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A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at the end of its course without reaching another body of water. Small rivers can be referred to using names such as stream, creek, brook, rivulet, and rill. There are no official definitions for the generic term river as applied to geographic features, although in some countries or communities a stream is defined by its size. Many names for small rivers are specific to geographic location; examples are "run" in some parts of the United States, "burn" in Scotland and northeast England, and "beck" in northern England. Sometimes a river is defined as being larger than a creek, but not always: the language is vague.

Rivers are part of the hydrological cycle. Water generally collects in a river from precipitation through a drainage basin from surface runoff and other sources such as groundwater recharge, springs, and the release of stored water in natural ice and snowpacks (e.g., from glaciers).

Rivers and streams are often considered major features within a landscape, however, they actually only cover around 0.1% of the land on Earth. They are made more obvious and significant to humans by the fact that many human cities and civilizations are built around the freshwater supplied by rivers and streams. Most of the major cities of the world are situated on the banks of rivers, as they are, or were, used as a source of water, for obtaining food, for transport, as borders, as a defensive measure, as a source of hydropower to drive machinery, for bathing, and as a means of disposing of waste.

Potamology is the scientific study of rivers, while limnology is the study of inland waters in general.

River Media

10,230 media by topicpage 1 of 103
Artwork: "T.S.C. Lowe's Ballon Tethered at 1,000 Feet Above the York River in 1862". Artist: John McCoy

Artwork: "T.S.C. Lowe's Ballon Tethered at 1,000 Feet Above the York R...

The original finding aid described this photograph as: Country: Unknown Scene Camera Operator: Unknown Release Status: Released to Public Combined Military Service Digital Photographic Files

Drawing Showing the Proposed Lighthouse at the Mouth of the Mississippi River, Louisiana

Drawing Showing the Proposed Lighthouse at the Mouth of the Mississipp...

Records Relating to the Lighthouse at the Mississippi River, Louisiana

Plat of the Blackstone River

Plat of the Blackstone River

This plat created by surveyor Thomas Mann depicts a section of the Blackstone River in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, and the surrounding properties, buildings, mills, roads, a flume, a bridge, a dam, and other physi... More

Lighthouse Little River -- Maine

Lighthouse Little River -- Maine

Caption: Little River Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Little River

Lighthouse Little River -- Maine

Lighthouse Little River -- Maine

Caption: Little River Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Little River

Lighthouse Little River -- Maine

Lighthouse Little River -- Maine

Caption: Little River Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Little River

Lighthouse Little River -- Maine

Lighthouse Little River -- Maine

Caption: Little River Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Little River

Lighthouse Little River -- Maine

Lighthouse Little River -- Maine

Caption: Little River Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Little River

Photograph of Detroit River Light Station
Lighthouse Little River -- Maine

Lighthouse Little River -- Maine

Caption: Little River Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Little River

Lighthouse Little River -- Maine

Lighthouse Little River -- Maine

Caption: Little River Light Station, Maine. Date: 1892 District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Little River

Lighthouse Little River -- Maine

Lighthouse Little River -- Maine

Caption: Little River Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Little River

Lighthouse Little River -- Maine

Lighthouse Little River -- Maine

Caption: Little River Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Little River

Lighthouse Little River -- Maine

Lighthouse Little River -- Maine

Caption: Little River Light Station, Maine. Date: 1892 District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Little River

Lighthouse Little River -- Maine

Lighthouse Little River -- Maine

Caption: Little River Light Station, Maine. Date: 1892 District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Little River

Lighthouse Little River -- Maine

Lighthouse Little River -- Maine

Caption: Little River Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Little River

Lighthouse Little River -- Maine

Lighthouse Little River -- Maine

Caption: Little River Harbor District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Little River

Lighthouse Little River -- Maine

Lighthouse Little River -- Maine

Caption: Little River Light Station, Maine. Date: August 30, 1892 District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Little River

Lighthouse Little River -- Maine

Lighthouse Little River -- Maine

Caption: Little River Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Little River

Lighthouse Little River -- Maine

Lighthouse Little River -- Maine

Caption: Little River Light Station, Maine. Date: September 1, 1892 District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Little River

Lighthouse Little River -- Maine

Lighthouse Little River -- Maine

Caption: Little River Light Station, Maine. Date: 1892 District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Little River

Lighthouse Little River -- Maine

Lighthouse Little River -- Maine

Caption: Little River Light Station, Maine. Date: September 1, 1892 District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Little River

