Schematic of rivers

Inspired by this discussion I tried to bang out a quick map of just the biggest rivers in the US in schematic form. My idea was to sort them all by length and draw them side by side, like this awesome 19th century visualization, but without straightening them first. I counted up which gnis_ids in NHDPlus had the most rows (as a proxy for river size), then made a special vector map source with just those rivers.

select geometry, name, strahler, huc8 from merged_rivers where gnis_id in (  354236, 591690, 465582, 1034981, 78762, 517018, 42838, 1384150, 517033, 400069, 201759, 1091369,  425264,  485443, 1035255,  835960, 1428399, 1101881,   78956, 1385432,  837263, 1533479, 1629903,   45730,  756398)

Sadly the resulting image (attached here) doesn’t really work. Some things are screwed up, like the Platte River in Nebraska which just kind of ends. Also you run into the question of defining what a river is; why do we call the Missouri a separate river as opposed to folding it into the MIssissippi? I could show every single watershed that has a unique drainage to the oceans, but then that’s a fanned out watershed map instead of a nice linear river map. Needs more thinking.

Screen Shot 2013-11-21 at 3.14.05 PM