Cove Lake State Park was developed in the late 1930s as a third joint recreational demonstration effort by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), and the National Park Service. It was centered along an arm of Norris Lake created by the Caryville Dam, a subsidiary project to nearby Norris Dam finished in 1936. TVA officials built the dam in order to diminish the impact of the Norris reservoir on the town of Caryville. As it was, the TVA still condemned, demolished, or relocated more than seventy structures in the town, including the public school and the First Baptist Church, and rerouted Tennessee Highway 63 and U.S. Highway 25E.
CCC Company 4493 began work on the 667-acre park in the summer of 1937. It is credited with the construction of the park's initial infrastructure and facilities. These included water lines; a parking lot; roads; fencing; a boat dock; picnic tables and shelters; chipped stone curbs; water fountains; walls; sixteen stone cabins; a restaurant; and a stone park office. The park was deeded to the State of Tennessee in 1950. The state has since expanded and modernized facilities; only a few original CCC structures–stone walls, a powder house, the park office, and portions of the original restaurant–remain. Today, Cove Lake State Park boasts ninety-seven campsites, picnic areas, facilities for swimming and hiking, and playgrounds.
In creating the dam, lake, and park, TVA officials found that the park site contained evidence of Mississippian Period occupation by Native American groups from about 1000 to 1200 AD. University of Tennessee archaeologists excavated mounds and habitation sites in 1937. Remnants of one site are still visible at the park's Duck Island.
Carroll Van West, The New Deal Landscape of Tennessee (2001)