John Wesley

The United States of Watersheds, Courtesy of the Washington Post

John Wesley, the 19th century geologist and explorer, who navigated the Colorado River in 1869 and 1872, realized that the limited water in the arid West would eventually lead to conflict between the states. Therefore, he suggested the boundaries of Western states be determined by watersheds—the topographical basins that funnel surface water to a single exit point. John Lavey thought that was a pretty good idea. So Lavey, a land use planner at the Sonoran Institute in Bozeman, Montana, set about to recreate Powell’s vision—but this time, instead of stopping in the West, he crossed the Rocky Mountains. Sticking with a maximum of 50 states, here are the boundaries Lavey drew, dictated by North American watersheds:

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