Lighthouse Little River -- Maine

Lighthouse Little River -- Maine

Caption: Little River Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Little River

Lighthouse Little River -- Maine

Lighthouse Little River -- Maine

Caption: Little River Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Little River

Lighthouse Little River -- Maine

Lighthouse Little River -- Maine

Caption: Little River Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Little River

Lighthouse Little River -- Maine

Lighthouse Little River -- Maine

Caption: Little River Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Little River

Lighthouse Little River -- Maine

Lighthouse Little River -- Maine

Caption: Little River Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Little River

Lighthouse Little River -- Maine

Lighthouse Little River -- Maine

Caption: Little River Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Little River

Lighthouse Little River -- Maine

Lighthouse Little River -- Maine

Caption: Little River Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Little River

Lighthouse Little River -- Maine

Lighthouse Little River -- Maine

Caption: Little River Light Station, Maine. Date: 1892 District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Little River

Lighthouse Little River -- Maine

Lighthouse Little River -- Maine

Caption: Little River Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Little River

Lighthouse Little River -- Maine

Lighthouse Little River -- Maine

Caption: Little River Light Station, Maine. District: 1 State: ME Maine -- Little River

H. B. Co. Fort Langley, left bank of Fraser River. Langley Buttes in the distance

H. B. Co. Fort Langley, left bank of Fraser River. Langley Buttes in t...

Landscape Views of the Area Along the Northwest Boundary

Kootenay River. Junction with Elk River. View from trail on right bank

Kootenay River. Junction with Elk River. View from trail on right bank

Landscape Views of the Area Along the Northwest Boundary

"Wind Mountain" Columbia River (above Cascades) looking up

"Wind Mountain" Columbia River (above Cascades) looking up

Landscape Views of the Area Along the Northwest Boundary

Plante's Crossing--Spokane River and Plains--trail runs N. N. E

Plante's Crossing--Spokane River and Plains--trail runs N. N. E

Landscape Views of the Area Along the Northwest Boundary

Topographical Sketch of the Battle Field of Stones River near Murfreesboro, Tennessee, December 30th, 1862, to January 3d, 1863. Major General W. S. Rosecrans Commanding the Forces of the United States, General Braxton Bragg Commanding the Forces of the Enemy. Sheet No. II. Position of the U.S. Troops on the 31st of December 1862. Surveyed under the Direction of Capt. N. Michler, Corps of Topographical Engrs., U.S.A., by Major J. E. Weyss.
North Side of Arkansas River opposite Little Rock

North Side of Arkansas River opposite Little Rock

"Fortifications Map File" Plans of Military Forts

Topographical Sketch of the Battle Field of Stone [sic] River by Capt. Francis Mohrhardt, Top. Eng. of Gen. Sheridan's Div.
...The Second Epoch of the Atlanta Campaign Embracing the region from Resaca to the Etowah River...
[Map of Mobile Bay showing defense works, soundings, and obstructions, with scattered notes about armament of defense works and navigability of the bay and the Tensas River.]

[Map of Mobile Bay showing defense works, soundings, and obstructions,...

"Fortifications Map File" Plans of Military Forts

Map of Red River and the Country South [and east of Alexandria]. Surveyed under the direction of Capt. E. Gottheil, Chief Engineer, Dist. Wesn. La., Head Quarters, Engineer Department, Dist. Western Louisiana.
Topographical copy of a Map of the Valley of the Shenandoah River From Strasburg, [Va.], to Harper's Ferry. [W.] Va., with the adjacent counties west of it and south of the Potomac River

Topographical copy of a Map of the Valley of the Shenandoah River From...

Topographical copy of a Map of the Valley of the Shenandoah River From Strasburg, [Va.], to Harper's Ferry. [W.] Va., with the adjacent counties west of it and south of the Potomac River, Captured in the rebel ... More

Map Illustrating The First Epoch of the Atlanta Campaign Embracing the region from the Tennessee River to the Oostanaula River, showing the positions held and lines of works erected by the enemy, also the lines of works erected by the United States forces, the lines of march traversed by them, and their relative location in line of battle when attacking the enemy

Map Illustrating The First Epoch of the Atlanta Campaign Embracing the...

