Larry Patrick never imagined the Ramblin’ Raft Race would grow to such mammoth proportions.
As a student at Georgia Tech, he thought it would be fun to stage a competition on the ’Hooch. WQXI radio agreed to help promote the “First Annual Great Chattahoochee River Raft Race.” On July 26, 1969, Patrick and his crew won the thirty-four-mile inaugural event in about thirty hours.
For the second event, the Coca-Cola Company offered free soda at the finish and a raft load of Cokes for the winner of each race class: battleships, tugboats, and rubber rafts. Spectators lined the Powers Ferry Road Bridge to watch 1,066 rafts compete. That year, the race course measured ten miles from Morgan Falls Dam to Paces Ferry Road.
Cover Image: Participants of the Chattahoochee Raft Race have a blast on the river, 1971.
Credit: Kenan Research Center at Atlanta History Center
In the region that became Atlanta – part of the Muscogee Creek Confederacy—a significant Native American presence was the village called Pakanahuili (Creek meaning Standing Peach Tree), a trading center at the juncture of Peachtree Creek and the Chattahoochee River.