Eastern Continental Divide

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Not to be confused with Eastern Continental Trail.
For a list of subwatersheds on the east of the ECD, see Atlantic Seaboard.
A map of the principal hydrological divides of North America. The Eastern Continental Divide (orange line) demarcates two watersheds of the Atlantic Ocean: the Gulf of Mexico watershed and the Atlantic Seaboard watershed.

The Eastern Continental Divide, in conjunction with other continental divides of North America, demarcates two watersheds of the Atlantic Ocean: the Gulf of Mexico watershed and the Atlantic Seaboard watershed. Prior to 1760, the divide represented the boundary between British and French colonial possessions in North America. The ECD runs south-southwest from the Eastern Triple Divide in Pennsylvania to the watershed of the Kissimmee River, which drains via the Lake Okeechobee and the Okeechobee Waterway to both the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.

The geography for the 1763 demarcation line separating the Thirteen Colonies from lands west of it, and westwards to the Mississippi River generally runs along, or close to the Eastern Continental Divide's line going from the southern Georgia border northwards to the existing Pennsylvania/New York State border, and from there northeastwards along the St. Lawrence Divide into New England.

Because the divide represents the highest terrain, air is forced upwards regardless of wind direction. This process of orographic enhancement leads to higher precipitation than surrounding areas. In winter, the divide is often much snowier than surrounding areas due to orographic enhancement and cooler temperatures with elevation. Some locations in North Carolina average up to 100 inches of snow a year and up to 175" a year falls in optimal parts of West Virginia.

