Rolling Fork (Kentucky)
The Rolling Fork is a 108-mile-long (174 km) river in central Kentucky. The river flows through Marion and Hardin counties, as well as being the border between LaRue and Nelson counties. The Rolling Fork drains much of the land in these counties, and is a key part of life in this area of the Knob Region. The Rolling Fork is a part of the Salt River Basin, and the larger Ohio River Basin.
The Rolling Fork begins in southern Boyle County. It winds through the county, gradually increasing in size. After passing through Marion County, the Rolling Fork moves to be the border of LaRue County and Nelson County, starting near the High View area. The river snakes along Nelson and LaRue Counties, making a u-shaped bend along the Knobs. The rivers goes on and gains size when the Beech Fork joins it near Youngers Creek, a community in Hardin County that borders Nelson County. Eventually, the Rolling Fork joins the Salt River at the Hardin County - Bullitt County line. The Salt River empties into the Ohio River about 9 miles (14 km) later, at West Point, Kentucky.
The Rolling Fork winds through the Knobs of the region. These knobs shape the river and add to it the various "hallows" and bends that characterize the terrain. The river lies in beautiful valleys, and sets alongside many rich river bottoms. These bottoms provide excellent growing opportunities for grain farms, and surrounding pasture for cattle. The river valley is somewhat prone to flooding. Major flooding occurred most recently on the week after May 1, 2010. This flooding deeply impacted the communities, spilling water in New Haven, Howardstown and elsewhere. The raging waters scoured river bottoms and deposited brush and gravel there. In New Haven, the flood waters damaged the Kentucky Railway Museum.
The Rolling Fork and its valleys are home to a wonderful wildlife variety. There is a healthy population of white-tailed deer, squirrels, opossums, beavers, skunks, and rabbits. Birds such as the great blue heron and kingfisher call the river valley home. Canada geese and sandhill cranes also pass through on migrating patterns. The waters of the river host catfish, some bluegill and sunfish, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, and even gar. Also residing in the area are a variety of turtles, snakes - some rattlesnakes - and skinks and salamanders.
The Rolling Fork is an essential part of the communities on or by it. The river valleys provide crop ground for farming operations and help provide in the local economy. The river is used for fishing, and the area around it is hunted for recreation.
Communities on the Rolling Fork
- Calvary, Kentucky (in Marion County)
- High View, Kentucky (Marion County)
- Gleanings, Kentucky (LaRue County)
- Howardstown, Kentucky (Nelson County)
- New Haven, Kentucky (Nelson County)
- Boston, Kentucky (Nelson County)
- Lebanon Junction, Kentucky (Bullitt County)
- Lyon Station, Kentucky (LaRue County)
- Youngers Creek, Kentucky (Hardin County)
- Bradfordsville, Kentucky (Marion County)
- Forkland, Kentucky (Boyle County)
- U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Rolling Fork, per 1961 Board on Geographic Names decision
- U.S. Geological Survey. National Hydrography Dataset high-resolution flowline data. The National Map, accessed May 13, 2011
- K R M suffered serious damage from heavy rain on May 1 and 2. Water was over 3 ft in the Model Train center / crew room area. Multiple washouts on the main line totaled over 2,000 feet (610 m).