In the article she talked about the bare hills of the West as compared with the treed mountains in this area. She related asking someone in Cleveland where our power originated. The person pointed to the mountains and told her they were the source. She made a profound statement somewhat like this: “People who know the source of their power are strong.”
That statement has proven to be true. The strength of Bradley County and Cleveland has brought the area through a century of growth.
The Ocoee River project dates back 100 years to the pioneering days of electric power production in the Tennessee Valley. Two hydroelectric projects were built by a private power company: Ocoees No. 1 and No. 2. The Tennessee Valley Authority acquired them in 1939, and during World War II, TVA added a third dam. The Ocoee dams are named for the river, a Cherokee name meaning “Apricot Vine Place.”
Municipally owned power distributed by the TVA set the stage for industrial development in Bradley County during the 1940s, and was a major factor in moving the area away from the era of the Great Depression into prosperity.
Electricity also changed the rural areas — homes, schools and farms. Besides offering a source of power, TVA also created jobs as well as having an impact on conservation issues.
The building of Ocoee No. 1 created the 1,890-acre Parksville Lake, which offers recreation as well as a scenic park area accessible to Cleveland and Bradley County, in addition to providing power.
The dams constantly produce more than 67,000 kilowatts of electricity for the people in the surrounding region. They are located on the lower Ocoee River, east of Cleveland, in the Cherokee National Forest. With the dam construction, the Ocoee project gained control of portions of the river and harnessed its power for electricity production.
The Ocoee River is still one of the Southeast’s premiere whitewater rivers. Attracting rafting enthusiasts from all over the world, it was the site of the 1996 Olympics — an event that also made an impact on Cleveland.
Lee University with its Olympic Village was host to participants in the Olympics whitewater events and many residents of Bradley County opened their homes to the visitors.
TVA, one of the America’s largest producers of electric power, is a federal corporation which was established by Congress in 1933 and supplies electricity to an area including Tennessee, parts of Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Kentucky, North Carolina and Virginia. It manages the Tennessee River, the nation’s fifth-largest, providing flood control, navigation and water quality.
TVA power is used by more than 7 million people from the more than 100 municipal systems and 50 rural cooperatives. In addition, TVA supplies power directly to several industries with large power requirements. The three Ocoee dams together use an ingeniously engineered system to boost the river’s power.