All the major rivers of Tennessee lie within the vast Mississippi river system. The principal rivers are the Mississippi River, along the state’s western border, and the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers. The Tennessee River is formed just east of Knoxville by the junction of the Holston and French Broad rivers. Flowing southwestward, it leaves the state at Chattanooga, curves through northern Alabama, and then flows northward across Tennessee to join the Ohio River in Kentucky. Its major tributaries in Tennessee include the Little Tennessee, Clinch, Big Sandy, Hiwassee, Elk, and Duck rivers.
The Cumberland River, also a tributary of the Ohio, rises in Kentucky and meanders through northern Tennessee before reentering Kentucky to join the Ohio. Its principal tributaries in Tennessee are the Stone, Harpeth, Caney Fork, and Obey rivers. In western Tennessee several rivers flow directly into the Mississippi.
The largest natural lake is Reelfoot Lake, formed by the New Madrid earthquakes in 1811 and 1812. However, the largest bodies of water are reservoirs that lie behind dams on the Tennessee and Cumberland river systems. "Tennessee" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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