Kelly Alley

Welcome to the first installment of travel-themed columns this summer.

Over the course of the next few months, I am going to try my hand at giving rip-roaring bi-weekly accounts of any tucked away small towns or interesting adventures I happen to find myself in.

So sit down, buckle up and enjoy the scenic route. There may be a few bumps and hairpin curves taken at high speeds — I’ll try not to make you too car sick.

It’s probably best to start local and work my way out, so that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I’m going to give you a small glimpse of a small town.

Norris, Tennessee is what some folks might call a “quaint little town.” With only one grocery store and one true filling station, it certainly fits the Mayberry-esque postcard picture of a close-knit community.

“The City of Norris has been called a planned community, a model town, a garden city and even a utopia. To its citizens, however, it is a woodland home, an oasis in the busy world of the surrounding Knoxville, Oak Ridge and Clinton communities.” At least, that’s what the town’s website says.

Built for workers during the construction of the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Norris Dam in 1933, the small "Greenbelt Town" gained its township status in 1949. Now most folks who live there commute into Oak Ridge or Knoxville for jobs instead of working on the dam.

Now, I grew up not far from Norris, but never really gave the town much thought. That is, until I recently sort of “rediscovered” the little community and all its charms. An idyllic Tennessee hills community with a virtually non-existent crime rate, it’s pretty darn near perfect. I reckon if they ever decided to add a riding stable somewhere near town, it would be the very definition of a utopia. After all, they’ve got plenty of riding and hiking trails nearby.

Probably the biggest building in town is the middle school, an older structure that wouldn’t look out of place in a 1950's period movie. The grocery store, Archer’s, is the kind of small-town store you would expect it to be – a little cramped, but stocked with just about everything you need. It’s almost a glorified convenience store, but with far more charm.

On a Sunday morning, the place becomes a quiet haven for the wildlife – the only mechanical thing you could hear was the shutter on my film camera.

I regret that I only have black and white film prints of the town to show, but in a way I reckon it’s more fitting. The pictures look nearly timeless, echoing the same cozy feeling the town gives off as you drive around the area.

If you’re ever up near Norris Dam, make the short trip over to Norris. Even if there’s not much to do, it’s worth the trip for the quietness alone.

Kelly Alley is a junior studying Journalism and Electronic Media. She can be reached at

Columns and letters of The Daily Beacon are the views of the individual and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Beacon or the Beacon's editorial staff.

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