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Kentucky Color - Adair County's Largest Sinkhole

Permanent flowing springs in the sinkhole come together to form Sinking Branch, once an underground, then, downstream, an above ground stream near the rock quarry. Writer introduces most of us to geologic term, 'swallet,' the word for the lowest point in a sinkhole.
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The next earlier Kentucky Color: Beauty and The Beast

By Billy Joe Fudge, Retired District Forester
Kentucky Division of Forestry

When you turn onto Hwy 704 from South 55 you immediately descend into Adair County's largest sinkhole. As you travel from this point South on KY 704 you are traveling in this sinkhole and sinkhole plain until you reach Loy's Cemetery Road.


For those who aren't familiar with sinkholes, they can best be described as depressions that are completely landlocked with all the steams and rainwater drainage running or sinking underground.

The highlighted area on the accompanying map represents the area that would be best described as the collapsed area of the sinkhole and is about one and a half square miles.

This area has permanent-flowing springs which come together to form Sinking Branch. These springs and water courses were once underground and dissolved or eroded the surrounding limestone causing the collapse. Sinking Branch crosses under 704 near the rock quarry entrance on its way north and then west to the sinkhole swallet.

A swallet is the lowest point in a sinkhole. Swallets can be either open or closed. Several examples of both open swallet and closed swallet sinkholes can be seen in this area of KY 704 and South KY 55 and all around Columbia.

There are probably more than a hundred people who live inside this sinkhole and the surrounding sinkhole plain. A sinkhole plain would be the surrounding countryside above the "collapsed area" but still in the sinkhole watershed area. This sinkhole and sinkhole plain would probably be more than three square miles.

Also, the second largest Adair County Sinkhole is on the other side of town on North 61. Dixie Cash and Carry is setting in midst of that sinkhole and sinkhole plain.



This story was posted on 2011-01-02 04:47:52
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Map of huge sinkhole plains, Adair Co. KY



2011-01-02 - Photo submitted by Billy Joe Fudge.
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