Potomac River facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Potomac River
Great Falls of the Potomac River - NPS.jpg
Potomacwatershedmap.png
The Potomac River watershed covers the District of Columbia and parts of four states
Native name Patawomeck
Country United States
State West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia, District of Columbia
Cities Cumberland, MD, Harpers Ferry, WV, Washington, D.C., Alexandria, VA
Physical characteristics
Main source Fairfax Stone
Preston County, West Virginia, United States
3,060 ft (930 m)
River mouth Chesapeake Bay
St. Mary's County, Maryland/Northumberland County, Virginia, United States
0 ft (0 m)
Length 405 mi (652 km)
Discharge
  • Location:
    Little Falls, near Washington, D.C. (non-tidal; water years: 1931–2018)
  • Minimum rate:
    4,017 cu ft/s (113.7 m3/s) (2002)
  • Average rate:
    11,498 cu ft/s (325.6 m3/s) (1931–2018)
  • Maximum rate:
    23,760 cu ft/s (673 m3/s) (1996)
Discharge
(location 2)
  • Average rate:
    9,504 cu ft/s (269.1 m3/s)
Discharge
(location 3)
  • Average rate:
    4,168 cu ft/s (118.0 m3/s)
Discharge
(location 4)
  • Average rate:
    3,376 cu ft/s (95.6 m3/s)
Basin features
Basin size 14,700 sq mi (38,000 km2)
Tributaries
  • Left:
    Conococheague Creek, Antietam Creek, Monocacy River, Rock Creek, Anacostia River
  • Right:
    Cacapon River, Shenandoah River, Goose Creek, Occoquan River, Wicomico River


Note: Since 1996, the Potomac has been the 'sister river' of the Ara River of Tokyo, Japan

The Potomac River 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, with a drainage area of about 14,700 square miles (38,000 km2). In terms of area, this makes the Potomac River the fourth largest river along the Atlantic coast of the United States and the 21st largest in the United States. Over 5 million people live within the Potomac watershed.

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.

Images for kids


Potomac River Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.