LOUP RIVER : river ,Nebraska United States


LOUP RIVER – river ,Nebraska United States


Loup River, river rising in three branches North Loup , Middle Loup , and south Loup rivers in east – central Nebraska , U.S .The river is formed in eastern Howard County, approximately 5 miles (8 km) northeast of St. Paul and 20 miles (32 km) north of Grand island, by the confluence of the North Loup and Middle Loup rivers. It flows east-northeast, past  by the confluence of the North Loup and Middle Loup rivers. It flows east-northeast, past Fullerton , where it is joined from the north by the Cedar River. It continues east-northeast roughly parallel to the Platte, past Genoa , separated from the Platte by approximately 15 mi (24 km). It joins the Platte from the northwest approximately 4 miles (6 km) southeast of Columbus.


A diversion dam southwest of Genoa diverts water to the Loup Canal to hydroelectric facilities facilities in Monroe and then in Columbus .The canal then runs into the Platte a short distance below its confluence with the Loup.

Abstract – Topographic map interpretation methods are used to determine Loup River-Platte River drainage divide area landform origins in the Nebraska Sand Hills region. Headwaters of major Loup River tributaries originate in the Nebraska Sand Hills region and flow in an east direction before turning to flow in a southeast direction east of the Sand Hills area. Based on study of drainage divides in surrounding regions the Nebraska Sand Hills area and adjacent regions are interpreted to have been crossed by massive southeast-oriented floods that converged in central and western Nebraska with large east-oriented floods from further west. Convergence of flood waters probably resulted in the ponding of flood waters and deposition of deltaic sediments. erosion of what were then deep Platte River, South Loup River, Middle Loup River, and North Loup River valleys, in that sequence, drained the ponded flood waters. Subsequent activity developed sand hills on the flood deposited deltaic sediments and probably significantly altered Loup River tributary routes, although the original valley sequence probably is preserved.

Preface – The following interpretation of detailed topographic map evidence is one of a series of essays describing similar evidence for all major drainage divides contained within the Missouri River drainage basin and for all major drainage divides with adjacent drainage basins. The research project is interpreting evidence in the context of a previously unexplored deep glacial erosion paradigm, which is fundamentally different from most commonly accepted North American glacial history interpretations. Project essays are listed on the sidebar category list under their appropriate Missouri River tributary drainage basin, Missouri River segment drainage basin (by state), and/or state in which the Missouri River drainage basin is located.


Introduction – The purpose of this essay is to use topographic map interpretation methods to explore Loup River-Platte River drainage divide area landform origins in the Nebraska Sand Hills region, USA. Map interpretation methods can be used to unravel many geomorphic events leading up to formation of present-day drainage routes and development of other landform features. While each detailed topographic map feature provides detailed evidence to be explained, the solution must be consistent with explanations for adjacent area map evidence as well as solutions to big picture map evidence puzzles. I invite readers to improve upon my solutions and/or to propose alternate solutions that better explain evidence and are also consistent with adjacent map area and big picture evidence. Readers may do so either by making comments here or by writing and publishing their own essays and then by leaving a link to those essays in a comment here.

This essay is also exploring a new geomorphology paradigm in which erosional landforms are interpreted as evidence left by immense glacial melt water floods. Implied in that interpretation is the immense floods were derived from a thick North American ice sheet that created a deep “hole” in the North American continent and also melted fast. The previously unexplored paradigm being tested in this and other Missouri River drainage basin landform origins research project essays is a thick North American ice sheet, comparable in thickness to the Antarctic ice sheet, occupied the North American region usually recognized to have been glaciated, and through its weight and erosive actions created a deep North American “hole”. The southwestern rim of that deep “hole” is today preserved in the high Rocky Mountains. The ice sheet through its weight and deep erosion (and perhaps deposition along major south-oriented melt water flow routes) caused significant crustal warping and tectonic change, through its action of melting fast produced immense floods that flowed across the continent, and through its action of melting fast systematically opened up space in the ice sheet created “hole” so headward erosion of newly developed north-oriented drainage systems captured immense south-oriented melt water floods and diverted the floods north into space the ice sheet had once occupied.

If this previously unexplored paradigm is correct the geographic region explored by this essay should contain evidence of immense floods that were captured by headward erosion of new valley systems so as to cause the floods to flow in a different direction. Ability of this previously unexplored paradigm to explain Loup River-Platte River drainage divide area landform origins in the Nebraska Sand Hills region will be regarded as evidence supporting the “thick ice sheet that melted fast” paradigm. This essay is included in the Missouri River drainage basin landform origins research project essay collection.

