Urban Fold

The United (Watershed) States of America

What if the great adventurer and geographer John Wesley Powell had his way: That as the western states were brought into the union their shape would be dictated by watershed rather than political boundary? This blog - and map - depict this scenario.

"This story begins with John Wesley Powell, the great one-armed adventurer and geologist. He was made famous for his successful runs through the Colorado River in 1869 and 1872. But perhaps his most important legacy rests in a lesser known deed: Proposing in 1879 that as the western states were brought into the union they be formed around watersheds, rather than arbitrary political boundaries," writes planner John Lavey.

"What if the western states were formed around watershed as Powell envisioned? What would that look like and could we speculate on what that might mean for the functioning of modern communities? And since we’re going down that road, what if all of the American states were based around principal watershed, from coast to coast – something even Powell didn’t consider?"

This piece, which originally appeared on the Community Builders network, examines the implications of such a scenario, and gives readers a view into what the "Watershed States" might look like via a map created by Lavey.

Full Story: The United (Watershed) States of America

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