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Creeks, streams & rivers

Posted by Smokey Stover on December 06, 2003

In Reply to: Creeks, streams & rivers posted by Brian from Shawnee on December 06, 2003

: : : : : : What's the difference between a creek and a stream. Apart from the fact that in Australia we tend more to creeks than streams, which I've always assumed was just a terminology thing.

: : : : : : And who decides when a creek becomes a river? In northern NSW & Qld, some of the creeks are huge, way bigger than most rivers down south. So what denotes a river over a creek?

: : : : : In the US, if memory serves, a length of moving water officially becomes a river when it reaches 100 miles.

: : : : : Creeks, streams -- and more names for less-than-rivers, too. Becks...runs (as in Bull Run, Virginia)...branches...kills (this in New York State, e.g., Catskills)...burns (that sounds Scots)...rills. But the difference between them? Er, local nomenclature?

: : : : In U.S. usage, streams include creeks (small) and rivers (large).

: : : >"..who decides.." In the US the USGS may do all the official naming. However there is some bureaucratic mechanism whereby anyone can pick anything not previously named but which shows up on a USGS map and submit a name for it. So if one can find a waterway on USGS map that is not already named you may submit "PhraseFinder Creek" and it may be accepted.

: : I have several tiny unnamed creeks on my property in northern NSW (Aust). So I set about to name them and announced it around the traps, and people have started using those names (cos they're silly names of course, so people remember them). Anyway, the other day I had to call an authority out to the farm to inspect an old cattle dip for chemicals, and he asked me if it was between two of my newly named creeks and to my astonishment, he used my names. I have registered these nowhere, yet this govt employee had the names written in some document he had. Methinks, sometimes these names simply evolve. It will be interesting to see how 'official' my self-named creeks become.

: Cool. I have a little creek, too. Just one full-time creek, though, so I'll take my time in choosing a name, and of course I'll solicit input from the wife and kids!

: By the way, someone mentioned the use of the word "kill" as being used in New York State. That's true, it's found in those parts of the U.S. where creeks still bear the names the Dutch settlers used for them. That would include much of lower New York State and New Jersey.

What's a smaller stream than a river or even a creek? A brook. True, it's a favorite term of developers for a small water-course, since it sounds good on street names and does wonders for the value of a property if there's one in the back yard. Incidentally, when I was growing up some of my fellow citizens were perplexed to see their local streams named on maps as creeks. The local pronunciation was "crick." A certain well-known predicament was described as being "up s h i t Crick without a paddle." SS