The North branch of the Potomac meets the South branch here at Potomac Forks. The Canal follows the North branch but both were part of the survey that divided land between Virginia and Maryland. In the 18th century, the North branch had a greater flow of river and was presumed to be longer. It was discovered, however, in 1754 that the South branch was longer (and further west), and so the original source of the Potomac. The original land grant allowed Maryland to draw lines to the "first fountain" of the Potomac, and using the South Branch as the basis for the state boundary would have given Maryland considerably more land. Had the South branch been deemed longer, the land between both branches might have been a part of Maryland, not West Virginia.
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