Potomac River

The Potomac River (/pəˈtmək/ (listen)) is found within the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States and flows from the Potomac Highlands into the Chesapeake Bay. The river (main stem and North Branch) is approximately 405 miles (652 km) long,[4] with a drainage area of about 14,700 square miles (38,000 km2).[5] In terms of area, this makes the Potomac River the fourth largest river along the East Coast of the United States and the 21st largest in the United States. Over 5 million people live within the Potomac watershed.

Potomac River
The Potomac River watershed covers the District of Columbia and parts of four states
Native namePatawomeck  (Algonquian languages)
Location
CountryUnited States
StateWest Virginia, Maryland, Virginia, District of Columbia
CitiesCumberland, MD, Harpers Ferry, WV, Washington, D.C., Alexandria, VA
Physical characteristics
SourceNorth Branch
  locationFairfax Stone, Preston County, West Virginia
  coordinates39°11′43″N 79°29′28″W
  elevation3,060 ft (930 m)
2nd sourceSouth Branch
  locationNear Monterey, Highland County, Virginia
  coordinates38°25′30″N 79°36′30″W
Source confluence 
  locationGreen Spring, West Virginia
  coordinates39°31′42″N 78°35′16″W
MouthChesapeake Bay
  location
St. Mary's County, Maryland/Northumberland County, Virginia, United States
  coordinates
37°59′54″N 76°20′02″W
  elevation
0 ft (0 m)
Length405 mi (652 km)
Basin size14,700 sq mi (38,000 km2)
Discharge 
  locationLittle Falls, near Washington, D.C. (non-tidal; water years: 1931–2018)[2]
  average11,498 cu ft/s (325.6 m3/s) (1931–2018)
  minimum4,017 cu ft/s (113.7 m3/s) (2002)
  maximum23,760 cu ft/s (673 m3/s) (1996)
Discharge 
  locationPoint of Rocks, Maryland
  average9,504 cu ft/s (269.1 m3/s)
Discharge 
  locationHancock, Maryland
  average4,168 cu ft/s (118.0 m3/s)
Discharge 
  locationPaw Paw, West Virginia
  average3,376 cu ft/s (95.6 m3/s)
Basin features
Tributaries 
  leftConococheague Creek, Antietam Creek, Monocacy River, Rock Creek, Anacostia River
  rightCacapon River, Shenandoah River, Goose Creek, Occoquan River, Wicomico River
WaterfallsGreat Falls, Little Falls
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Note: Since 1996, the Potomac has been the 'sister river' of the Ara River of Tokyo, Japan[3]

The river forms part of the borders between Maryland and Washington, D.C., on the left descending bank and West Virginia and Virginia on the river's right descending bank. The majority of the lower Potomac River is part of Maryland. Exceptions include a small tidal portion within the District of Columbia and the border with Virginia being delineated from "point to point" (thus various bays and shoreline indentations lie in Virginia). Except for a small portion of its headwaters in West Virginia, the North Branch Potomac River is considered part of Maryland to the low-water mark on the opposite bank. The South Branch Potomac River lies completely within the state of West Virginia except for its headwaters, which lie in Virginia.


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