5 Things You May Not Know About Rivers

You may know how rivers have been an important part of American history and how much they influence your daily life. But here are a few fun facts that you might not know:

1) Drink up!

Do you know where does your drinking water come from? Chances are, you’re sipping water from your local river or stream. Sixty five percent of drinking water comes from rivers and streams – all the more reason to protect and restore them.

2) Hungry?

Did you know many of America’s rivers have food-related names? There are two Apple rivers in the US – one in Wisconsin and one in Illinois –  the Banana River in Florida, the Blueberry River in Minnesota, the Cherry River in West Virginia, and the Cranberry River in Massachusetts. There’s the Artichoke River in Minnesota, the Fryingpan River in Colorado, and many rivers, like Washington’s White Salmon River are named after fish. Do you have a favorite food-related river name?

3) What’s more powerful than a giant earth mover?

Ever wonder why rivers get so muddy-looking during storms? Well, the faster water moves, the more easily it can pick up and carry things — dirt, boulders, cows, cars, propane tanks, you name it. This makes it possible for an innocent-looking stream to transform into the Hulk when it gets going fast enough. In fact, a river can transport more than half of all the sediment it moves in a year in one big storm.

4) Who owns America’s rivers?

You do! Rivers that are physically navigable by canoe, kayak, and raft are in the public domain, up to the high water mark. Access to the rivers may be over private land, so you have to find a public access point, but once you’re on that river you’re home free. So get out there Americans, and enjoy your rivers!

5) River Pirates?!

Think pirates only roamed the high seas? Think again. In late 18th-mid-19th century America, river pirates terrorized the Ohio River and Mississippi river valleys. They hid out in caves and swamps, robbed, captured and murdered river travelers, and sunk boats by drilling holes in their bottoms. Thankfully, our rivers today are much safer places for commerce, transportation, and recreation.

Do you have other fun facts you’d like to share? Tell us!