Dynamic Rivers Cause Map Changes

Dynamic Rivers Cause Map Changes

Posted by Tom Nagel, GIS Specialist on 7th Aug 2017

Maps are dynamic not just because of changes in landownership, but also, at times, because of physical changes to the land itself.

Rivers were the early highways of our country. Elevated banks adjacent to the river were often the focus of settlements. These river towns could be thriving hubs of commerce. However, rivers were fickle and dynamic. Their channels roamed back and forth across the flood plain over time. As the channel shifted, so too could the fortunes of the river town as it was literally left high and dry. One such town, Weston, Missouri between St. Joseph and Kansas City, today is one and one-quarter miles from the river (though thriving as a tourist destination from the Kansas City and St. Joseph areas). Arrow Rock, Missouri, upstream from Columbia, is ½ mile from the river (it too thrives as a tourist destination to explore the state’s early history at Arrow Rock State Historic Site).

River channel changes can be sudden. Rosecrans Airport near St. Joseph, Missouri was established in 1939. It was directly connected to the city as the Missouri River looped around it to the west. A major flood in 1952 scoured a new river channel that cut the airport off. Though still part of Missouri, Rosecrans Airport today can only be reached from St. Joseph by going through Kansas via Highway 36.

by Tom Nagel, GIS Specialist, Mapping Solutions