Discussion from McGrain and Currens (1978)

Estill County, in eastern Kentucky, is in parts of both the Outer Bluegrass and Eastern Kentucky Coal Field physiographic regions. Probably the most striking topographic feature in the county is the escarpment separating these two regions, a rise of 500 to 600 feet between the lowland and the highest mountains.

The Kentucky River crosses the county from southeast to northwest. The deeply entrenched, meandering valley is another conspicuous topographic feature. The river is 400 feet or more below the adjacent uplands where it enters the county, 600 feet or more below the adjacent uplands in the Irvine-Ravenna area, and 200 feet below the higher ridges where it crosses the Outer Bluegrass Region.

The highest elevations are found along ridges and isolated mountains near the edge of the escarpment in the western part of the county. The highest point is Zion Mountain, 1,511 feet, about 6 1/2 miles southwest of Irvine. Other high points include Happy Top Mountain, 1,500 feet; Preacher Estes Mountain, 1,475 feet; Peter Mountain, 1,454 feet; Low Knob, 1,450 feet; and Big Round Mountain, Buzzard Roost, and McKinney Mountain, each at 1,420 feet. The upland area is generally rugged. Vertical or nearly vertical cliffs commonly rim the narrow ridges and headwater gorges.

The lowest elevation, the Kentucky River at the mouth of the Red River, is 566 feet. Nearly flat ridgetops with elevations of 800 to 900 feet are common in the Outer Bluegrass Region. The valleys of the Kentucky River and its tributaries in the vicinity of Irvine and Ravenna are commonly broad and contain the largest tracts of flat land in the county.

Pea Ridge, north of Wisemantown, is the core of a large cutoff meander of the Kentucky River. Maximum elevation exceeds 840 feet, approximately 200 feet above the abandoned channel of the river.

The elevation of Irvine, the county seat, is 585 feet. Elevations of other communities are Ravenna, 643 feet; West Irvine, 690 feet; and Wisemantown, 661 feet.

The 7.5-minute topographic quadrangle maps that cover Estill County are shown, by name and by index code (Kentucky Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet) on the index map.

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