from Goodspeed's History of Tennessee (1887), page 50

Knox County is situated very near the center of the valley of East Tennessee. Its shape is very irregular, having no two sides parallel.  Beginning on the north and passing around it to the right it is bounded by the counties of Union, Grainger, Jefferson, Sevier, Blount, Loudon, Roane, and Anderson.   It contains an area of about 576 square miles.   The surface of the greater portion of the county consists of a series of parallel ridges and valleys extending from the northeast to the southwest

A County of Ridges, Valleys and Rivers:

Along the northwest boundary runs  Flint or Chestnut Ridge. It receives its former name from the character of the rock forming it, which is a kind of chert, resembling true flint.  The latter name is derived form the chestnut timber which abounds there.   

On the west side, in a divide of the ridge, lies a short section of a narrow valley known as Raccoon Valley.  

On the east side it slopes gradually into Bull Run Valley, which receives its name from Bull Run Creek, a tributary of the Clinch (River) which flows through it.  On the east side of this valley Copper Ridge rises somewhat abruptly, and beyond the ridge is Beaver Creek Valley, which is one of the richest in the country, and was one of the earliest settled.  It is divided throughout the middle by Beaver Creek.  Lying between Beaver and Black Oak Ridges is the section of a valley known as Hind's Valley, the lower half of which is watered by Hickory Creek, a tributary of the Clinch.  The soil of this valley is generally light and thin, but is well adapted to grass, and is capable of improvement.   The fertile section bounded by Black Oak and Webb's Ridges is known as Grassy Valley.  It, unlike the others, does not slope gradually from northeast to southwest, but is crossed transversely by small ridges and depression.  Black Oak Ridge constitutes the watershed between the waters of the Tennessee and the Clinch. 

 Poor Valley lies between Webb's Ridge and McAnnally's Ridge.  As its name indicates its soil is poor, consisting of the washings of the shale and dolomite, which make up the ridges.  The largest valley in the county is the Central or Knoxville Valley, otherwise known as Rocky Valley or New Market Valley, which constitutes the valley of the Tennessee River.  The soil is composed of shale, chart, limestone and dolomite, which have washed down from the surrounding ridges on a clay sub-soil, the whole of which is mixed with more or less iron which gives it a reddish color.  This constitutes the most fertile portion of the county, and is made up of excellent farming lands.  

A part of the county southeast of the French Broad and Tennessee Rivers constitutes what is known as the Knobby region, in which the parallelism incident to the other sections is broken up.  It consists of a vast group of red-topped  hills of remarkable uniformity of size and shape rising above the plane of the valley from 200-400 feet, and separated from each other by rough, irregular ravines.  The formation is described by State Geologist Safford as red ferruginous, sandy, fossilferous, limestone, interstratified with calcareous stratia of floggy limestone.  The soil of the valleys, which are very narrow, is exceedingly fertile, and produces good crops of corn, oats and wheat.  The creeks from this region on account of its peculiar configuration are small.  They are:

  •  Hind (Creek) and Mill Shoal (Creek)  emptying into the French Broad (River);  
  • Baker (Creek), Hodge (Creek) and Knob (Creek), tributaries of the Tennessee (River)
  •  Stock Creek flowing into Little River.


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