface, 373 miles of shoreline and a 2627 square mile watershed. It is located 30 minutes southwest of Knoxville and only minutes from Maryville and Lenoir City.
WATTS BAR LAKE
Watts Bar Lake is situated in the heart of the Tennessee River Valley in Roane, Meigs, Rhea and Loudon counties. This reservoir covers 39,000 acres and has over 780 miles of shoreline. Watts Bar Dam was built in 1942 by TVA for flood control and power supply as well as recreation. If outdoors is your thing, then Watts Bar Lake has got what you need – year round. From fishing, boating, camping (tents, RV or cabins) to scenic car rides and much more.
Area marinas offer hundreds of boat slips, large and small boat rentals, cabin rentals, houseboats and supplies. Countless coves and islands with natural sand beaches offer ideal spots for virtually all water sports. Fishermen can cast a line in the wide open flats or the narrow winding river channels and expect to see jumbo crappie, lunker, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, trophy stripers and a wide array of freshwater fish. The very best fishing is said to be between April 15 and November 1 when the lake is at the summer pool level of 741 feet above sea level. During the winter months, the level usually drops about six feet.
The scenic highway that runs from Watts Barr Dam to Cherokee National Forest in the Great Smokey Mountains proves to be a delightful drive any time of year. Between the water activities, marinas, B&B’s, delightful people and campgrounds – Watts Bar Lake offers something for the whole family.
MELTON HILL LAKE
Melton Hill Lake is surrounded by Anderson, Knox, Roane and Loudon counties in East Tennessee. It covers 5,690 acres, 173 miles of shoreline and runs 57 miles in length from Melton Hill Dam to Norris Lake Dam. Melton Hill was TVA’s 21st river control project. It serves the purpose of producing electric power, navigation, recreation and maintaining an adequate supply of water. Because it is not used for flood control the level fluctuates only about five feet throughout the year. Construction began in September 1960 and ran until May 1963. Melton Hill has been generating electricity for its area since 1964.
During construction up to 1200 people could be found working on the dam at any given time. The total cost of $38.5 million included 4.1 million man hours. The dam itself is 103 feet high and 1020 feet in length and consists of approximately 250,000 cubic yards of concrete. Melton Hill’s watershed encompasses 3,343 square miles. The lock is a 75 ft X 400 ft chamber and is a 60 ft lift from Watts Bar Lake.
This beautiful lake provides year round activities with fishing, camping, picnicking, waterskiing, jetskiing, swimming, public parks, public access areas, boating, bicycling and more. A fishing trip could land you such catches as rock bass, sauger, white bass, white crappie, spotted bass, warmouth, largemouth bass or rainbow trout. Boat ramps are located both above and below the dam in order to allow access to the Watts Bar and Melton Hill Reservoirs. Melton Hill also boasts an International Rowing Course and was home to the 1981 Pan America Canoe & Kayak Championship.