Monday, October 5, 2020

Episode 545 (10-5-20): Taking the Forks in Waterways, with Appreciation to Yogi Berra

Click to listen to episode (4:04)

Sections below are the following:

Transcript of Audio
Audio Notes and Acknowledgments
Extra Information
Related Water Radio Episodes
For Virginia Teachers (Relevant SOLs, etc.)

Unless otherwise noted, all Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 10-2-20.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of October 5, 2020.  With Major League Baseball in the midst of its playoffs for a coronavirus-affected season, we revisit a baseball-related episode from October 2015.

VOICE – ~ 5 seconds – “Hi, this is Yogi Berra.  When you come to the fork in the road, take it.”

Yogi Berra, the great New York Yankees catcher who died in September 2015, is legendary for his baseball accomplishments, his honesty and integrity, and—not least—his odd but insightful sayings known as Yogi-isms.  He’s not known for any water connections, but, nevertheless, the Yogi-ism you heard—“When you come to the fork in the road, take it.”—does say something about waterways.  Sound far-fetched?  Even, shall we say, out in left field?  Well, just have a listen for about 20 seconds to this line-up of forks in Virginia’s water geography.

VOICES  - ~21 sec – “
Clear Fork, Dry Fork, Forks of Buffalo, Forks of Water, Bassett Forks, Levisa Fork,
Russell Fork, Tug Fork, North Fork Shenandoah River, South Fork Roanoke River, Middle Fork Holston River, Left Fork Coal Creek.”

Waterway forks, or the tributaries of larger waterways, are part of the system of branches that collect and channel water moving across a landscape and within a watershed.  The smallest forks—like Left Fork Coal Creek—are headwater streams that, despite their size, have important physical, chemical, and biological roles within a watershed.  The largest forks—like the North and South forks of the Shenandoah River—can be well-known, defining features of a watershed and its region.  While many land settlements have “fork” in their name because roads meet there, sometimes those roads and the settlements they serve originated with forking waterways.  For example, English explorers of the James River in the 1600s came upon the Rivanna River confluence and named the location Point of Forks; today the area is the Fluvanna County town of Columbia.  On a larger scale, during the 1700s much of the Ohio River Valley was Virginia territory, and the location known as the Forks of the Ohio was a focal point for Ohio Valley travel and industry; today that location is Pittsburgh.

Thanks to several friends in Blacksburg for lending their voices to this episode, and a special thanks to the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame for permission to use the recording of Yogi Berra, from their 2009 video tribute upon Mr. Berra’s induction.  Thanks finally to Yogi Berra for his remarkable influence he had on American sports, culture, and language, relevant even to waterways.


Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  For more Virginia water sounds, music, or information, visit us online at, or call the Water Center at (540) 231-5624.  Thanks to Ben Cosgrove for his version of “Shenandoah” to open and close the show.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


This Virginia Water Radio episode is a revised repeat of Episode 284, 10-5-15. 

The recording of Yogi Berra was from a video produced by the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame on the occasion of Mr. Berra’s induction in 2009.  Thanks to Ron Jacober, historical consultant, and Greg Maracek, president, for granting permission to use an excerpt of the video, which is available online at  For more information about the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame, please see their Web site at

The names of Virginia waterways or locations containing the words “fork” of “forks” were recorded by Virginia Water Radio on October 1, 2015.  Thanks to colleagues at Virginia Tech for participating in these recordings.  The waterways and locations mentioned are as follows (in the order mentioned).
Clear Fork
–tributary of the Bluestone River, in Tazewell and Bland counties.
Dry Fork –
tributary of the Clinch River in Tazewell County; tributary of Banister River in Pittsylvania County (there are probably other Virginia streams named Dry Fork, too).
Forks of Buffalo – Amherst County community at the c
onfluence of North Fork and South Fork of Buffalo River.
Forks of Water –
at confluence of South Branch Potomac River and Strait Creek in Highland County.
Bassett Forks – Henry County c
ommunity where Little Reed Creek, Reed Creek, and Smith River join.
Levisa Fork – Big Sandy River tributary in southwestern Virginia.
Russell Fork – Big Sandy River tributary in southwestern Virginia.
Tug Fork – Big Sandy River tributary with headwaters in southwestern Virginia.
North Fork Shenandoah River – western Shenandoah Valley.
South Fork Roanoke River – eastern Shenandoah Valley.
Middle Fork Holston River – Washington County.
Left Fork Coal Creek –Tazewell County.

Click here if you’d like to hear the full version (2 min./22 sec.) of the “Shenandoah” arrangement/performance by Ben Cosgrove that opens and closes this episode.  More information about Mr. Cosgrove is available online at


Rivanna River (middle, background) confluence with the James River at Columbia (Fluvanna County), Va., June 17, 2007.
Meems Bottom covered bridge over the North Fork Shenandoah River in Shenandoah County, Va., Oct. 13, 2012.

Middle Fork Holston River in Washington County, Va., Oct. 3, 2010.
North Fork Roanoke River in Montgomery County, Va., March 21, 2019.



All of Virginia’s water “forks” are tributaries of some larger stream and are part of that larger waterway’s watershed, or basin. 

Three large watersheds contain, collectively, all of Virginia’s lands and waterways: the Chesapeake Bay, Atlantic Ocean, and Gulf of Mexico.  Within those large watershed, Virginia’s major river basins are as follows, according to the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR, onlne at

In the Chesapeake Bay watershed – Chesapeake Bay Coastal, James River, Potomac River, Rappahannock River, and York River.

