“In the Beginning… …Ocoee River 1977”
An original 8mm movie shot by Gary Harper in 1977
From 1914 until Autumn of 1976, the Middle Ocoee River was a dry river bed for over 95% of each year because the water was diverted into a wooden Flume Line to generate electricity.
By 1976 the Flume Line was so old and dilapidated it was condemned and TVA had to close it. However, TVA had the full intention of rebuilding the Flume Line within the next 5 years and returning the Ocoee River to a dry riverbed permanently.
After TVA was forced to return the water to the riverbed in October of “76” it created almost 5 miles of world class whitewater. That next Summer of 1977 saw hundreds of kayakers, canoeists and rafters enjoying the Ocoee.
Gary Harper along with three partners started the first Outfitting Business to open a shop on the Middle Ocoee. That Summer of “77” Gary filmed an 8mm movie of the goings on there.
Then in 2018 he decided to have his footage converted to digital format and placed onto DVD with some background music and some text screens explaining the River’s history along with Gary & Beth Harper’s history there.
In the Beginning… Ocoee River 1977… is a fun and informative DVD that looks at early whitewater rafting, kayaking, and open boating on the middle Ocoee River in southeast Tennessee in the year 1977. It also describes how many of the rapids got their name. Filmed and edited by Gary Harper.
Copyright 2018 – All Rights Reserved
Gary’s influence on the Ocoee is known by many. Check out this Blog by David Brown detailing economic growth of the Ocoee.
You can also find David’s book, Whitewater Wars Book here on our website. “The Whitewater Wars book is an an entertaining and at times funny story about the twists and turns in the battle with two federal agencies to save the Ocoee and Gauley Rivers. These were not conventional environmental battles. Living close to the edge at times with relatively little money, rafting and kayaking pioneers in river shorts and sandals were seemingly no match against powerful federal agencies. They were grossly underestimated. “