Red Creek west of the crest of the Allegheny Front in the Dolly Sods area of West Virginia; the creek originates along the Eastern Continental Divide, with its waters flowing to the Gulf of Mexico as part of the Ohio River watershed.
Seneca Creek, incised into the Allegheny Front west of Seneca Rocks, West Virginia. This short but steep creek originates along the Eastern Continental Divide; its waters flow into the Atlantic Ocean via the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay.
ECD points
Area Point Summit or other feature
Pennsylvania: Eastern Triple Divide 2,523 feet (769 m)
41°50′48″N 77°50′14″W / 41.84667°N 77.83722°W / 41.84667; -77.83722
triple watershed point: watersheds of the Atlantic Seaboard, Gulf of Mexico, & Gulf of Saint Lawrence at the respective headwaters of Pine Creek (West Branch Susquehanna River), the Allegheny River, and the Genesee River.
Pennsylvania: Babcock Ridge
Pennsylvania: List of tunnels in Pennsylvania 2,167 feet (661 m)
40°28′53″N 78°33′01″W / 40.48139°N 78.55028°W / 40.48139; -78.55028
summit near Allegheny/Gallitzin Tunnels
Pennsylvania: Allegheny Mountain 2,690 feet (820 m)
39°57′41″N 78°51′24″W / 39.96139°N 78.85667°W / 39.96139; -78.85667
summit above Allegheny Mountain Tunnel (Pennsylvania Turnpike)
Pennsylvania: Allegheny Mountain 2,460 feet (750 m)
39°48′37″N 78°57′38″W / 39.81028°N 78.96056°W / 39.81028; -78.96056
summit above Sand Patch Tunnel
Pennsylvania: Savage Mountain 2,392 feet (729 m)[1]39°45′12″N 78°54′58″W / 39.75333°N 78.91611°W / 39.75333; -78.91611 railroad cut on Great Allegheny Passage
Pennsylvania/Maryland: Savage Mountain 2,840 feet (870 m)
39°43′21″N 78°54′51″W / 39.72250°N 78.91417°W / 39.72250; -78.91417
highest summit of the Mason–Dixon Line
Maryland: Interstate 68 2,620 feet (800 m)
39°40′58″N 79°02′16″W / 39.6828°N 79.037704°W / 39.6828; -79.037704
crossing near Green Lantern Road
Maryland: Savage Mountain 2,600 feet (790 m)
39°30′27″N 79°13′9″W / 39.50750°N 79.21917°W / 39.50750; -79.21917
saddle point at planned route of 1828 C&O Canal
Maryland: Backbone Mountain 3,380 feet (1,030 m)
39°14′15″N 79°29′8″W / 39.23750°N 79.48556°W / 39.23750; -79.48556
highest Backbone summit on ECD (near MD/WV border)
West Virginia: Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia [specify] Midland Trail: planned crossing for the 19th century James River and Kanawha Turnpike
West Virginia: US Route 33 North / State Route 55W 3,295 feet (1,004 m)
38°53′31″N 79°28′04″W / 38.892050°N 79.467781°W / 38.892050; -79.467781
Saddle Point at Pendleton County and Randolph County.
West Virginia/Virginia: Interstate 64 2,460 feet (750 m)
37°47′15″N 80°13′28″W / 37.787539°N 80.224528°W / 37.787539; -80.224528
Virginia: Jefferson National Forest 3,620 feet (1,100 m)
37°20′27″N 80°32′4″W / 37.34083°N 80.53444°W / 37.34083; -80.53444
saddle point at Johns Creek headwaters (James River tributary), and near triple point of Mississippi River (W) & Chesapeake Bay (NE)/Albemarle Sound (Roanoke River) (SE)
Virginia: Appalachian Trail 3,397 feet (1,035 m)
37°22′50″N 80°18′23″W / 37.380422°N 80.306368°W / 37.380422; -80.306368
Parallel Route Begin
Virginia: Appalachian Trail 3,224 feet (983 m)
37°20′37″N 80°21′53″W / 37.343516°N 80.364647°W / 37.343516; -80.364647
Parallel Route Begin
Virginia: Interstate 81 2,180 feet (660 m)
37°07′43″N 80°22′17″W / 37.128708°N 80.371299°W / 37.128708; -80.371299
Virginia: Christiansburg, VA 2,180 feet (660 m)
37°05′41″N 80°26′44″W / 37.094853°N 80.445558°W / 37.094853; -80.445558
2940 Riner Rd, Christiansburg, VA 24073
Virginia: Interstate 77 2,860 feet (870 m)
36°39′03″N 80°42′20″W / 36.650896°N 80.705609°W / 36.650896; -80.705609
North Carolina: Thurmond Chatham Wildlife Management Area 36°22′38″N 81°13′15″W / 36.377344°N 81.220722°W / 36.377344; -81.220722 triple point of New River and Yadkin/West Prong Roaring rivers
North Carolina: Interstate 40 2,880 feet (880 m)
35°37′06″N 82°15′47″W / 35.618233°N 82.263007°W / 35.618233; -82.263007
North Carolina: Interstate 26 2,130 feet (650 m)
35°17′24″N 82°24′07″W / 35.290048°N 82.40193°W / 35.290048; -82.40193
North Carolina: U.S. Route 276 2,910 feet (890 m)
35°07′47″N 82°38′21″W / 35.129807°N 82.63921°W / 35.129807; -82.63921
North Carolina: U.S. Route 178 2,694 feet (821 m)
35°05′46″N 82°48′34″W / 35.096133°N 82.80940°W / 35.096133; -82.80940
crossing, approx. 1 mile north of NC/SC border
North Carolina: NC 226 and Blue Ridge Parkway 2,820 feet (860 m)
35°51′10″N 82°03′03″W / 35.85266°N 82.0507166°W / 35.85266; -82.0507166
North Carolina/South Carolina: French Broad watershed [specify] tributary of the Tennessee River along NC/SC border dividing mountain ridges running southeast meets Santee watershed flowing into Atlantic
