The longest river wholly within Virginia is the James River, which flows into the head of Hampton Roads. The Appomattox and Chickahominy rivers are the principal tributaries of the James, which is navigable for deep-draft ships as far as the Fall Line at Richmond. The Potomac River, which forms all but the Eastern Shore boundary between Virginia and Maryland, is navigable as far upstream as Washington, D.C., and has the Shenandoah River as its major tributary in Virginia. The Rappahannock River is navigable by small craft as far upstream as the Fall Line at Fredericksburg.
All of Virginia’s major rivers, except the Roanoke, which crosses into North Carolina, widen out into broad tidal estuaries in their lower reaches. Other rivers of eastern Virginia include the York River, an estuary about 60 km (about 40 mi) long formed by the union of the Pamunkey and Mattaponi rivers, and the Blackwater and Nottoway rivers. In western Virginia are the New River, which joins the Kanawha in West Virginia; the Clinch, Powell, and Holston rivers, which are tributaries of the Tennessee; and the Levisa and Russell forks, which are tributaries of the Big Sandy River.
Lake Drummond, located in the heart of Great Dismal Swamp in southern Virginia, is the largest natural lake in the state. The unusual round shape of Lake Drummond presents a mystery. Some geologists believe it may have been formed by a meteorite or by a bog fire in the peat soils of the Dismal Swamp. The state’s biggest body of water is John H. Kerr Reservoir, on the Roanoke River.
Virginia’s coastline, for both the mainland and the Eastern Shore counties, is 180 km (112 mi) long. The state’s tidal shoreline measures 5,335 km (3,315 mi), including all bays, inlets, tidal estuaries, and other indentations. Major indentations include Chesapeake Bay; Hampton Roads, the excellent natural harbor on which are located Newport News, Norfolk, and Portsmouth; and the wide tidal estuaries of the lower Potomac, James, Rappahannock, and York rivers. Cape Henry, in the southeast, and Cape Charles, at the southern tip of the Eastern Shore, are the two most prominent capes. Long sandy beaches border the coast at Virginia Beach and along much of the Eastern Shore, but most other coastal areas have tidal marshes and swamps. "Virginia" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.
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