[Fig. 23(1)] One of the prominent physiographic features on the northeastern rim of the plateau is Elk Valley, a straight, narrow valley that was created by the same system that created the much larger Sequatchie Valley on the southern part of the plateau. The valley lies between Walden Ridge and Pine Mountain on the eastern edge of the Cumberland Block and extends from the community of Elk Gap on into Kentucky, for a distance of about 100 miles.
In earlier years the area around Jellico, a town at the northern end of the Tennessee portion of the valley, produced large amounts of high-grade bituminous coal. The coal was strip-mined until the resource was exhausted in the 1950s, leaving more than 200 acres of scarred land.
The Elk Valley was also another breach in the formidable eastern escarpment of the plateau, but it, like the one farther south near Rockwood, wasn't discovered until after Cumberland Gap became the mainstream route for settlers moving west into Kentucky and Tennessee.