Powell River (Tennessee River)

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Powell River
Powell River Tennessee.jpg
Origin Wise County, Virginia
Mouth Clinch River
Basin countries United States
Length 187 mi (301 km)
Mouth elevation 1,020 ft (311 m) [1]
The Powell drainage basin, located within the upper Tennessee drainage basin

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. (This point is where USGS maps cease counting the mileage from the river mouth although the stream is listed on said maps as the Powell River from the point where it rises.) From Kent Junction the river flows 187 miles (301 km) and drains approximately 938 square miles (2,429 km2) in both Virginia and Tennessee before reaching its confluence with the Clinch River in the Norris Lake reservoir at the site of the now-submerged town of Grantsboro.

Along with the Clinch River, the Powell contains the only undammed and free flowing headwater basins of the major Upper Tennessee River system.[2]

Powell River was named for a man called Powell who apparently carved his name into many of the trees of the area while accompanying the exploration party of Dr. Thomas Walker in the mid-18th century. His name appeared so frequently on trees in the valley of this river that later explorers and early pioneers came to call the stream "Powell's River" and the valley "Powell's Valley".[3]

The Powell River was designated by the EPA as the “second most biologically diverse aquatic system in the nation.”[citation needed] The Powell is under pressure from the effects of mining (including strip mining), logging and associated road-building.

Lincoln Memorial University operates the Powell River Aquatic Research Station, which is located where Tennessee State Route 63 crosses the river at the Brooks Bridge in Claiborne County, Tennessee. The center, which opened in April 2008, allows for on-site research of water quality, flora, fauna and related habitat.[4]


See also[edit]

Coordinates: 36°29′59″N 83°40′38″W / 36.4996°N 83.6772°W / 36.4996; -83.6772