Tracing the history of whitewater in Columbus - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

Our Town

Tracing the history of whitewater in Columbus

Posted: Updated:

   COLUMBUS, Ga.  John Turner has been immersed in the whitewater project over fifteen years.  Turner is an executive with the W.C. Bradley Company in Columbus and is the chairman of the River Restoration Committee.

   Turner is quick to deflect credit for the whitewater concept.  He says the original idea was brought up in the 70's by local outdoorsman Neal Wickham and his sidekick Joe Smith.  Turner says, "They were the first to really recognize that hidden behind these dams had to be some pretty powerful rapids."

   In the late 1990's Rick McLaughlin visited Columbus.  He was one of the designers of the Olympic whitewater course on the Ocoee River in Tennessee.  He and fellow designer John Anderson were impressed with what they saw here.

   Turner recalls they were standing on the Columbus Riverwalk overlooking the Chattahoochee River and turned to each other and said, "The Olympics should have been here."

   Turner says the duo recognized the whitewater potential locked behind the Eagle and Phenix and City Mills dams.  They also loved the fact that the river flows between two cities with all the amenities needed to host a world class event.  Adds Turner, "They were also the first to help us understand that these dams had really served their purpose."

   In light of what McLaughlin and Anderson had to say, Turner says, "As a community I'm not sure we ever really had a choice but to do this project."

   It's been just over a year since the Eagle and Phenix dam was breached, giving folks in our area their first glimpse of the whitewater to come.  The results have not been disappointing for Turner.  "Some of the experts have come and experienced these rapids since the dam was blown and have used words like...you can't go anywhere south of West Virginia and experience this kind of whitewater."

   The wave shaper that was embedded in the river to create a continuous wave has not been a disappointment either.  Turner says, "We felt like we wouldn't live up to the promise of the project if we didn't have one truly reliable and spectacular feature...the kind of place where you could host a world championship of kayaking."

   Folks with the whitewater project have wondered whether a surfer would be able to navigate the continuous wave.  Several weeks ago someone did just that! 

Phil Scoggins

After taking 16-year break from broadcasting, Phil rejoined WRBL as a news anchor where he has been ever since. More>>

  • Community NewsMore>>

  • WRBL's 'Our Town' Warm Springs newscasts moved to April 12

    WRBL's 'Our Town' Warm Springs newscasts moved to April 12

    Monday, November 18 2013 1:50 PM EST2013-11-18 18:50:08 GMT
    Photo By: Kevin Roble - News 3 Chief Photographer Photo By: Kevin Roble - News 3 Chief Photographer
    As part of WRBL's 60th Anniversary celebration, the station's "Our Town" tour will make a stop in historic Warm Springs, Georgia on Thursday, April 11th. The station will broadcast portions of "News 3
    Due to the threat of severe weather on Thursday, WRBL has made the decision to move the station's "Our Town" visit in historic Warm Springs, Georgia from Thursday, April 11th to Friday, April 12.
  • A Tour of Auburn with Mayor Bill Ham

    A Tour of Auburn with Mayor Bill Ham

    Tuesday, December 3 2013 4:26 PM EST2013-12-03 21:26:29 GMT
    Mayor Bill Ham is in his fourth term as mayor of Auburn. When he walks the city sidewalks, family memories come flooding back. His father ran Bill Ham Cleaners on Magnolia Street for 35 years. Standing in front of the old storefront, Ham told me, "At the Georgia game I still had people that would say to me, 'Man, I was in school and your dad helped me do this or that.' He was there long enough to touch a lot of generations." Ham has a lot to brag about when it comes to Auburn. It ranks as th...
    Mayor Bill Ham is in his fourth term as mayor of Auburn. When he walks the city sidewalks, family memories come flooding back. His father ran Bill Ham Cleaners on Magnolia Street for 35 years. Standing in front of the old storefront, Ham told me, "At the Georgia game I still had people that would say to me, 'Man, I was in school and your dad helped me do this or that.' He was there long enough to touch a lot of generations." Ham has a lot to brag about when it comes to Auburn. It ranks as th...
  • On-Demand: Our Town Auburn

    On-Demand: Our Town Auburn

    Tuesday, November 26 2013 7:00 PM EST2013-11-27 00:00:58 GMT
    Replay in its entirety WRBL News 3's "Our Town Auburn" from Tuesday, November 26, 2013.
    Replay in its entirety WRBL News 3's "Our Town Auburn" from Tuesday, November 26, 2013.
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Search continues in Columbus for LaGrange murder suspect

