Deep and wide enough for travel
I took this picture last week, during an all-day rain. I didn't hear about any major flooding problems around our area, but the streams were certainly running full.
This little stream, Warrens Fork in Christian County, KY, has appeared on the blog before. It's a tributary of the South Fork of the Little River.
In the early days of Kentucky and elsewhere, along creeks like this one, people depended on high water to take their goods to market. They built their canoes or small flatboats ahead of time so they were ready to go when the water rose.
Then, during a freshet like the one we just had, they floated downstream with their bundles of furs, smoked meats, and whatever else they had to sell. On some of these crooked, winding little streams, it must have been a wild ride.
It may be hard to imagine traveling such a small stream, but it was a common practice.
Their [the flatboats'] cheapness and shallow draft enabled them to carry freight on most creeks worthy of the name. The produce was loaded while the creeks were more or less dry; then when a freshet occurred, they were floated to the nearest river.
Quoted from p. 849 of The Encyclopedia of Louisville. Edited by John E. Kleber, University Press of Kentucky, Lexington, 2001.