Illustrates a large region in central Nebraska, with the Colorado northeast corner located in the figure 1 southwest corner and a sliver of southeast South Dakota located in the figure 1 northeast corner  just north of the Missouri River. The east-northeast oriented South Platte River flows from the Colorado northeast corner to North Platte, Nebraska where it joins the southeast-oriented North Platte River to form the Platte River. From North Platte the Platte River flows in a southeast direction to Kearney and then turns to flow in a northeast direction to the figure 1 east edge. East of the figure 1 map area the Platte River turns to flow south and east to join the Missouri River, which flows in a south-southeast direction along the Nebraska eastern border. Near the figure 1 north edge the east-oriented Niobrara River flows from the figure 1 west edge to join the Missouri River near Niobrara, Nebraska (located near the figure 1 northeast corner). Between the Niobrara River and the Platte River in the figure 1 west half is a large region labeled as the Sand Hills. Streams or rivers originating in this sand hills region from north to south include Snake River and Gordon Creek (which are both Niobrara River tributaries), the North Loup River and its tributary the Calamus River, the Middle Loup River and its tributary the Dismal River, and the South Loup River. Within the Sand Hills region itself drainage history reconstructions are difficult if not impossible because sand dunes obscure most drainage routes and also because wind deposited sand may have significantly altered drainage routes. However, drainage histories can be reconstructed for regions surrounding the Nebraska Sand Hills region, which suggest an immense southeast-oriented flood flowed into the region and converged with a massive east-oriented flood. Flood waters were probably derived from a rapidly melting thick North American ice sheet and flood flow routes from western Nebraska headward (or up flood) into north central Montana and are documented essays listed under Niobrara River, White River, Cheyenne River, Belle Fourche River, Little Missouri River, Powder River, Yellowstone River, Musselshell River, MT Missouri River, and Milk River (among others) on the sidebar category list.  Southeast-oriented flood waters flowed across the Sand Hills region into regions described in essays listed under Elkhorn River and Loup River on the sidebar category list. Sand hills in the Nebraska Sand Hills region are probably formed on flood deposited deltaic sediments, deposited where converging flood waters were temporarily ponded.


Where does the South Loup river start?

The Loup River is comprised of three main branches, the North, Middle, and South Loup rivers, which all originate in north-central Nebraska and flow generally east/southeast.

Loup River-Platte River drainage divide area in the Nebraska Sand Hills region. Sheridan, Cherry, Keya Paha, Brown, Rock, Garden, Deuel, Keith, Lincoln, Grant, Arthur, Hooker, Mc Pherson, Thomas, Logan, Blaine, Loup, and Custer are Nebraska county names and the county boundaries area shown. The North Platte River flows from the figure 2 west edge across Garden County into Keith County and into Lincoln County, where it joins the east-northeast oriented South Platte River at North Platte. From North Platte the Platte River flows in southeast direction to the figure 2 south edge. The Niobrara River flows in a northeast direction in the figure 2 northwest quadrant in Sheridan County and western Cherry County and then in a southeast and northeast  direction near the figure 2 north center edge before turning to flow along the Keya Paha County southern border. Major Niobrara River tributaries in central Cherry County include east- and northeast-oriented Snake River and Gordon Creek, which are located south of the Cherry County Nebraska National Forest area and then turn to flow in northeast direction east of the National Forest area east boundary. The North Loup River originates south of Gordon Creek in central Cherry County and flows in an east, east-southeast, and southeast direction to the Blaine County northwest corner and then in southeast direction into Loup County and then to join the southeast-oriented Calamus River, which is a North Loup River tributary. The Calmus River originates in west-central Brown County and flows in a southeast direction to join the North Loup River. Several east-oriented branches of the Middle Loup River originate in southern Cherry County and along the Cherry County border with Grant and Hooker Counties and after combining flow in an east-southeast and southeast direction across Thomas County, the Blaine County southwest corner and the Custer County northeast corner to the figure 2 southeast corner. The Dismal River North and South Forks originate in southern Hooker County and the Dismal River flows across southern Thomas County before joining the Middle Loup River in Blaine County. The South Loup River originates as an east-oriented stream, but turns to flow in southeast direction to the figure 2 south edge (east half). All major Loup River tributaries are east-oriented in the Sand Hills region and turn to become southeast-oriented upon leaving the Sand Hills region. The northwest-southeast oriented drainage alignment seen in the region east of the Sand Hills region (in figure 2) is absent in the Sand Hills region, yet from other essays is known to exist in regions surrounding the Sand Hills region. The northwest-southeast oriented drainage alignment has been interpreted in other essays to have been formed by immense southeast-oriented floods that flowed across all of Nebraska, including the Sand Hills region.