    Search continues in Columbus for LaGrange murder suspect

    Thursday, August 28 2014 6:54 PM EDT2014-08-28 22:54:35 GMT
    Devonte Thorpe is wanted for the murder of Dejerius Hardnett in LaGrange. He is beleived to now be in the Columbus area.Devonte Thorpe is wanted for the murder of Dejerius Hardnett in LaGrange. He is beleived to now be in the Columbus area.
    Authorities continue searching for Devonte Thorpe. He is wanted for a LaGrange murder and is now believed to the in the Columbus area.
    Authorities continue searching for Devonte Thorpe. He is wanted for a LaGrange murder and is now believed to the in the Columbus area.
  • Columbus gets new Walmarts...with a twist

    Columbus gets new Walmarts...with a twist

    Aug 25, 2014 07:03 PM2014-08-28 22:27:56 GMT
    Three new Walmart's are coming to town, and two of them are not your average Supercenter.Construction is about to be underway at the new Walmart Supercenter on Victory Drive at the site of the old Baker High School. Two new proposals, however, will bring the Walmart Neighborhood Market to Columbus.The Market is like a grocery store, without the clothes, hardware, etc. typical to most Walmart's.See the proposals at www.columbusga.org/planning. You can voice your opinion about the new stores be...
    Three new Walmart's are coming to town, and two of them are not your average Supercenter.Construction is about to be underway at the new Walmart Supercenter on Victory Drive at the site of the old Baker High School. Two new proposals, however, will bring the Walmart Neighborhood Market to Columbus.The Market is like a grocery store, without the clothes, hardware, etc. typical to most Walmart's.See the proposals at www.columbusga.org/planning. You can voice your opinion about the new stores be...
  • Meriwether County man murdered during apparent robbery

    Meriwether County man murdered during apparent robbery

    Monday, August 25 2014 4:41 PM EDT2014-08-25 20:41:56 GMT
    Two individuals believed to be connected with a Meriwether County murder were caught on surveillance camera in Newnan.Two individuals believed to be connected with a Meriwether County murder were caught on surveillance camera in Newnan.
    Local and state investigators release surveillance images of suspects believed to be connected with a Meriwether County murder investigation.
    Local and state investigators release surveillance images of suspects believed to be connected with a Meriwether County murder investigation.
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Statesboro Police looking for aggravated battery suspect

    Statesboro Police looking for aggravated battery suspect

    Thursday, August 28 2014 3:58 PM EDT2014-08-28 19:58:36 GMT
    Grant James SpencerGrant James Spencer
    Statesboro Police are searching for a suspect in the assault of a teen who was found unconscious outside a bar early Thursday morning. Authorities say they responded to Rude Rudy's just after midnight to find 18-year-old Michael Gatto non-responsive and with head injuries. Gatto was taken to East Georgia Regional Medical Center then flown to Memorial Medical Center where he remains in critical condition. Officer spoke to witnesses on the scene and issued an arrest warrant for 20-year-old Gran...
    Statesboro Police are searching for a suspect in the assault of a teen who was found unconscious outside a bar early Thursday morning. Authorities say they responded to Rude Rudy's just after midnight to find 18-year-old Michael Gatto non-responsive and with head injuries. Gatto was taken to East Georgia Regional Medical Center then flown to Memorial Medical Center where he remains in critical condition. Officer spoke to witnesses on the scene and issued an arrest warrant for 20-year-old Gran...
  • MUGS: 15 Children Removed From Woodruff Home, Adults Arrested

    MUGS: 15 Children Removed From Woodruff Home, Adults Arrested

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 6:16 PM EDT2014-08-27 22:16:58 GMT

    Investigators say they found the trailer surrounded by piles of clothes and trash, a swimming pool with green water, animal feces and roaches on the floor of the home and unsecured guns and medicine bottles.

    Investigators say they found the trailer surrounded by piles of clothes and trash, a swimming pool with green water, animal feces and roaches on the floor of the home and unsecured guns and medicine bottles.

  • 'Magic Mike,' Sequel to be Filmed in Savannah

    'Magic Mike,' Sequel to be Filmed in Savannah

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 12:52 PM EDT2014-08-27 16:52:15 GMT
    The Savannah Film Office says the sequel to the movie Magic Mike is scheduled to be filmed in the Savannah area beginning in September.
    The Savannah Film Office says the sequel to the movie Magic Mike is scheduled to be filmed in the Savannah area beginning in September.
Powered by WorldNow

1430 East Victory Drive
Savannah, GA 31404

Telephone: 912.651.0300
Fax: 912.651.0320
Email: newsemailalert@wsav.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.