North Carolina/South Carolina: Sassafras Mountain 3,564 feet (1,086 m)
35°03′53″N 82°46′38″W / 35.06472°N 82.77722°W / 35.06472; -82.77722
located along the South Carolina-North Carolina border in northern Pickens County, South Carolina and southern Transylvania County, North Carolina nearest to the town of Rosman, North Carolina
North Carolina/South Carolina: Savannah watershed [specify] across the border of Pickens County, South Carolina & Greenville County, South Carolina up into Transylvania County, North Carolina, Jackson County, North Carolina, and Macon County, North Carolina to dividing mountain ridges to Tennessee River tributaries
North Carolina: Highlands, North Carolina 4,100 feet (1,200 m)
35°3′15″N 83°12′8″W / 35.05417°N 83.20222°W / 35.05417; -83.20222
North Carolina: Cowee Gap 4,199 feet (1,280 m)
35°05′27″N 83°08′52″W / 35.09083°N 83.14778°W / 35.09083; -83.14778
divides Tennessee (Cullasaja) and Savannah (Chatooga) rivers
Georgia: Black Rock Mountain State Park 3,640 feet (1,110 m)
34°54′53″N 83°20′38″W / 34.91472°N 83.34389°W / 34.91472; -83.34389[1]
a Blue Ridge summit
Georgia: ACF River Basin at Young Lick 3,809 feet (1,161 m)
34°49′22″N 83°39′09″W / 34.82278°N 83.65250°W / 34.82278; -83.65250
triple point at intersection of 3 GA counties: Hiwassee (Towns Co)/Chattahoochee River (Habersham Co) on the west & on the east: Savannah River (Rabun Co)
Georgia: Altamaha watershed [specify] triple point along border of Hall & Banks (GA) counties: Chattahoochee River-Banks (west) & Altamaha River-Hall/Savannah River-Banks (east)
Georgia: Suwanee watershed [specify] triple point: Chattahoochee River/Suwanee (west) & Altamaha River (east)
Georgia: Interstate 85 1,280 feet (390 m)
34°04′31″N 83°55′04″W / 34.075235°N 83.917737°W / 34.075235; -83.917737
crossing (1 of 5)
Georgia: Interstate 85 1,120 feet (340 m)
33°59′53″N 84°04′36″W / 33.998098°N 84.07661°W / 33.998098; -84.07661
crossing (2 of 5)
Georgia: Norcross, Georgia through Norcross historic district
Georgia: Interstate 85 1,050 feet (320 m)
33°54′44″N 84°12′29″W / 33.912202°N 84.207973°W / 33.912202; -84.207973
crossing (3 of 5)
Georgia: Interstate 285 1,020 feet (310 m)
33°48′11″N 84°15′00″W / 33.803115°N 84.250031°W / 33.803115; -84.250031
crossing (1 of 2)
Georgia: Atlanta near Dekalb Av
Georgia: Interstate 75/85 1,020 feet (310 m)
33°45′08″N 84°22′46″W / 33.752354°N 84.37942°W / 33.752354; -84.37942
crossing (1 of 4 crossings of I-75/4 of 5 crossings of I-85)
Georgia: Interstate 20 1,050 feet (320 m)
33°44′28″N 84°24′38″W / 33.741221°N 84.410663°W / 33.741221; -84.410663
Georgia: Interstate 85 1,000 feet (300 m)
33°39′42″N 84°25′39″W / 33.661782°N 84.4274°W / 33.661782; -84.4274
crossing (5 of 5)
Georgia: Interstate 75 976 feet (297 m)
33°39′19.60″N 84°23′42.52″W / 33.6554444°N 84.3951444°W / 33.6554444; -84.3951444
crossing (2 of 4)
Georgia: Interstate 285 960 feet (290 m)
33°37′51.56″N 84°23′34.40″W / 33.6309889°N 84.3928889°W / 33.6309889; -84.3928889
crossing (2 of 2)
Georgia: Interstate 75 927 feet (283 m)
33°34′29.77″N 84°20′7.67″W / 33.5749361°N 84.3354639°W / 33.5749361; -84.3354639
crossing (3 of 4)
Georgia: Fall line of the United States [specify] near Macon, Georgia, this intersection is a triple physiographic point of the Piedmont (to the north) and the Gulf & Atlantic coastal plains (southwest & southeast).
Georgia: Interstate 75 410 feet (120 m)
32°10′16.10″N 83°45′9.25″W / 32.1711389°N 83.7525694°W / 32.1711389; -83.7525694
crossing (4 of 4)
Georgia: Satilla watershed [specify] triple point: Suwanee (west) & Altamaha River/Satilla River (east)
Georgia: St. Marys watershed [specify] triple point: Suwanee (west) & Satilla River/St. Marys River (east)
Florida: St. Johns watershed [specify] triple point: Suwanee (west) & St. Marys River/St. Johns River (east)
Florida: Interstate 10 159 feet (48 m)
30°15′14.64″N 82°23′57.84″W / 30.2540667°N 82.3994000°W / 30.2540667; -82.3994000
Florida: Florida Trail [specify] Central Florida crossing over the Florida crustal arch
Florida: Withlacoochee watershed [specify] triple point: Suwanee/Withlacoochee River (Florida) (west) & St. Johns River (east)
Florida: Miami watershed [specify] triple point: Withlacoochee (west) & St. Johns River/Miami River (east)
Florida: Kissimmee/Okeechobee watershed [specify] south point of ECD @ Withlacoochee & Miami/Kissimmee triple point (Kissimmee drains to both Gulf & Atlantic via Lake Okeechobee & Okeechobee Waterway)


  1. "Elevation Chart". The Great Allegheny Passage: The Cumberland and Pittsburgh Trail. Allegheny Trail Alliance. Archived from the original on May 6, 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-09.  Maps: Eastern Continental Divide