Spotted yesterday in Oak Park, Illinois: a marker denoting the continental divide between the Mississippi and Great Lakes watersheds.
To anyone who works on watershed issues, such a divide has great meaning. Rain falling on the west side of the sign will theoretically end up in the Gulf of Mexico, on the east side in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. But I wouldn’t expect to find a marker explaining this in a community park.
The sign describes the significance of the divide in the settlement of the region by Europeans. Significantly, it also notes that the divide in reality no longer exists. The Chicago diversion routes water on both sides of the sign to the Mississippi river system.
It is tempting to try to compare a natural divide like this with the divide in America right now. But the analogy fails, unless a diversion comes along to unite our citizenry. I wonder what that might be.
Regardless, there’s something to be said for identifying and trying to point out to the public the key natural features of our communities.