About the Confluence Project

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Map of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed
“Map of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed” by Karl Musser is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Chesapeake Bay is the world’s third-largest estuary. Its 64,000-square-mile watershed extends over six states and the District of Columbia, and it is home to 18 million people. Confluence: Rivers and Streams in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed creates a comprehensive portrait of the entire watershed through color panoramic photographs of the river and stream confluences within it.

Confluences are historically important sites in relation to settlement, industry, commerce, transportation, and defense, exemplifying important intersections of nature and culture. To date, I have photographed approximately 200 sites throughout the watershed—mostly confluences, but some of the places where rivers and streams originate, too.

Confluence: Rivers and Streams in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed presents a complex, layered survey of the entire Chesapeake Bay watershed, revealing the its tremendous range and interconnectedness as a natural system. By investigating how humans, past and present, shape rivers and streams where they live and work, the photographs also reveal how human attitudes toward water and land are inscribed in the landscape and how these attitudes persist and change over time and as the waters proceed from headwaters to bay.

Confluence: Rivers and Streams in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed preserves the legacy of one of the world’s most important natural and cultural landscapes. It also serves as an enduring catalyst for further inquiries into history, ecology, and human place-making within the Chesapeake Bay watershed as population growth, land development, and climate change are changing it with unprecedented severity and speed.

As the first project of its kind to deal systematically with the entire watershed, Confluence: Rivers and Streams in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed contributes to a greater understanding of the historical and contemporary Chesapeake Bay and its watershed. I believe these photographs will enhance awareness of, appreciation for, and desire to preserve and revitalize these waters at a time of renewed concern and controversy over the funding and political will needed to care for and improve them.

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