 The Calf Creek Valley appears to be one of the longer continuous figure 5 valleys without a surface drainage route, although other extensive figure 5 map area valleys can be identified. West of the figure 5 map area there is a surface drainage in what appears to be the Calf Creek Valley west end, suggesting the Calf Creek Valley may have originated as a surface drainage route. Study of the Calf Creek Valley on more detailed topographic maps suggests it would be very difficult for surface drainage to flow through the valley today. Figure 5a below provides a detailed topographic map of an eastern Calf Creek Valley segment seen in less detail in figure 5 above. Note how the Calf Creek Valley floor is uneven and contains no evidence of a surface stream channel. If the Calf Creek Valley originated as a surface drainage route .

activity has since completely buried that drainage route with sand and from topographic map evidence alone it is impossible to determine whether the Calf Creek Valley as it exists today has much, if any, relationship to the original surface drainage route. The same problem exists with the present day surface drainage routes. Sand hill development has almost certainly altered drainage routes, and from topographic map evidence alone it is difficult or impossible to determine whether the present day routes are related to the pre-sand hill drainage routes.

 The Middle Loup River flows in an east direction across the figure 7 central area. The South Branch Middle Loup River flows in an east direction just north of the figure 7 south edge. Note how all streams are flowing in east-oriented valleys located between sand hills. The question can be asked, were the east-oriented valleys formed by the east-oriented streams or by east-oriented sand hills? Probably the valley origin is some combination of the two. Without east-oriented surface drainage routes the valleys would probably look like the Calf Creek Valley and might not even be continuous valleys. On the other hand, it is doubtful the valleys represent routes flood waters used when they flowed across the Nebraska Sand Hills region. Topographic map evidence alone in this figure 7 map area and also in all surrounding regions is not adequate to reconstruct pre-sand hills drainage routes. Such reconstructions must be done by using evidence from adjacent regions and then projecting evidence into the Nebraska Sand Hills region. Drainage histories can be reconstructed from all regions surrounding the Nebraska Sand Hills region, and those reconstructed drainage histories document immense southeast-oriented floods from the northwest. Essays illustrating and describing evidence along all major drainage divides extending from central and western Nebraska into north central Montana have been published and can be found under appropriate Missouri River tributary names on the sidebar category list. Essays listed under Loup River on the sidebar category list for regions east of the Sand Hills region document large southeast-oriented .

 Headward erosion of the Platte River valley captured the southeast-oriented flood flow and beheaded all flood flow routes to the newly eroded Republican River valley. Note also the southeast-oriented South Platte River tributaries located in the figure 8a northwest corner. Those southeast-oriented tributaries provide evidence headward erosion of the North Platte River valley beheaded southeast-oriented flood flow routes to what was then the newly eroded South Platte River valley. Similar evidence can be found surrounding the Nebraska Sand Hills region, supporting the interpretation that sand in the Sand Hills region was deposited by an immense southeast-oriented flood. Figure 10 below illustrates why flood waters may have been ponded north of the Platte River valley, which might explain why sandy deltas were deposited in that location.

How the Loup River and Platte River flow parallel to each other on opposite sides of a large valley for a considerable distance before joining to become one river. The interpretation provided here for the phenomena is the Platte River valley was eroded headward to capture not only southeast-oriented flood flow, but also to capture flood waters from further to west. In other words, the North and South Platte River valleys are recording routes used by two different and converging large floods (or at least flood waters that had used different routes to reach the figure 10 map area). Flood water flowing northeast along the South Platte River valley route converged with flood waters flowing southeast along the North Platte River valley route. The volume of flood water arriving in the figure 10 map area from each of these two different flood routes was so great that flood waters from each route flowed parallel to each other on opposite sides of the large valley for considerable distances before being forced to merge by the introduction of additional southeast-oriented flood flow from the northwest. To properly appreciate this phenomena study the Platte River valley downstream from this figure 10 map area.

Additional information and sources of maps studied – This essay has provided only a sample of the detailed topographic map evidence supporting the flood erosion interpretation. Many additional illustrations could be provided. Readers are encouraged to look at mosaics of detailed topographic maps to see the abundance of available data. Maps used in this study were created and published by the United States Geologic Survey and can be obtained directly from the United States Geological Survey and/or from dealers offering United States Geological Survey maps. Hard copy maps can also be observed at United States Geological Survey map depositories which are located throughout the United States and elsewhere. Illustrations used here were created using National Geographic Society TOPO software and digital map data. TOPO software and map data can be obtained from the National Geographic Society and/or dealers offering National Geographic Society digital map data.

  • July 14, 2022
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