Map Illustrating The First Epoch of the Atlanta Campaign Embracing the region from the Tennessee River to the Oostanaula River, showing the positions held and lines of works erected by the enemy, also the lines... More

...The Fifth Epoch of the Atlanta Campaign Embracing the region from the Chattahoochie [sic] river south to include Jonesboro and Lovejoys [sic] Station. Exhibiting, in connection, the passage of the Chattahoochie [sic] river, the Siege of Atlanta, and the operations at Jonesboro and Lovejoys [sic] Station, also the lines of works erected by the contending forces, and the lines of marches...
Company Canal Defences Situated on the right bank of the Miss. River in the Parish of Jefferson, La., [near New Orleans] surveyed by Jos. Gorlinski, Civ. Eng.
Map of a part of Beaufort and Colleton Districts between Broad River and South Edisto River
Rivier, Antonine - State: [Blank] - Year: 1861
Topographical Sketch of the Routes from Little Piney Ford on Gasconade River to Rolla. By H. A. Ulffers.

Topographical Sketch of the Routes from Little Piney Ford on Gasconade...

Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Texas, and all areas between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains

Map showing overland Pacific Telegraph from San Francisco to Moscow, submitted to the Committee on Commerce with a petition for a survey for a telegraphic line from the Amoor River to Russian America

Map showing overland Pacific Telegraph from San Francisco to Moscow, s...

Petitions and Memorials Referred to the House Committee on Commerce

Minnesota River Valley Scenic Byway - The Siege of New Ulm, Minnesota

Minnesota River Valley Scenic Byway - The Siege of New Ulm, Minnesota

The original finding aid described this photograph as: Original Caption: The siege of New Ulm, Minn. is a painting by Henry August Schwabe. It depicts an attack on New Ulm on August 19, during the Dakota War o... More

Minnesota River Valley Scenic Byway - Mass Indian Hanging in Mankato, Minnesota

Minnesota River Valley Scenic Byway - Mass Indian Hanging in Mankato, ...

The original finding aid described this photograph as: Original Caption: Drawn by W. H. Childs in 1862, this work illustrates the largest mass hanging in American history, when 36 Sioux Indians were executed, ... More

"Plate No. IV. Camp of the Right Wing, 13th Army Corps, on the Yocknapatafa [Yocona River], Decbr. 21st 1862. Surveyed under the Direction of 1st Lieut. Js. H. Wilson, Chief Topl. Engr."
Burr's Ferry [and vicinity, Sabine River, Louisana and Texas.]
Map of the Kentucky Central Rail Road and Valley of Licking River from Benton Sta. to Lexington, Ky., 80 miles, Showing all the important Bridges and their Defensive Works. Surveyed under the direction of Maj. J. H. Simpson, Chief Engr., Department of the Ohio, by G. A. Aschbach, Asst. U. S. Engr. Sketched and Platted Under the direction of Capt. T. B. Brooks, Vol. Engrs., By A. B. Miller, Asst. U. S. Engr.

Map of the Kentucky Central Rail Road and Valley of Licking River from...

"Fortifications Map File" Plans of Military Forts

Battle of Mouth of Sabine River, September 8th, 1863.

Battle of Mouth of Sabine River, September 8th, 1863.

Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Texas, and all areas between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains

Map Showing the Route of the Army During the Red River Campaign in the Spring of 1864. Surveys & Reconnoissances by Osw. Dietz, Civil Engineers, [and] Lieuts. Miles & McGregory.
Batteries for Entrenchment on south side and Batteries on north side, Conowingo Bridge, Susquehannah [sic] River; Md. [Panel of plans and sections.]

Batteries for Entrenchment on south side and Batteries on north side, ...

"Fortifications Map File" Plans of Military Forts

Reconnoissance of Wilmington River and St. Augustine Creek from Wassaw Sound to Savannah River, Georgia, By the Hyd Party under the direction of C. O. Boutelle, Asst., C. S., December 1864 [with inset plans of] Fort Thunderbolt...Battery on Turner's Rocks...[and the] Fort on Causten's Buff...by Eugene Willenbucher, December 1864.

Reconnoissance of Wilmington River and St. Augustine Creek from Wassaw...

