In 1930, the U.S. Corps of Engineers was directed to complete an engineering survey of the Tennessee River to determine the feasibility of establishing complete river navigability. The resulting report recommended a series of nine main river dams and several tributary dams to allow for a minimum eight foot channel (standard for barge navigation) from Knoxville to Paducah.
Norris Dam impounds the Clinch River, a mountain tributary of the Tennessee River. The facility stands as a tribute and symbol of the birth of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). Given broad jurisdiction over resource development in the watershed (a 40,000-square-mile basin comprising parts of Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, and Tennessee), the TVA was formed to plan for flood control, improve navigation, and produce hydroelectric power.