Cumberland, river, 687 mi (1,106 km) long, rising in E Ky., and winding generally SW through Ky. and Tenn., then NW to the Ohio River near Paducah, Ky.; drains c.18,500 sq mi (47,910 sq km). The development of lakes and canals make the river navigable for small craft for much of its length. The river's upper course flows through the rugged, forested coal-mining region of SE Kentucky. The central section of the river passes through the Nashville Basin, an agricultural region and the site of Nashville, Tenn. The Tennessee Valley Authority markets hydroelectric power produced by dams on the Cumberland and its tributaries, including Dale Hollow, Center Hill, and Barkley dams, as well as Wolf Creek Dam, Ky., which impounds Lake Cumberland. The Cumberland valley was the scene of several important Civil War battles (see Fort Donelson).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2023, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: U.S. Physical Geography