The Ocoee powerhouses, dams and flume line are part of an ambitious hydroelectric power project that began in 1910. Constructed by Eastern Tennessee Power Company, this series of historic hydroelectric structures are tucked into the narrow Ocoee River Gorge, all located within a stretch of only 12 miles.
Ocoee Dam Number One was built over the site of the old farming community of Parksville, with workers housed in what amounted to a small city. Upon its completion it was named Parksville Dam, and the new powerhouse dubbed Ocoee Powerhouse Number One. Locals referred to it as “The Big Concrete Dam,” a term that was common then but seldom used today. Ocoee Number One is the oldest dam in what is today the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) system. Construction of Ocoee Powerhouse Number Two, located just a few miles upriver from Powerhouse Number One, began in 1912. To provide adequate water volume to drive the turbines, a wooden flume line was constructed to carry the river waters to the powerhouse. A second dam was built upriver to hold the waters destined for the Flume. Officially named the Diversion Dam, old-timers still refer to it as “The Stick Dam.”
Image courtesy of Tennessee Overhill
The Ocoee Flume is a unique structure, the only one of its kind in the nation. Constructed of tongue-and-groove California longleaf pine, it resembles a wooden trough snaking along the rock bluffs that line the Ocoee River. Its purpose is to capture the Ocoee River as it pauses at the Diversion Dam, and then force the waters through the narrow flume to the powerhouse to turn the turbines. In 1939 Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) purchased the powerhouses, dams, and flume line. In 1941 TVA began construction of Powerhouse Number 3 to serve increased power demands during World War II. This written history is courtesy of the Tennessee Overhill Heritage Association. The structures are not open for tours but are easily seen from Hwy 64 (Ocoee Scenic Byway). When you board an Outland Expeditions, Inc. bus, be sure to look for the flume!
Book your trip here to see the flume on a trip down the Ocoee River!
Image courtesy of CTFP