With the arrival of spring, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) will be opening visitor centers on Saturday, April 2, on the reservations of its tallest dam, its first dam and its longest dam.
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.; TVA’s first dam — Norris — completed in 1936 along with a planned community that became a national model, near Knoxville; and the longest in the TVA system — Kentucky Dam — which, at more than 8,800 feet and forms the largest reservoir, Kentucky Lake, in the eastern United States, stretching 184 miles.
Display panels near the power plants at Wilson Dam in Muscle Shoals, Ala., and Guntersville Dam on the south side of the dam, are accessible by the public year round. The visitor center at the Raccoon Mountain Pumped Storage Plant remains closed during maintenance at the generating plant, but volunteers will be available to answer questions at Laurel Point, a recreation area open year-around near the upper reservoir.
All facilities offer information about TVA history, how TVA operates its electric system and how TVA manages the Tennessee River and its tributaries. The centers have maps, videos, displays and written information about TVA and the construction of each particular site.
TVA retiree volunteers serve as guides to answer questions about TVA, the history of the facilities and the surrounding areas.
• Fontana Dam, located off N.C. Highway 28 near the Tennessee border, is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily through August and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. September and October.
• Norris Dam, located off Interstate 75, Exit 122 north of Knoxville, is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday through November.
• Raccoon Mountain/Laurel Point, located off Raccoon Mountain Road near U.S. Highway 64/72 west of Chattanooga, is open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily.
• Kentucky Dam, located off U.S. Highway 62 east coming from Paducah, Ky., or west from Clarksville, Tenn., operates 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., in April and November; and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., from May through October.
• Wilson Dam, located off Reservation Road in Muscle Shoals, is accessible year-around.
• Guntersville Dam, located off Snow Point Rd. (CR-50), is accessible yeararound.
• South Holston Dam, located on South View Dam Drive, Bristol, Tenn., is open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. April through October; and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. November through March.
• Fort Patrick Henry, located off Interstate 81, Exit 59, is open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. April through October; and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. November through March.
The centers close for major holidays and in times of severe weather. TVA’s website frequently posts closure information. The Tennessee Valley Authority is a corporate agency of the United States that provides electricity for business customers and local power distributors serving more than 9 million people in parts of seven southeastern states.
TVA receives no taxpayer funding, deriving virtually all of its revenues from sales of electricity. In addition to operating and investing its revenues in its electric system, TVA provides flood control, navigation and land management for the Tennessee River system and assists local power companies and state and local governments with economic development and job creation.