Virginia's Rivers

1. Introduction
2. Chesapeake Bay
3. Systems
Physiography Topics
• Introduction to Physiography
• Coastal Plain
• Piedmont
• Mesozoic Basins
• Blue Ridge
• Valley and Ridge
• Appalachian Plateaus
• Virginia's Rivers

Virginia's Rivers (Part 8)

Tennessee River System

• The upper tributaries of the Tennessee River drain the far southwest tip of Virginia. Three main tributary rivers are found in Virginia: the Holston River (and its three forks, the North, the Middle, and the South Fork), the Clinch River, and the Powell River.

• As a group, they follow the trend of the valleys and ridges, flowing toward the southwest.

• The Holston System is the eastern-most of the three rivers. It contains several notable reservoirs, including South Holston Lake whose north end is in Virginia.

• The Clinch River reaches into Tazewell County where some of its upper branches drain water from the Appalachian Plateaus. The Powell River, in Lee County, is a major tributary of the Clinch that merges in Tennessee.

• The Tennessee River is one of the most important rivers of the southeast United States and is the largest tributary of the Ohio River.

• The Tennessee River takes a long, indirect route to the Ohio River. From eastern Tennesse, it travels southwest into Alabama, then takes a turn northward and re-enters Tennessee before it reaches the Ohio River in western Kentucky.

• The Tennessee is also noted for its large hydroelectric dams and reservoirs along its path.

Terrain map of the Valley and Ridge of far southwest Virginia. Note the strong linear northeast-southwest trend of the ridges and valleys. The Powell River is in the northwest corner of the map (it is crossed by U.S. 58). The Clinch River is in the southwest part of the map (Horton Ford Road follows it). The two rivers flow toward the southwest, following the direction of the ridges and valleys. (Map data by Google)

South Holston Lake, just south of Abingdon, Washington County (Map data by Google)

Location map shows sites along the three major rivers: the Powell (Lee Co.), the upper reaches of the Clinch where it drains part of the Appalachian Plateaus (Tazewell Co.), and the South Fork Holston River (Lake Holston)