The Tennessee River 600, which began in 1997 as a pleasure event for personal watercraft (PWC) enthusiasts, has now evolved into an annual event with participants representing as many as 19 states. The participants raise money benefiting two children’s hospitals and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA). Funds raised from participants and sponsors are divided equally among The Children’s Hospital, Birmingham, AL; and Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. We are proud to have raised a total of $219,958 for these wonderful organizations. The Children’s Hospital, Birmingham, AL is a member of the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, an alliance of premier hospitals for children and one of the world’s leading children’s charities working to save and improve the lives of millions of children. The TWRA is an organization dedicated to the preservation, conservation, and enhancement of Tennessee’s outdoors, including fostering the safe use of the state’s waters. The event is also designed to promote Tennessee tourism and water safety, as well as to portray PWC’s in a positive light, and is the longest running organized event in the United States for personal watercraft.
The 18th Annual Tennessee River 600 will begin with check-in at the Marriott Hotel in Knoxville on Saturday, July 26, 2014. The trip will end at Paris Landing State Park in West Tennessee on Saturday, August 2, 2014. Participants pay a $300 registration fee per PWC with one rider. Additional riders (“doubling up”) pay a $100 fee. Although some meals are provided, participants are responsible for their own food, lodging, and fuel. Participants may arrange their own vehicle and trailer transportation from Knoxville to Paris Landing, or elect to have the Tennessee River 600 crew handle their transportation. If you’re pressed for time, you may participate for one day of your choice for $100, which is refundable by raising $500 in donations.
Families and support crew travel by land and meet riders at the overnight stops. Events are planned for participants at each stop, and sightseeing is a priority. In the past, the event has been fortunate to have doctors, emergency medical technicians (EMT’s), mechanics, and other professionals riding the river to assist with any health issues or watercraft failures. Past participants have included a dog riding with his master, an 82-year-old man from Alabama, and a 4-year-old boy accompanied by his dad.
In 2002, University of Tennessee Head Football Coach Phillip Fulmer was the event’s Grand Marshal and rode several miles with the participants. In 2003, the Tennessee River 600 was recognized by the Tennessee State House of Representatives, with House Joint Resolution No. 661, honoring and commending the participants and supporters for their commitment to a worthy cause. In 2004, the Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, The Honorable Susan Whitaker, served as Grand Marshal. Ms. Whitaker spoke at the Welcome Dinner and presented a personal letter of recognition and appreciation from Tennessee’s Governor Phil Bredesen to Event Director Dennis Beckley for his many years of leadership to the Tennessee River 600. In 2005, Col. Lynns Pitts with the Tennessee Highway Patrol served as Grand Marshal.
Participants lock through eight TVA dams during the week-long journey. Support services are provided by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Tennessee Valley Authority, Tennessee State Parks, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers. All of these agencies help make this a safe and fun trip for everyone.
Below is a map of the Tennessee River including ports, locks, and dams.