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Old 01-31-2006   #1
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River Nomenclature

If two tributaries of a major river join together before reaching the master river,what do you name the segment from thier confluence to the master stream?Does it take the name of the bigger creek or the one that is higher in the watershed,or the one that is longest?What if they carry aproxamately{sp} the same volume,are about the same length,the one higher in the water shed calls itself Rio and the lower one a creek ,but the creek seems slightly bigger?F'ing confusing ,trying to write up an account of a 1st D, don't know if the creeks name changes after a confluence or is still considered the same river.Any expert "Nomenclaturers" out there?

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Old 01-31-2006   #2
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I think the name is just whatever it has been named. The longer stem of the river is considered the main branch (my source is Fradkin, 'A River No More'). In fact, he discusses this in terms of the true headwaters of the Colorado River - the Green or the Colorado. Some Colorado politicians got together and re-named the Grand, the Colorado, through an act of Congress and declared RMNP the headwaters in glossy brochures. So there ya go, pick your name and lobby your congressman.

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Old 01-31-2006   #3
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I wanted to mention that in New Mexico many of the rivers are traditionally named by previous generations of inhabitants (indigenous - not sure). However, the rivers have different names above and below the confluences. At a confluence the river may not be named either of the rivers above the confluence, but another name completely unrelated. That sounds really confusing, but maybe Atom could clarify?
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Old 01-31-2006   #4
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If you have the first D, and there isn't a clear name on the map, then you get to name it, right? That's what Louis and Clark or John Wesley Powell would have done, right?
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Old 01-31-2006   #5
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No hard and fast rule. The White Nile is longer and considered the source. But the Blue Nile is 90% of the volume. Fall River becomes Clear creek. You ran it you name it till some pencil pusher in a Bureau tels us otherwise. sj
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Old 01-31-2006   #6
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The Taylor River and the East River join at Almont to become the Gunnison. Certainly, the mightly Gunnison doesn't start at Almont. But, I guess the Taylor and the East have about the same volume, so which is the real Gunnison?
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Old 02-01-2006   #7
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A rose by any other name....

In the beginning, the Colorado River began near Moab, Utah, at the confluence of the Green River, which flowed south out of Wyoming, and the Grand River, which flowed southwest out of Colorado. Below that point, the river took on the reddish tinge that earned it the name Colorado, or red-colored.

In a survey of the region published in 1916, hydrologist E.C. LaRue said that because the Green drained a larger area than the Grand, it should be considered the upper Colorado. Most hydrologists say that's correct.

Utah lawmakers tried to make it official in 1921 with a measure that would have changed the name of the Green to the Colorado, which would have put the start of the Colorado in Wyoming.

But the bill failed and Utah never got a chance to take its case to Congress. Instead, Colorado Rep. Edward Taylor, who had campaigned for years to rename the Grand, decided enough was enough.

The Colorado River, he said, should begin in Colorado. The Colorado Legislature passed just such a bill. According to historians at the Colorado River Water Conservation District, supporters rallied to persuade Congress and President Harding to back the proposal, and on July 25, 1921, the Grand River became the Colorado River.
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Old 02-01-2006   #8
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Thanks for the responses,that sort of clears it up,there is no rule etched in stone. I think KSC'S; longest stem is main river ;best serves my purposes.
What JC said about the system of naming rivers in N.Mex. is even more true of Mexico, sometimes the name changes to the name of a town it passes through,and to further complicate things there are multiple rivers of the same name in the same state!
I thought of that Fall River -Clear Creek example,it's kind of a fluke.Does that creek ever have enough water?I think there is a road along it,I heard Clear Creek drainage is at 170%.
Taylor and East is an example of two MAIN stems having given names rather than directional designations eg. N.Branch or W.Fork,,but yeah names can change as whoever sees fit to name em' whatever,maybe I am still confused.

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