Friday, July 19, 2013

The "Rivers of America" Map

Have you seen this map?  It shows the rivers and streams of America that end up flowing out of the Mississippi river into the Gulf of Mexico.


The map actually shows all of the rivers in the United States.  You can see it, and zoom in on specific areas, and track the course of a specific river, on the National Atlas website - see http://nationalatlas.gov/streamer/Streamer/streamer.html

On the National Atlas website, I zoomed into see the area around Cheyenne County, Kansas (the most northwest county in Kansas) because that is where my great-grandparents married in 1887.  Here is what I saw:


Up at the top of the map, there is a button on the menu line that says "Trace Downstream."  You can click on a point anywhere on a river and see the trace of that river downstream to where it ends up in the ocean.  Here is the trace for the Republican river which flows through Cheyenne County, Kansas:


By zooming in, I can see that the Republican River passes through McCook, Nebraska, Concordia, Kansas, and Clay Center, Kansas; all of those places are where the Devier Smith family resided during their lives.  The Republican eventually goes into the Missouri River at Kansas City, and the Missouri into the Mississippi River at St. Louis.

I wondered about the Colorado River - what is its' watershed area (what does it drain)?  Another button on the menu line at the top of the screen enables you to Trace Upstream."  I chose that, and clicked the cursor on the point where the Colorado enters the USA in Arizona, and saw:


I love maps!  This is one of the coolest maps I've seen.  As you can see, the different major river drainage systems in the USA are shown with green boundaries.

Why is this important to genealogists?  Because the rivers were one of the major means of transportation in the United States and colonial America before trains and automobiles and airplanes.  How did your ancestors travel to the places they resided?

The URL for this post is:  http://www.geneamusings.com/2013/07/the-rivers-of-america-map.html

Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver

7 comments:

Heather Kuhn Roelker said...

What a great find, Randy! I love maps, too, and this one is really interesting.

GeneGinny said...

Too cool!
Several years ago I found a reference to tangential ancestors of mine who left Knoxville, TN by riverboat on 3 April 1850, heading to the California gold fields.
Now I can finally see how hopping on a riverboat in Knoxville, TN can eventually get you to Independence to head out on the Oregon Trail.
Thank you for sharing this, Randy.

Christine Manczuk said...

Wow, love this!

Barbara in NC said...

Thanks for sharing this great find!

I found the "Trace Report" button lists (in the detailed report) all the names of the rivers/streams along the way, and also the counties through which it flows!

This will help me trace the route of my ancestors in 1866 from northwest N.C. to Ohio. They may have traveled on the New River.

Shelley Bishop said...

This is so cool, Randy! I can't wait to play around with it. Some of my ancestors lived on Mill Creek in the Shenandoah Valley, and I was thrilled to find it on the map. Thanks for telling us about this great resource.

Julene said...

Ran across this while search for a map of the Cheyenne County watershed. I grew up near the Sherman/Cheyenne Co line and also love maps. I write about that region. Have a new book coming out in March: www.julenebair.com. Would you mind sharing with me how you got the first image and the one of the Colorado River watershed, with the rivers in red? I went to the website you linked to and couldn't get that image to come up. Thank you! (You can reach me through the contact form at my website.)

Julene said...

Ran across this while search for a map of the Cheyenne County watershed. I grew up near the Sherman/Cheyenne Co line and also love maps. I write about that region. Have a new book coming out in March: www.julenebair.com. Would you mind sharing with me how you got the first image and the one of the Colorado River watershed, with the rivers in red? I went to the website you linked to and couldn't get that image to come up. Thank you! (You can reach me through the contact form at my website.)