evolution of river navigation and public access to rivers.
This section concerns the history of
river usage and accessibility. Its purpose to help you understand how rivers
were used in the past, what their legal status was, and how this affects modern
uses and laws.
Pirates conducted "business" along
Commercial navigability of rivers
sometimes included nefarious deeds
The federal government holds in trust for the people any river
that is navigable and could be navigated for commercial purposes, which could
mean sending heavy barges down the Columbia River, a hired raft down the
Colorado, or even stolen goods along the Ohio or Mississippi rivers. It's all
commericial--from a certain point of view.
Pirates lurked along the shores of the Great Lakes and some of
the major rivers of nineteenth-century America, hoping to redesignate the
ownership of goods being shipped along the waterways. Their impressive success
in some quarters reflects the amount of commercial traffic on the rivers, a
clear indicator that a currently navigable river also has a history of
Even if neither merchants nor pirates may currently peddle their
wares along some rivers that are still navigable, if only by canoe or kayak,
their historic use for such purposes makes them public property, and the public
has a right to access them.
The National Rivers Website and the
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or extend your membership by going to
memberships. Thank you for your support!
NORS was founded in
For more information on your legal rights to canoe, kayak,
raft, fish, picnic, camp, walk along, and otherwise visit rivers, see the other
items on the River Law menu.
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