Health and History of the North Branch of the Potomac River
The western headwaters of the Potomac spring from the ground, near Kempton, WV at the Fairfax stone, 3125 feet above sea level (1). It is quiet at this site, breezy, a perfect spot for the earth to give birth to a new presence. This infant spring grows quickly larger and stronger as it is joined by many small and large streams from the highlands in both WV and MD. The North Branch travels 97 miles until it's confluence with the South Branch of the Potomac, forming the main stem of the Potomac River near Green Spring in Hampshire County WV (5). Traveling along the Eastern side of Backbone Mountain, the North Branch of the Potomac makes up the border between Maryland and West Virginia.
The North Branch lies just east of the Eastern Continental Divide, which is a geologic feature that separates major eastern watersheds. Waters that flow just west of the Continental Divide, including the Blackwater River, make their way into the Mississippi River, while water to the east, including the Potomac, flows to the Atlantic Ocean. This is an interesting geological feature to have so close to home, where half of our rainfall makes its way into the Atlantic
Ocean, and the other half flows to the Gulf of Mexico.
For more information, please read Health and History of the North Branch of the Potomac.
Click on the screenshot to the right to view it larger.