Cumberland Mountains

Cumberland Mountains

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The Cumberland Mountains are a mountain range in the southeastern section of the Appalachian Mountains
Appalachian Mountains
The Appalachian Mountains #Whether the stressed vowel is or ,#Whether the "ch" is pronounced as a fricative or an affricate , and#Whether the final vowel is the monophthong or the diphthong .), often called the Appalachians, are a system of mountains in eastern North America. The Appalachians...

. They are located in southern West Virginia
West Virginia
West Virginia is a state in the Appalachian and Southeastern regions of the United States, bordered by Virginia to the southeast, Kentucky to the southwest, Ohio to the northwest, Pennsylvania to the northeast and Maryland to the east...

, western Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

, eastern edges of Kentucky
The Commonwealth of Kentucky is a state located in the East Central United States of America. As classified by the United States Census Bureau, Kentucky is a Southern state, more specifically in the East South Central region. Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth...

, and eastern middle Tennessee
Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,346,105, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers , making it the 36th-largest by total land area...

, including the Crab Orchard Mountains
Crab Orchard Mountains
The Crab Orchard Mountains are a rugged, detached range of the southern Cumberland Mountains. They are situated in East Tennessee atop the Cumberland Plateau just west of the plateau's eastern escarpment, and comprise parts of Morgan, Anderson, and Cumberland counties. The Crab Orchard Mountains...

. Their highest peak, with an elevation of 4,145 feet (1,263 m) above mean sea level, is Black Mountain
Black Mountain (Kentucky)
Black Mountain is the highest natural point in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, USA, with a summit elevation of above mean sea level and a top to bottom height of over . The summit is located at in Harlan County, Kentucky near the Virginia border, just above the towns of Lynch, Kentucky and...

, which is located near Lynch
Lynch, Kentucky
There were 408 households out of which 24.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.7% were married couples living together, 16.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.5% were non-families. 36.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 20.1% had someone...

 in Harlan County, Kentucky
Harlan County, Kentucky
Harlan County is a county located in the U.S. state of Kentucky. It was formed in 1819. As of 2000, the population was 33,200. Its county seat is Harlan...


According to the USGS, the Cumberland Mountain range is 131 miles (210.8 km) long and 20 miles (32.2 km) wide, bounded by the Russell Fork on the northeast, the Pound River
Pound River
Category: Rivers of Virginia Running through Part of Wise County Virginia, and through Dickenson County Virginia, The Pound River is a tributary of the Russell Fork in the U.S. state of Virginia. Via the Russell Fork, the Levisa Fork, the Big Sandy River, and the Ohio River, it is part of the...

 and Powell River
Powell River (Virginia)
The Powell River in the United States rises in southwest Virginia and flows into East Tennessee.The river rises in rural Wise County, Virginia near the Laurel Grove community northwest of Norton and flows for several miles before the confluence with Roaring Fork in the Kent Junction community...

 on the southeast, Cove Creek on the southwest, and Tackett Creek, the Cumberland River
Cumberland River
The Cumberland River is a waterway in the Southern United States. It is long. It starts in Harlan County in far southeastern Kentucky between Pine and Cumberland mountains, flows through southern Kentucky, crosses into northern Tennessee, and then curves back up into western Kentucky before...

, Poor Fork Cumberland River, and Elkhorn Creek
Elkhorn Creek
Elkhorn Creek is an stream running through several counties in central Kentucky in the United States. It derives its name from the shape, as seen on a map, of its main stem with its two primary forks....

 on the northwest. The crest of the range forms the Kentucky and Virginia boundary from the Tennessee border to Russell Fork River.

Variant names of the Cumberland Mountains include Cumberland Mountain, Cumberland Range, Ouasioto Mountains, Ouasiota Mountains, Laurel Mountain, and Pine Mountain.

Geology and physiography

The Cumberland Mountains are a physiographic section
Physiographic regions of the world
The physiographic regions of the world are a means of defining the Earth's landforms into distinct regions based upon classic 1916 three-tiered approach defining divisions, provinces, and sections...

 of the larger Appalachian Plateau
Appalachian Plateau
The Appalachian Plateau is the western part of the Appalachian mountains, stretching from New York and Alabama. The plateau is a second level United States physiographic region....

 province, which in turn is part of the larger Appalachian
Appalachian Mountains
The Appalachian Mountains #Whether the stressed vowel is or ,#Whether the "ch" is pronounced as a fricative or an affricate , and#Whether the final vowel is the monophthong or the diphthong .), often called the Appalachians, are a system of mountains in eastern North America. The Appalachians...

 physiographic division.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Oak Ridge National Laboratory is a multiprogram science and technology national laboratory managed for the United States Department of Energy by UT-Battelle. ORNL is the DOE's largest science and energy laboratory. ORNL is located in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, near Knoxville...

 (Oak Ridge, Tennessee
Oak Ridge, Tennessee
Oak Ridge is a city in Anderson and Roane counties in the eastern part of the U.S. state of Tennessee, about west of Knoxville. Oak Ridge's population was 27,387 at the 2000 census...

) is involved with the conservation of the mixed mesophytic forests within the Northern Cumberland Plateau. The conservation organizations include The Nature Conservancy
The Nature Conservancy
The Nature Conservancy is a US charitable environmental organization that works to preserve the plants, animals, and natural communities that represent the diversity of life on Earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive....

, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and the Natural Resources Defense Council with focus on the Cumberland Plateau.

Further reading

  • Caudill, Harry M.
    Harry M. Caudill
    Harry M. Caudill was an American author, historian, lawyer, legislator, and environmentalist from Letcher County, in the coalfields of southeastern Kentucky.-Biography:...

    , Night Comes to the Cumberlands
    Night Comes to the Cumberlands
    Night Comes to the Cumberlands is a book by Harry Caudill that brought attention to poverty in Appalachia and is credited with making the Appalachian area a focus of the United State government's "War on Poverty"...

    (1963). ISBN 0-316-13212-8