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281 US Highway 64, Ocoee, Tennessee 37361

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Home / White Water Rafting Tips & Experiences Blog / Rafting on Ocoee River / ​​A Brief Ocoee TN History: The Importance of the River
Ocoee River

​​A Brief Ocoee TN History: The Importance of the River

Flowing through the mountains of Georgia and Tennessee, the Ocoee River is both a power source and a natural wonder for the cities along the banks. An outdoorsman’s dream, this river offers plenty of opportunities to enjoy a day on the water. Supplying tourists with watersports and locals with energy, this river is extremely important to the area. Here is a brief history of Ocoee TN and the river that runs through it:

Origins of Ocoee

passion flowerLong before European settlers arrived to the area, Native Americans used this river for the rich nutrients and natural resources that it supplied. The name “Ocoee” comes from the Cherokee word “Uwagohi”, referring to the perennial bloom of Passiflora incarnata (also known as the Wild Apricot or Passion Flower). We even named our outpost restaurant, The Apricot Place Cafe, after the Cherokees’ name for the Ocoee River Gorge. There are still lots of Cherokee influences throughout the banks of the river, including various towns named after Native traditions and sayings.

Ocoee River as an Energy Source

It wasn’t until the early 1900s that the Ocoee River was recognized as a power source for the surrounding area. Shortly after, the East Tennessee Power Company built the first major dam on the river, creating what is now referred to as Lake Ocoee. This first dam stood at 135 feet and created space for almost 2000 acres of reservoir water.

Two years later in 1913, East Tennessee Power Company built their second dam. While this dam wasn’t quite as large, it still stretched over 400 feet across the river. Each dam diverts power even to this day and both were purchased by the Tennessee Valley Authority in 1939.

River Rapids

quest raftingOne of the biggest draws to Ocoee TN is the unbeatable white water rapids that you’ll find along the river. The rapids are so good in fact, that the 1996 Olympic Summer Games hosted the whitewater events on the Ocoee. This 10-mile whitewater course is filled with big drops and large rapids that will satisfy any adrenaline junkie. As the river narrows, you’ll face the biggest rapid of them all, known as Humongous.

If you want to try this course for yourself, we offer the Olympic experience on our Full Day Ocoee River Whitewater Rafting Trip. Enjoy an exhilarating trip down the river, as well as a delicious riverside lunch when you raft with us!

Ocoee Today

Today, you’ll find the area around the Ocoee River booming with fun outdoor activities, in addition to cities and towns filled with endless entertainment. After you spend a day rafting the river, head to any of the nearby cities like Chattanooga and Cleveland and enjoy a day filled with shopping, dining and more. Whether you’re visiting in the on or off season for white water rafting, there is still plenty to do in Ocoee TN that you don’t want to miss.

Now that you know more about the history of Ocoee TN and the river that runs through it, you can have a better understanding of this historic area on your next visit. Looking for a place to stay? Check out the lodging we offer both on and off our property. We look forward to seeing you!