"Fortifications Map File" Plans of Military Forts

Map of that portion of the Tennessee River [in northern Alabama and Tennessee] between Savannah and Chattanooga together with the country adjacent. Taken from Map of Middle Tennessee. Being compiled [in 1865] under direction of Col. W. E. Merrill.
Plan of One Tower for the East River Bridge
Kentucky River Lock and Bank Number One

Kentucky River Lock and Bank Number One

This image shows a north view of Kentucky River lock and bank number one. Historical Photographs

Kentucky River Lock and Dam Number Two

Kentucky River Lock and Dam Number Two

Original caption: Kentucky River Lock and Dam No. 2, View west from right bank below dam. Historical Photographs

Kentucky River Lock and Dam Number Two

Kentucky River Lock and Dam Number Two

Original caption: Dam No. 2 Kentucky River. Historical Photographs

Kentucky River Lock and Bank Number One

Kentucky River Lock and Bank Number One

This image shows Kentucky River lock number one from the left bank with the corner gates open. Historical Photographs

Kentucky River Lock and Bank Number One

Kentucky River Lock and Bank Number One

This image shows a panoramic view of Kentucky River lock and bank number one. Historical Photographs

Kentucky River Lock and Dam Number One

Kentucky River Lock and Dam Number One

Original caption: Dam No. 1 Ky. R. Shows facing on top of finished concrete, near abutment. Historical Photographs

Kentucky River Lock and Dam Number One

Kentucky River Lock and Dam Number One

Original caption: Dam No. 1 Ky. R. Concreting on top of foundation cribs is in progress. Shows how the bond is made from abutment to lock. 8' masc. height at crest of dam. Historical Photographs

Sketch of the Illinois and Michigan Canal and the proposed Hennepin Canal, showing their relations to the Illinois River, Mississippi River, and Lake Michigan

Sketch of the Illinois and Michigan Canal and the proposed Hennepin Ca...

Communications from the President to the House Committee on Railways and Canals of the 48th Congress Regarding the Cession of the Illinois and Michigan Canal to the United States by the State of Illinois

Kentucky River Lock and Dam Number One

Kentucky River Lock and Dam Number One

Original caption: Lock No. 1, Kentucky River Historical Photographs

Kentucky  River Lock and Dam Number Four

Kentucky River Lock and Dam Number Four

Original Caption: Kentucky River Lock and Dam No. 4, View S.W. from hill-top below the hemp factory, shows west end of dam, lock &c, with Frankfort and L & N. R.R. bridge in distance Historical Photographs

Kentucky River Lock and Dam Number Four

Kentucky River Lock and Dam Number Four

Original Caption: Kentucky River Dam No. 4. View west, from right bank just below hemp factory. Historical Photographs

Kentucky River Lock and Dam Number Four

Kentucky River Lock and Dam Number Four

Original Caption: Kentucky River Dam No. 4, View south, from river wall of lock, showing repairs to dam Historical Photographs

Kentucky  River Lock and Dam Number Four

Kentucky River Lock and Dam Number Four

Original Caption: Kentucky River Lock and Dam No. 4, View East from river wall of lock showing dam and hemp factory. Historical Photographs

Kentucky River Lock and Dam Number Two

Kentucky River Lock and Dam Number Two

Original caption: Kentucky River, Lock and Dam No. 2, View West From Right Bank Below Dam. Historical Photographs

Kentucky River Lock and Dam Number Two

Kentucky River Lock and Dam Number Two

Original caption: Kentucky River, Lock and Dam No. 2, View west from right bank above dam. Historical Photographs

Kentucky River Lock and Dam Number One
Kentucky River Lock and Dam Number One

Kentucky River Lock and Dam Number One

Original caption: Kentucky River Lock and Dam No. 1, View West from East side of breach excavation, shows breach, crib work, dam, lock houses &c. Historical Photographs

Kentucky River Lock and Dam Number One

Kentucky River Lock and Dam Number One

Original caption: Kentucky River Lock and Dam No. 1, View north shows breach, cribwork &c. Historical Photographs

Kentucky River Lock and Dam Number One

Kentucky River Lock and Dam Number One

Original caption: Kentucky River Lock and Dam No. 1, View south, shows breach, cribs &c. Historical Photographs

Kentucky River Lock and Dam Number One

Kentucky River Lock and Dam Number One

Original caption: Kentucky River Lock and Dam No. 1, View South of East from right bank below lock, shows lower gates, (open) &c. Historical Photographs

Kentucky River Lock and Dam Number One

Kentucky River Lock and Dam Number One

Original caption: Kentucky River Lock and Dam No. 1, View Northeast from hurricane deck of Str "United States" shows lower end of old dam, breach cribs &c. Historical Photographs

Kentucky River Lock and Dam Number Five

Kentucky River Lock and Dam Number Five

Original Caption: Kentucky River, Ky. Instantaneous view. Lock & Dam No. 5 Contractor's dredge at work, Snagboat "Kwasind" in motion, Photo by M. W. Venable, July 3, 1885 Historical Photographs

