There are some things about surface waters that are always true:
- They only flows downhill. Gravity decides the course.
- They cut through soft rock faster than harder rock.
- They carry with them what they flow through: soil, sand, pig poop, road salt
- They will eventually find the ocean (or impounded, find the clouds again).
But beyond that, the nation’s creeks and streams and rivers have their own unique story, told by the history of the continental masses underneath them that, along with climate, determine what forest or prairie or boulder field or swamp their course includes.
We tend to take our water for granted–even the small portion visible above ground. Many could not name the creeks and rivers into which our downspouts pour today’s rainshower, or where those confluent waters enter an ocean.
Ways of “seeing” water on which we depend may help some (I know it helps me) better appreciate the bigger picture of the water we use here in our house every day.
Ways of seeing water courses also serve the historian of travel and early migration east to west, where mountains–and rivers–determined so much of the character of the journey, and even where those travelers eventually settled. Water was a way to town; a way to power grindstones; a way to eat and trap and trade.
And with that rambling preamble, let me suggest (and hope someone resonates) that you click to open the map, then find the stream nearest you on the USGS Streamer.
You can choose to follow it UPstream or DOWNstream by clicking the appropriate setting, then your stream of choice. Make sure your kids get a chance to “play” with this one.
BTW, click on any other stream in Floyd County to show “downstream” and it will show the Little to the New to the Kanawha to the Ohio to the Mississippi to the Gulf. A whole ‘nuther watershed, just 2 miles west of us.
And another wonderful piece of Earth Through Different Eyes.