Monday, November 15, 2010
Look at a map of the United States. Between the Mississippi and California almost all of the states are bounded by straight lines and many are nearly perfect rectangles.
It might not have been so if the US government had heeded the suggestions of John Wesley Powell, who in 1890 produced this Map of the Arid Region of the United States, showing Drainage Districts. Powell argued for those districts to become the essential units of government, either as states or as watershed commonwealths.
Makes a lot of sense to me. Water management is still a hugely contentious issue in many of the arid regions out West. Why not organize around watersheds?
Thanks to Strange Maps for this fascinating look at how things might have been. Click here for a larger version of the map.