Thursday, December 6, 2007

Old topographical map by US Geological survey of Town Branch neighborhood

Please click on map to enlarge

There is a bit of misinformation on the segment of the CAST system that describes the Town Branch of the West Fork of the White River.

Historically, the Town Branch of the West Fork of the White River is the stream that leaves the UA campus under Sixth Street with water draining much of the UA campus and the Fayetteville High School campus.

If you look at older USGS maps you will see the word Town on the portion of the stream running southeast between S. Ellis Ave. and S. Van Buren Ave.

At the time the stream was named, the UA campus was the extreme western edge of the "town" of Fayetteville. And there has been less dredging and filling of that portion, except at its confluence with a branch from the west, which is properly called the west arm of the Town Branch or even Wal-Mart Branch or I-540 Branch or Farmington Branch.

College Branch was the name given to the portion draining Markham Hill by city mappers in the 1990s and Mullins Creek was the name given since 2000 by the UA to the central part that runs from the ridge at Cleveland Street and under the the athletic facilities. Neither of these names should be applied to the part that flows under Sixth Street and the railroad and then through the Town Branch neighborhood.

The College Branch and the Mullins Creek join where they flow each from its on giant culvert from beneath Leroy Pond Street or Drive and through the old grounds of Carlson Terrace. That is where the combined flow should actually regain its historical name of Town Branch of the West Fork of the White River.

The Town Branch flows all the way to the West Fork. It is joined by the combined flow of the Cato Springs Branch and the west arm of the Town Branch near the Salvation Army Store south of 15th Street and west of School Avenue. From aerial photos one may recognize that the formerly meandering streams have been modified in recent decades. A lot of dredging was done on the west arm and the lower parts of the Cato Springs Branch. The straightening and widening makes the combined flow of those appear larger than that from the original Town Branch from the north.

But the mapmakers used the name Town Branch only for the parts of the stream that actually drained the town of Fayetteville. Names such as Tanglewood Branch and Spout Spring Branch now identify two tributaries that flow from the east of the UA to the Town Branch.

Another significant point is that the word "creek" is not properly added after the word "branch." The word "branch" is simply the name of a small stream that contributes to a larger stream, which in turn may be itself called a "creek" or "fork" or "bayou" or "river."

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