The West Virginia. Cyclopedia

Cumberland Mountains

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The Cumberlands are mapped in orange in this representation
Guyandotte Mountain
Cumberlands west of New River Gorge

The Cumberland Mountains, or The Cumberlands of southern West Virginia and eastern Kentucky, are part of the Appalachian Mountains of the eastern U.S. In West Virginia, they are located in a narrowing band that passes northeastward through parts of Raleigh County, Fayette County, Wyoming County, Logan County, McDowell County, Kanawha County, and Nicholas County.

The rugged terrain of the Cumberland Mountain region is strongly associated with coal mining: since the late 1800s many coal mines have operated among its hollows. The range is now among the chief regions being surface-mined in the Appalachia. Areas as large as cities have been flattened as a result of this controversial mining method in which valleys are being filled with the ridges.

The Cumberland Mountain region is not always classified as a distinct mountain region in West Virginia, but as part of the Allegheny Plateau region. The terrain of the Cumberlands in the Mountain State is, however, distinguished by its dramatic relief. Its highest peaks reach more than 3,000-feet-above-sea-level -- climbing as much as 2,000 feet above the narrow bottoms of valleys below. The range spans some 60 miles along State Line Ridge on the Virginia border with West Virginia. It narrows to the northeast to a width of approximately 10 miles; where its peaks rise high above the confluence of New and Gauley rivers to form the Kanawha River.

Principal ridges of the Cumberland Mountain range in southern West Virginia include Cotton Hill, Packs Mountain, Haystack Mountain, Huff Mountain, Blair Mountain, Paint Creek Mountain, Kayford Mountain, Armstrong Mountain, Buffalo Mountain, Guyandotte Mountain, Coal River Mountain, and Gauley Mountain.