Ocoee River History and Heritage

One River, Many Stories: Ocoee River History and Heritage

Through the waters of the Ocoee River runs the lifeblood of one of southeast Tennessee’s most valuable economic assets. From hydroelectric power generation to commercial rafting and recreation, the Ocoee River silently and selflessly serves our region in more ways than one. But what to do when multiple parties with an interest in the river’s management collide? Which has precedence? Who “owns” the water of the Ocoee? Government agencies, such as the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)? Commercial rafting outfitters? Or the people of the Ocoee Region and beyond?

On July 29, the Museum Center opened One River, Many Stories: Ocoee River History and Heritage, an exhibit focusing on the multi-faceted significance of the river to our region: from its earliest Native American usage, the construction of the first dams in 1910, and the advent of commercial rafting. Unlike most exhibits, which focus exclusively on the past, this exhibit will have an eye for the future—the current recreational use agreement between the outfitters and TVA is set to expire in 2019. Unless they reach another agreement, recreational use of the river will disappear and it will once again be used solely for power generation. One River, Many Stories places these issues in their appropriate economic, sociopolitical, and environmental contexts with the goal of helping viewers understand the myriad ways in which the Ocoee contributes to our region.

The exhibit opens to the public on July 29 and will be open through December 17, 2016.

One River, Many Stories is generously sponsored by First Tennessee Foundation.