About The Ocoee River
The Ocoee River is located in Polk County, Tennessee, and is surrounded by the Cherokee National Forest. Between 1910 and 1913, the Eastern Tennessee Power Company completed Ocoee Dams No. 1 and 2 creating sections of the Ocoee – Upper, Middle and Lower – separated by the dams. A wooden flume that diverts water from the Ocoee River at the dam takes the water into hydroelectric powerhouse to generate power to provide electricity for the region. TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) purchased the power system in 1939.
In 1976, the flume line broke. During the flume repairs, the river ran free and whitewater rafting on the Ocoee River was born!
“The river attracted lots of attention, as boaters flocked to the Middle Ocoee to run its five miles of continuous whitewater rapids. Rafting companies sprang up while the TVA hurried to repair the flume to again divert water from the Ocoee. After much resistance and a Congressional Act, TVA agreed to schedule [an initially negotiated] 116 days of recreational whitewater releases per year on the Middle Ocoee.
“Whitewater racing events have been held on the Ocoee since 1978, bringing the river to the attention of the world. The Ocoee has also been called the birthplace of freestyle kayaking, hosting the first-ever Ocoee Rodeo at Second Helping in 1983. The Ocoee has become one of the most popular whitewater rivers in the world, attracting over 250,000 visitors annually.” (americanwhitewater.org)
The Ocoee River was the site of the 1996 Olympic Canoe and Kayak Competition, serving that year as the only Olympic venue outside the state of Georgia. The Olympic Village, housing the whitewater athletes, was located at Lee University in nearby Cleveland, Tennessee. The Ocoee Whitewater Center and a beautiful suspension bridge are giant souvenirs from the Centennial Olympic Games. Since the world came to see us, hundreds of thousands of visitors have rafted the same rapids the Olympic athletes rode.
The Ocoee Outfitters Association invites you to ride these world class rapids. Let us take you on the adventure of a lifetime on the Ocoee River!