Remember this map of all the waterways in the U.S. from earlier this summer? Now there's something even more fun: An interactive app that lets you not only see the waterways, but trace them to their source (or to their end, if it suits you better).
Streamer, a visualization from the National Atlas, shows almost all the streams in the U.S., or at least the ones large enough to see at a one to 1 million scale, meaning each inch of map corresponds to about 15.8 miles of land.
It gives you a look at how far water travels from some sources, and how short a distance another nearby waterway might stretch. There's something especially satisfying about clicking a stream that dumps into a million different veins of water, or shoots its way across multiple states to empty into the ocean. Case in point: Hitting the coronary artery of American waterways, the Mississippi River, illuminates connections over the entirety of the middle of the country:
Or here's a zoom-in of a more localized upstream search from my hometown in dry Southern California:
There's an option to toggle between a satellite map and white terrain map as your base, over which the blue lines of creeks and rivers are drawn. The terrain map is brighter so a bit easier to read, but the satellite option gives you a better sense of the divides between desert, mountains and forests.
It's a little bit wonky (sometimes you have to hit "clear map" before clicking from one stream to another, for example, and it's super intuitive to navigate. Green lines delineate between regions--the Upper Mississippi, the Texas Gulf, etc.--which isn't always easy to tell from a zoomed-in perspective. You have to zoom into select waterways, though, and I spent a lot of time mindlessly clicking until it grabbed ahold of something to trace.
Still. Waterways! They connect us all. Play with it here.