Google Earth Watershed Mapping  Project How-to

Welcome to the North Fork Watershed Project and our Google Earth Watershed Education Project.

Google Earth is a 3-D virtual globe that is completely free for you to download and explore!

If you are unfamiliar with Google Earth, you can download it here: .

Our Watershed Education Project lets you explore the North Fork of the Blackwater River and its history. The North Fork of the Blackwater River has been significantly impacted over the years by acid mine drainage (AMD) and poor land use practices. Within our mapping project, you can explore the watershed and see detailed information on water quality, locations and photos of historical buildings and sites associated with the early town of Thomas and its coal mining history, acid mine drainage discharge locations, abandoned mine lands, underground mine pools filled with acidic, heavy metal laden ground water, and more. We have also included a detailed map of the abandoned mine shafts located under the City of Thomas and the surrounding areas. The map is loaded with interesting information and photos, but don’t take our word for it, explore the map for yourself!

To view the North Fork Watershed Project, you will need to download the project KML(Google Earth File) to an easy to find location on your computer. If you already have Google Earth installed on your computer, you can simply double-click the file, and Google Earth will automatically open the Watershed Education Project. If for some reason this method does not work, simply open Google Earth, select the “File” menu in the upper left hand corner, and select “Open” from the drop down menu. A small window will open where you can select the Watershed Education Project KML.

Once the Watershed Mapping Project is open, you will notice an index for the project on the left side of the Google Earth screen under the “Places” box. Here you can select which layers of the project you would like to view by simply checking or un-checking the boxes beside each layer. There is a descriptive legend to help you navigate the map and inform you what each layer of data represents.  

To navigate around the map, there is a zoom in/out button in the upper right hand of the map.  There is also a compass button above the zoom that will change your view direction or the angle of your view. If you are having trouble navigating the map or downloading Google Earth, complete instructions can be found here.  You can also email with questions about our project.

We hope you enjoy navigating and exploring our Watershed Education Project! Thank you for your interest in the North Fork Watershed Project!

To view these directions in a more printer friendly Adobe Acrobat document please click here.

Still unsure? Click here for directions for viewing specific information.

Click here to view the file in Google Earth.

To view the file without downloading Google Earth please click here. (This version is not interactive.)

In addition to the North Fork of the Blackwater we have also mapped the North Branch of the Potomac. Please click here to download the .kml file for viewing that project.