In the Atlantic Ocean watershed – All of the river basins in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, plus Albemarle Sound Coastal, Atlantic Ocean Coastal, Chowan River, Roanoke River, and Yadkin River. 

In the Gulf of Mexico watershed - Big Sandy River, Clinch-Powell Rivers, Holston River, and New River.

The DCR map below shows these river basins (accessed at


Used in Audio

Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center, Little Falls, N.J., “Yogi-isms,” online at

DeLorme Company (Yarmouth, Me.), Virginia Atlas and Gazetteer, 2000. 

Charles A. Grymes,, “’Staunton’ vs. Roanoke River,”

National Baseball Hall of Fame, Yogi Berra, online at

Garson O’Toole, “Quote Investigator - When You Come to a Fork in the Road, Take It,” online at

St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame, “Yogi Berra,” online at

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)/National Water Information System, “Current Conditions for Virginia: Streamflow,” online at

Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, “Rivers & Streams” online at, “River Names in Virginia,” online at

For More Information about Virginia Waterways 

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “How’s My Waterway” (formerly “You’re your Watershed”), online at  This site allows users to locate watersheds and watershed information across the United States.

U.S. Geological Survey, “USGS Water Science School,” online at

U.S. Geological Survey/Virginia and West Virginia Water Science Center, online at

Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, “Hydrologic Unit Geography,” online at  This site provides detailed information on how watersheds are designated, plus access to interactive maps of Virginia’s watersheds.

Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, “Virginia’s Major Watersheds,” online at

Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, “Watershed Roundtables,” online at  This site provides access to information about watershed groups in Virginia’s major river basins.

Virginia Water Resources Research Center, “Divide and Confluence,” by Alan Raflo, in Virginia Water Central Newsletter, February 2000, pp. 8-11, online at  This is an introduction to watersheds and to Virginia’s main river basins. 


All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (  See particularly the see the “Rivers, Streams, and Other Surface Water” category.

Episode 419, 5-7-18, “Meet the Big Sandy Watershed, with ‘Three Forks of Sandy’ by Bobby Taylor,” focuses on the three forks of the Big Sandy River, all mentioned in this week’s episode (Levisa, Russell, and Tug). 

Another episode with a baseball player connection is Episode 304, 2-22-16, “George Washington, Walter Johnson, and the Rappahannock River.”

Following are links to some other episodes on Virginia geography

A walk across Virginia – Episode 110, 5-14-12.
Cumberland Gap – Episode 544, 9-28-20.

Exploration of the Chesapeake Bay – Episode 140, 12-10-12.

Geography in general – Episode 265, 5-11-15.
Mountain gaps – Episode 288, 11-2-15.
Virginia connections to the Ohio River Valley – Episode 422, 5-28-18.
Virginia rivers quiz – Episode 334, 9-19-16.
Virginia's Western or Alleghany Highlands – Episode 379, 7-31-17.
Water and settlement of Roanoke – Episode 181, 9-30-13.
Watersheds – Episode 156, 4-8-13; Episode 209, 4-14-14; Episode 251, 2-2-15.


Following are some Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs) that may be supported by this episode’s audio/transcript, sources, or other information included in this post.

2010 Science SOLs 

Grades K-6 Earth Resources Theme
4.9 – Va. natural resources, including watersheds, water resources, and organisms.

Grades K-6 Living Systems Theme

6.7 – natural processes and human interactions that affect watershed systems; Va. watersheds, water bodies, and wetlands; and water monitoring.

Earth Science Course

ES.8 – influences by geologic processes and the activities of humans on freshwater resources, including groundwater and major watershed systems in Virginia.

2015 Social Studies SOLs

Virginia Studies Course
VS.2 – physical geography of Virginia past and present.

United States History to 1865 Course

USI.2 – water features important to the early history of the United States.
USI.5 – factors that shaped colonial America. 

World Geography Course
WG.3 – how regional landscapes reflect the physical environment and the cultural characteristics of their inhabitants.
WG.6 – past and present trends in human migration and cultural interaction as influenced by social, economic, political, and environmental factors.

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at

Following are links to Water Radio episodes (various topics) designed especially for certain K-12 grade levels.

Episode 250, 1-26-15 – on boiling, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 255, 3-2-15
– on density, for 5th and 6th grade.
Episode 282, 9-21-15
– on living vs. non-living, for kindergarten.
Episode 309, 3-28-16
– on temperature regulation in animals, for kindergarten through 12th grade.
Episode 333, 9-12-16
– on dissolved gases, especially dissolved oxygen in aquatic habitats, for 5th grade.
Episode 403, 1-15-18
– on freezing and ice, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 404, 1-22-18
– on ice on ponds and lakes, for 4th through 8th grade.
Episode 406, 2-5-18
– on ice on rivers, for middle school.
Episode 407, 2-12-18
– on snow chemistry and physics, for high school.
Episode 483, 7-29-19
– on buoyancy and drag, for middle school and high school.
Episode 524, 5-11-20
– on sounds by water-related animals, for elementary school through high school.
Episode 531, 6-29-20
– on various ways that animals get water, for 3rd and 4th grade.
Episode 539, 8-24-20
– on basic numbers and facts about Virginia’s water resources, for 4th and 6th grade.