Kentucky River Lock and Dam Number Five

Kentucky River Lock and Dam Number Five

Original Caption: Kentucky River Improvement Lock & Dam No. 5. Looking down stream Aug 12, 1885. Historical Photographs

Kentucky River Dam Number Four

Kentucky River Dam Number Four

Original Caption: Kentucky River, Ky. Dam No. 4. Repairing Dam. Condition of work Sept. 7 1885. Photo by M. W. Venable Historical Photographs

Kentucky River Dam Number Four

Kentucky River Dam Number Four

Original Caption: Kentucky River, Ky. Dam No. 4 Repairing dam and mill, flume. Sept. 7, 1885. Photo by M. W. Venable Historical Photographs

Kentucky River Dam Number Four

Kentucky River Dam Number Four

Original Caption: Kentucky River, Ky. Dam No. 4 Repairing dam. Condition of work Sept. 7, 1885. Photo by M. W. Venable Historical Photographs

Kentucky River Dam Number Four

Kentucky River Dam Number Four

Original Caption: Kentucky River, Ky. Dam No. 4 Repairing Dam. Condition of work Sept. 7, 1885. Photo by M. W. Venable Historical Photographs

Kentucky River Lock and Dam Number Five

Kentucky River Lock and Dam Number Five

Original Caption: View of Lock No. 5 showing Upper Gates and Dam Sept. 10th 1885 Historical Photographs

Kentucky River Lock and Dam Number Five

Kentucky River Lock and Dam Number Five

Original Caption: Kentucky River Improvement Lock & Dam No. 5, View from right bank, Sept. 14, 1885, taken from right bank above abutment Historical Photographs

Kentucky River Lock Number Five

Kentucky River Lock Number Five

Original Caption: View of Dam No 4 and low gates Oct. 1st 1885 Historical Photographs

Kentucky River Lock Number Five

Kentucky River Lock Number Five

Original Caption: View of Lower gates Lock No 5, Oct 1st 1885 Historical Photographs

Kentucky River Lock and Dam Number Five

Kentucky River Lock and Dam Number Five

Original Caption: Kentucky River Improvement Lock & Dam No. 5 Oct. 4, 1885 Historical Photographs

Kentucky River Lock and Dam Number Five

Kentucky River Lock and Dam Number Five

Original Caption: Kentucky River Improvement Lock & Dam No. 5 Oct. 6, 1885, View from right side of river above abutment Historical Photographs

Kentucky River Lock and Dam Number Five

Kentucky River Lock and Dam Number Five

Original Caption: Kentucky River Lock & Dam No. 5. Oct 6, 1885 View from abutment Historical Photographs

Kentucky River Lock and Dam Number Five

Kentucky River Lock and Dam Number Five

Original Caption: View of Dam No 5, Oct 24th 1885 Historical Photographs

Kentucky River Lock and Dam Number Five

Kentucky River Lock and Dam Number Five

Original Caption: View of Dam No 5, Nov 2nd 1885 Historical Photographs

Kentucky River Lock Number Five

Kentucky River Lock Number Five

Original Caption: View of Lock No 5. Nov 2nd 1885 Historical Photographs

Kentucky River Lock and Dam Number Five

Kentucky River Lock and Dam Number Five

Original Caption: Kentucky River Lock & Dam No. 5. View from lower end of abutment December 15, 1885 Historical Photographs

Kentucky River Lock and Dam Number Five

Kentucky River Lock and Dam Number Five

Original Caption: Kentucky River Improvement Dam No. 5 Dec 17, 1885 Historical Photographs

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The objects in this collection are from The U.S. National Archives and Defense Visual Information Distribution Service. The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) was established in 1934 by President Franklin Roosevelt. NARA keeps those Federal records that are judged to have continuing value—about 2 to 5 percent of those generated in any given year. There are approximately 10 billion pages of textual records; 12 million maps, charts, and architectural and engineering drawings; 25 million still photographs and graphics; 24 million aerial photographs; 300,000 reels of motion picture film; 400,000 video and sound recordings; and 133 terabytes of electronic data. The Defense Visual Information Distribution Service provides a connection between world media and the American military personnel serving at home and abroad. All of these materials are preserved because they are important to the workings of Government, have long-term research worth, or provide information of value to citizens.

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