Geography & Topography

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Rugged Dickenson County is situated on the Appalachian Plateau, bordering Kentucky on the crest of the Cumberland Mountains. Encompassing a land area of 335 square miles, Dickenson County lies wholly in the Big Sandy Basin. It is bordered on the Northwest by the State of Kentucky; on the Northeast by Buchanan County; on the Southeast by Russell County; and on the Southwest by Wise County.

Elevations in general vary from 1,200 feet above sea level along the Pound River to 3,137 feet at Jessee Gap on the Northwest border.  Because of this amazing terrain, the Breaks Interstate Park is known as the Grand Canyon on the South! It forms the deepest gorge in the United States east of the Mississippi River.

Pine Mountain is Dickenson County’s most prominent topographic feature.  This crest forms the border between Dickenson County and Kentucky. Two other important topographic ridges are Sandy Ridge and Big Ridge. Sandy Ridge parallels the Dickenson and Russell County boundary.

The principle streams of Dickenson County are the Pound River, Cranesnest River, Caney Creek, McClure River, Lick Creek, and Russell Fork. These are headwater streams and the area that is drained is not sufficiently large to provide other than moderate supplies of water.

Commercial forest land occupies 182,045 (86%) of the total land area of 212,077 acres. Ownership of the forest is mainly in the hands of private individuals and corporations. Approximately 167,718 acres (92%) is owned by non-industrial forest land owners.  Public ownership accounts for 14,279 acres (8%).

Natural Resources
The chief natural resource in Dickenson County is coal.  Dickenson County is the third leading coal producing county in Virginia, following Buchanan and Wise Counties.  Dickenson County is also the number one leading county in the state in the production of natural gas. The county had 964 wells that produced 15,641,817 cubic feet of natural gas in 2003 alone.

Exploring the county’s minerals further, there are also deposits of high grade silica sand in Dickenson County.  Soils within the county were derived mostly from sandstone and shale. Both of which occur in nearly all regions of the county.  Soil depths vary from two to three feet in residual soils to more than five feet in cultivated soils.  Soil acidity levels range from 4.5 to 6.5.  Natural fertility is low. Water holding capacity is moderate to low depending on the soil depth.

Temperatures average a moderate 37 degrees in January and 74 in July.  The frost-free growing season lasts for about 175 days, usually extending from April 25 to October 15. Annual precipitation averages 47 inches.

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