As a sign of spring, the Tennessee Valley Authority will be opening visitor centers on the reservations of its first dam, its tallest dam and its only pumped-storage hydroelectric facility on Friday.
This will be a seasonal opening for the centers at TVA’s tallest dam, Fontana, which towers 480 feet and forms part of the Appalachian Trail, near Bryson City, N.C.; and TVA’s first dam, Norris, completed in 1936 along with a planned community that became a national model, near Knoxville.
The third center is on Raccoon Mountain, TVA’s only pumped-storage plant, overlooking the Tennessee River Gorge near Chattanooga. Normally open year-round, the center has been closed since last April due to maintenance at the generating plant.
TVA’s fourth visitor center is located at Kentucky Dam and open 12 months of the year. Kentucky Dam is the longest dam in the TVA system at more than 8,800 feet and forms the largest reservoir in the eastern United States, stretching 184 miles.
All four centers offer information about TVA history, how TVA operates its electric system and how TVA manages the Tennessee River and its tributaries.
They have maps, videos, displays and written information about TVA and the construction of each particular site. TVA retirees serve as guides to answer questions about TVA, the history of the facilities and the surrounding areas.
Here are details for each of the centers:
- Fontana Dam, off N.C. Highway 28 near the Tennessee border, is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily through October.
- Norris Dam, off Interstate 75, Exit 122 north of Knoxville, is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 1-4 p.m. Sunday through November.
- Raccoon Mountain, located off Raccoon Mountain Road near U.S. Highway 64/72 west of Chattanooga, is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
- Kentucky Dam, off U.S. Highway 62 east coming from Paducah, Ky., or west from Clarksville, Tenn., operates 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. May through October; and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. November through April.
The centers close for major holidays and in times of severe weather.