Derek Watkins: Mapping Generic Terms for Streams in the United States

US Stream Names

Ever wonder why your favorite streams are named “run” and “branch” but your friends in other parts of the country talk about their “brooks”, “sloughs” and “forks”? Here is a cool map and blog post about the U.S. distribution of how these things commonly called streams are named.

This a very well done graphic.

Here in Virginia, runs and branches are common. In New England brooks are widespread, and where I grew up (New Jersey) that’s what we tended to call small streams, too.

Derek references a couple related blogs, including one that shows terms for UK streams (including terms heretofore unbeknownst to me such as “burn” and “afon”) as well as an exhibit of maps with smaller sets of data for common stream names on flickr, which makes comparing some of these terms a little easier.

All of these blogs illustrate really cool ways to use publicly available data sets — these all use data from the US Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) database.

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