GEOLOGICAL SURVEY OF KENTUCKY.
N. S. SHALER, DIRECTOR.
NOLIN RIVER DISTRICT,
BY WILLIAM BYRD PAGE.
PART V. VOIL. 11. SECOND SERIES.
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Professor N. S. SHALER, Director Kentucky Geo/ogzia/ Survey.
SIR: I herewith submit the following report upon the topog-
raphy of the Nolin River district:
In accordance with your instructions of June 3d, 1874,
designating for field work the country from Green river north
towards the Ohio, and the object the delineation of the east-
ern outcrop of the western coal field, field work was com-
menced on the ioth of June, 1874, and continued without
intermission until the 24th of December of the same year.
In connection with this work, a meridian line was established
at Brownsville; stones were placed in the line, and the decli-
nation of the magnetic needle determined. A map showing
this line, and the position of the stones, was placed on record
at the court-house at Brownsville.
A map of an Indian fort near Honaker's Ferry, on Green
river, was also made.
The map of the Nolin River district was drawn upon a scale
of six inches to the mile, to be kept as a record, and reduced
for publication to one inch to the mile.
In the field work, material aid was rendered by Messrs. C.
W. Beckham and J. B. Marcou, to whom an acknowledgment
is due for their energy and interest during the prosecution of
Upon leaving the field, the office work was commenced and
-ontinued until the map was prepared for publication.
WM. BYRD PAGE.
TOPOGRAPHICAL REPORT OF THE NOLIN RIVER
The topographical survey of this section extends northward
from Green river to the Louisville, Paducah and Southwestern
Railroad, and from Bear Creek, on the west, eastward to the
Mammoth Cave, including the lower portion of Green river.
The extent of area mapped is about three hundred square
miles. This area includes portions of Edmonson, Grayson,
and Hart counties, and the county towns of Brownsville and
Leitchfield. The Mammoth Cave and Grayson Springs and
its railroad station are also shown.
THE METHOD OF THE SURVEY.
The following is an outline of the method pursued in map-
ping this section: The road from Brownsville to Grayson
Springs Station was selected as a base line. This road was
surveyed with transit and chain, and over the transit line a
profile of the road was made with a water level. This line
served as a base for the compass work, and, as far as possible,
the surveys were closed to it. The profile enabled the barom-
etric work to be checked. Barometric observations were made
upon all the compass lines, and from these observations con-
tour lines were shown upon the map.
The drainage of this section is entirely to Green river, and
in a southward direction, making this area a portion of the
northern water-shed of the river.
The principal channels of drainage are Nolin river and Bear
The surface rock, the character of which determines the
shape and relative positions of the contours, is, over much of
NOLIN RIVER DISTRICT.
the surface, sandstone. This is shown in the table-land struc-
ture of the area in the western portion mapped. The lime-
stone structure, which is flatter and of more irregular form, is
confined chiefly to the eastern portion of the district, and to
the valleys or bottom lands of the rivers and creeks. Where
the shales come to the surface there are characteristic knobs.
The thickness of the sandstone gives an additional variety to
the features of the country. The height of the table-land will
average about 350 feet, and will vary from 250 feet to 500
feet, the general level rising toward the east. The more im-
portant portions of the country will be described in detail.
The head branches of Bear Creek drain the country south-
ward from the railroad, from east of Grayson Springs Station
to west of Leitchfield. About four miles from the road, these
streams meet at a level about 200 feet below the road.
Lizard Lick Branch, heading at the Springs Station, emp-
ties into Bear Creek at Grayson Springs. Here the level of
the creek is 1 75 feet below the railroad.
These branches have no precipitous cliffs or falls, but regu-
lar and gradual slopes, mostly covered, and, as they approach
Bear Creek, widen into flat bottom lands. From Grayson
Springs the general course of Bear Creek is south south-
west, and its length, to the mouth, is 41 miles. It is tortuous
in its entire length. In air-line, the distance is 22 miles from
the Springs to the mouth of Bear Creek. The total fall of
the creek in this length is 130 feet. The table-land ridges
between Bear Creek and Nolin river and its branches may be
considered as spurs of the ridge upon which the Louisville
and Paducah road, near the Springs Station, is built. These
ridges extend to Green river. At the railroad the ridge is
about 325 feet in height above Green river. Where first
shown on the map, it is crossed by the road from Grayson
Springs to Morrison's Ford, on Rock Creek. Its extreme
height at this road is 350 feet. One mile south it is crossed
by another road from Grayson Springs to Rock Creek. Here
' Vertical measurements are given in feet above low water of Green river, which datum
436 feet above the level of the sea.
