New exhibit shares history of families displaced by Norris Dam

Local News

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Lenoir Museum is shining a spotlight on the nearly 2,900 East Tennessee families displaced by the construction of Norris Dam.

The museum worked with Tennessee Valley Authority and Norris Dam State Park to create an exhibit to tell the stories of those living in the Clinch River Valley prior to the completion of the facility in 1936. The monthlong exhibit will begin showing May 1 and features photography by Lewis W. Hine, who was hired by TVA to document the work.

“We recognize the tremendous sacrifices these families made,” TVA historian Pat Ezzell said. “At great personal loss to them, they left their homes and the land they loved for the greater good – to improve the quality of life in the region for all. Without their sacrifices, we would not enjoy the quality of life that we have today.”

Norris Dam was the first hydroelectric dam built by the federal utility as part of a Great Depression era project that brought electric power to the Tennessee Valley. Construction began Oct. 1, 1933, and the dam was opened March 4, 1936.

This exhibit hits home for the Lenoir Museum. It sits on the former farm property of the W.H. Longmire family, who were removed for the Norris Dam project. This showing is also the first of many new programs at the museum and state park focusing on sharing the history and culture of the Clinch River Valley and those that called it home.

The museum, at 2121 Norris Freeway, is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday and admission is free. For more information, contact the Lenoir Museum at 865-494-9688 or visit the Norris Dam State Park website.

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