point

It should not surprise that so elemental a word as point has several geographic meanings. Wherever land meets water, from Point Barrow, Alaska, to Point Pleasant, Florida, point describes the projection of dry ground into the surrounding sea, bay, lake, or river. In Appalachia, point may refer to the termination of a mountain ridge projecting into a confluence of valleys. Even on prairies, points abound. Several places called Point of Rock were important landmarks along the Santa Fe Trail. The most famous of these, located a few miles west of Dodge City, Kansas, demarcated a low hill that ended in a rocky escarpment. Unfortunately, this Point of Rocks was destroyed by highway construction in 1981. In river morphology, a point is the inside or convex curve of a meander, where sediment tends to aggrade. The condition of vegetation on a stream’s meander point is a useful indicator of its ecological health: if vegetation is colonizing the point, the health trend is likely positive. The state of the meander point is usually a better indicator of the stream’s overall condition than the presence or absence of erosion on the concave or outer curve of the channel. Erosion and consequent bank collapse on the outside of a bend can be a natural feature of the stream’s morphological dynamic.

William deBuys