Kentucky River

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Template:River

The Kentucky River is a tributary of the Ohio River, approximately 259 mi (417 km) long, in the U.S. state of Kentucky. The river and its tributaries drain much of the central region of the state, with its upper course passing through the coal-mining regions of the Cumberland Mountains, and its lower course passing through the Bluegrass region in the north central part of the state. Its watershed encompasses about 7,000 sq. mi (18,000 km²). It supplies drinking water to approximately one-sixth of the population of the state.

The river is navigable along its entire length because of a series of 14 locks built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and now under the management of the state-run Kentucky River Authority. The primary importance of the locks today is to maintain a pool that allows the city of Lexington to draw its drinking water from the river. Despite the fact that the Lexington area receives well over 40 inches (1000 mm) of precipitation annually, the limestone, karst geology of that area means that surprisingly little natural surface water is found in the region.

Description

It is formed in central Kentucky at Beattyville, in Lee County, by the confluence of the North and South Forks at about 670 feet (204 m) elevation, and flows generally northwest, in a highly meandering course through the mountains, through the Daniel Boone National Forest, then past Irvine and Boonesborough, then southwest, passing south of Lexington, then north through Frankfort. It joins the Ohio at Carrollton.

Approximately 15 mi (24 km) southwest of Boonesborough it is joined by the Red River. Approximately 20 mi (32 km) southwest of Boonesborough it is joined by Silver Creek. At High Bridge, it is joined by the Dix River. At Frankfort, it is joined by Benson Creek. Approximately 10 mi (16 km) north of Frankfort, it is joined by Elkhorn Creek.

Between Clays Ferry in Madison County and Frankfort, the river passes through the Kentucky River Palisades, a series of dramatic steep gorges approximately 100 mi (160 km) in length.

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