Great Overview of Mexico's Rivers

The author traveling up the Usumacinta River, circa 1985 or so

The folks over at Geo-Mexico point out, “Mexican rivers are not well suited for navigation and thus have had only a minor influence on Mexico’s historical development.” For some reason, despite my propensity to nerd out on both Mexican and US history, it never occurred to me to contemplate that vital difference. So much of US commerce and culture has evolved around our rivers as major thoroughfares. For example, as J.C. Furnas writes in his excellent book, The Americans: A Social History of the United States, “This intimate relation between the newest part of the new nation and the Mississippi waterway was dramatized in 1802 when the Yankees of Marietta, Ohio, sent a cargo direct to Jamaica in a seagoing vessel built right there on the Ohio some 600 feet above sea level.”

Food for thought. For a great overview of Mexico’s inland waterways, check out the rest of the Geo-Mexico post, which is actually an excerpt from Geo-Mexico: The Geography and Dynamics of Modern Mexico. Widgets

One Response to “Great Overview of Mexico's Rivers”

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  1. Lorena says:

    Very interesting comments Churpa on the different roles that rivers have played in Mexico vs. the US. When I think about water areas of Mexico, I realized that I don’t think rivers, I think beaches and Lakes.

    Even in places like the Copper Canyon, it’s the canyons left behind by the rivers that are so dramatic.

    Carl and I were fortunate to spend several months, at different times in the Copper Canyon. For me, if was mostly living in Batopilas, and doing day trips from there. Carl was also able to do extensive hikes and lead some burro assisted trips in various canyons over the years, but my legs were never up for that. ;-(

    For those interested in exploring this incredible land, Mike Huckaby and Cathy Waterman continue to lead hikes and burro assisted trips in the Copper Canyon, including pioneering new (for non Tarrahumara) trails. You can check them out at and

    In addition to several fall and winter trips, Mike and Cathy will be leading the Annual Caballo Blanco Memorial Hike next Spring.