VOL IL-13 193
TOPOGRAPHICAL REPORT OF THE
the streams of Bear and Rock Creeks head close to each
other, and cut down the ridge to a height of 300 feet, One
mile further, at the junction of the Grayson Springs, Mam
moth Cave, and Brownsville roads, the ridge attains a height
of 340 feet, and is divided by Canoloway Creek. This creek
is about six miles in length; its slopes are gradual and mostly
well covered. The branches from the southwest show ex-
posed cliffs. The total fall of this creek, from its head to
Nolin river, where it empties, is 310 feet.
The spur of the ridge, upon which is the Mammoth Cave
road, preserves its height evenly for some miles. The creeks,
as they drain either side of the table-land ridge, show, by their
precipitous drop of about 6oQ feet, the character and thickness
of the surface rocks. Three miles from Nolin river the ridge
is cut down, and the branches on either side head to the
saddle. The ridge to the river gains its original height only
The spur of the ridge, upon which is the Bee Spring and
Brownsville road, extends in a southerly direction towards
Green river. Its height varies considerably, although the
same character of table-land exists. Five miles from Gray-
son Springs, where the Leitchfield road is, the ridge attains
its greatest height of 400 feet. Just to the east of this point
is a knob about 40 feet higher than the road. From this point
to Bee Spring, a distance along the ridge of 1o miles, the
height varies from 390 to 270 feet. From Bee Spring the
ridge rises to 370 feet, at the Little Mountain road, 3 miles
south of the spring.
From here to the southward, although the surface is without
apparent change, the creeks indicate, in many points, remark-
able alterations. Pigeon, Pine, and Indian Creeks, draining
into Nolin and Green rivers on the east, and Beaver Dam and
Gulf Creeks of Bear Creek on the west, after a short, gradual,
covered slope, break over the heavy conglomerate sandstone
in perpendicular cliffs. These cliffs vary in height from 60
and 70 to over loo feet. From the bottoms of the creeks
they rise almost vertically on either side. Here is seen the
NOLIN RIVER DISTRICT.
Rock-House structure, where the lower portion of the sand-
stone has receded and the upper part makes a roof, giving
good shelter and room. The rock-houses vary much in size;
the dimensions of one measured were ioo by 40 by 6o feet.
East of Rock Creek appears the first general erosion of the
sandstone, the sandstone table-land structure being replaced
by the flat but irregular limestone type of topography. The
ridge between Rock Creek and Nolin river has been protect-
ed, and remains capped with sandstone. This ridge attains
a height, in places, of nearly 500 feet. The lowest gap in the
ridge is between Hunting Fork of Rock Creek and Laurel
Run of Nolin river. Its height is 300 feet. The ridge
towards Rock Creek will average in height from 350 to 400
feet. This ridge does not extend further north than Sinking
Creek. This creek is so named because it has no outlet
above ground. The bed of the stream has no continuous
slope towards the mouth, but a rise of 20 or 30 feet in one or
more places. To the northward of Sinking Creek the area
remains flat. The country between Nolin and Green rivers
presents several curious features of topography. The struc-
ture is of the sandstone type and partly of the thickened con-
glomerate sandstone variety.
The streams head to a common point, which is about 480
feet high. The descent to the bottoms of the creek is very
precipitous, and from the bottoms the cliffs extend along almost
the entire length of the creeks as vertical walls.
To the valley of Bylew Creek there are said to be only
three approaches. In the valley the arable land is of some
extent. The heights of the vertical cliffs were measured in
several places, and are given below. Bylew and Piney
Creeks cut through the thickest of the sandstone, and the
cliffs in these creeks are almost unbroken in their wall-like
appearance. In some places the cliffs will measure i8o feet.
Buzzard's Roost, on White Oak Fork of Dog Creek, is a pic-
turesque overhanging cliff of i6o feet in height. This pecu-
liar structure is confined to the following creeks: First Creek
and Gulf on the south, Pigeon, the mouth of Dismal, Piney,
TOPOGRAPHICAL REPORT OF THE
and the western branches of Dog Creek on the north, the
western branches of Dog and Buffalo Creeks on the east, and
on the west extending to Gulf and Beaver Dam Creeks. The
heights of the cliffs were measured in a few places on Green
and Nolin rivers. At the mouth o