The Ocoee River
The Ocoee River is nestled in southeast Tennessee in the heart of the southern Appalachias. Its headwaters stems from the Toccoa River which feed the Ocoee River and eventually flow into the Hiwassee River. The river flow is controlled by a series of three dams in which Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) manages. The top two dams are home to two of the best whitewater sections of river in the country. Each section is about a 5 mile stretch of river which has been commercially whitewater rafted dating back to the late 1970s. What really put the river on the map had to of been when it hosted the whitewater canoe and kayak slalom competition for the 1996 summer Olympic events.
Most often the ten mile stretch of Ocoee riverbed from Ocoee #3 dam to the Ocoee#2 powerhouse is nearly dry with a trickle of water working its way downstream. The water is being diverted through a system of flumes from the dams to the powerhouse stations downstream. From there TVA makes power which generates energy for many of us throughout the southeast.
During the weekends in the Spring and Fall and weekdays in the Summer, rafters from all over the southeast and United States flock to raft and cool off in the Ocoee River. Each outfitter purchases the water from TVA to release water into the riverbed rather than run the water through the flume system and down to generate power. Without the rafting participants, the riverbed would be a dry trickle and no recreational crafts would decorate the river in the Summertime.