Major River Centerline Traces in Minnesota, extracted from DNR River Kilometer Index (RKI) files

This page last updated: 10/25/2013
Metadata created using Minnesota Geographic Metadata Guidelines

Go to Section:
1. Overview
2. Data Quality
3. Data Organization
4. Coordinate System
5. Attributes
6. Distribution - Get Data
7. Metadata Reference

Section 1 Overview
Originator Minnesota Geospatial Information Office (MnGeo)
Title Major River Centerline Traces in Minnesota, extracted from DNR River Kilometer Index (RKI) files
Abstract The MNRIVERS file represents stream centerline traces for 52 major rivers in Minnesota. These river traces were extracted from the River Kilometer Index (RKI) Stream Trace files from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). MNRIVERS represents a generalization of the state's river network.
Purpose The purpose of the MNRIVERS file is to provide a generalized river mapping file for large-area representation.
Time Period of Content Date 1981
Currentness Reference Matches content of USGS 1:24,000 and 1:62,500 quad maps available at the time the project was completed (1980-81).
Progress Complete
Maintenance and Update Frequency None Planned
Spatial Extent of Data Minnesota, Statewide
Bounding Coordinates -97.5
Place Keywords Minnesota, Statewide
Theme Keywords inlandWaters, Rivers, Streams, Hydrography, Surface Water, Stream Trace, RKI, Major Rivers, Stream Centerlines
Theme Keyword Thesaurus ISO 19115 Topic Category
Access Constraints None
Use Constraints Use should be consistent with the scale of origin and the capture methods of the dataset, as reported in the Data Quality Section.

1. Rivers are not all connected (for instance, a river flowing into another river at the point where the receiving river widens into a lake). Therefore, the file cannot be used for network applications without further processing.

2. Digitization of the traces of major rivers is coarse, reflecting the early date of the data preparation (mid-1970's).
Contact Person Information Susanne Maeder,
Minnesota Geospatial Information Office (MnGeo)
658 Cedar Street, Room 300
St. Paul, MN  55155
Phone: 651-201-2488
Fax: 651-296-6398
Browse Graphic Click to view a data sample
Associated Data Sets Associated Data:

Full River Kilometer Index (RKI) river trace and mile point data sets


1. Stream Inventory and Data Retrieval Systems Program (SIDRS), DNR Office of Planning, 1981.
SIDRS Report 7001: Program Overview: Development of a Statewide Hydrologic Reference System
SIDRS Report 7004: River Kilometer Indexing System: Description of Software
SIDRS Report 7005: River Kilometer Indexing System: Statistical Summary

For more surface water datasets of Minnesota, see this information webpage:

Section 2 Data Quality
Attribute Accuracy
Logical Consistency There are gaps in the file (for instance, where a river flows into another river through a lake), which means that the file cannot be used as is for network applications. However, because it represents stream centerlines, the RKI file is the only existing Minnesota river trace file suitable for river length measurement.
Completeness Covers 52 major rivers in Minnesota, on the USGS 1:62,500 or 1:24,000-scale base map, as available in 1980-81.
Horizontal Positional Accuracy Report is qualitative only.

A comparison by the Land Management Information Center (LMIC, now named MnGeo) with other stream files available by 1990 (notably the USGS 1:100,000 DLG Hydrography layer) showed that, while the RKI file contained every stream tributary appearing on the USGS base maps, the representations of the streams dating back to the EPA work in the mid-1970's were crude and did not capture all the sinuosity of the river as represented on the base map. The later digitizing of the smaller rivers by DNR did capture the linework as it appeared on the map.

The DLG file captures the rivers are polygons where they appear as such on the base maps, and better captures stream sinuosity, but does not capture all rivers on the 1:24,000 map series, since a river length cutoff was applied in creating the file.

Although the data was captured from 1:24,000-scale basemaps, the crudeness of the early digitizing means that the traces will not match the paper maps exactly.
Lineage The River Kilometer Index (RKI) Stream Trace Files are a set of arc covers representing centerlines of stream traces for Minnesota rivers. Digitizing was done by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in 1980-81. The base maps for the project were USGS 1:24,000 quadrangle maps where they were available, and 1:62,500 maps where the 1:24,000 maps had not been completed. Digitizing was done in PIOS, the ESRI predecessor to Arc/INFO. Before beginning this project, DNR obtained from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency digital river trace files of major rivers which had been automated by an EPA contractor in an early attempt to build a REACH file. DNR used these base files, dating from the mid-1970's, then digitized in any tributoaries appearing on the 1:24,000 or 1:62,500 base maps which were not on the EPA files. LMIC staff converted the files from their original PIOS format into ARC/INFO format in 1984.

Individual Major Rivers files from the DNR River Kilometer Index data set were appended together to create the MNRIVERS major river file. Major watershed numbers and river names were added to the file. Original Arc/INFO files were NAD27, UTM, Zone15, single precision, shifted. A double precision, unshifted version of the file was created. In 1997, the file was converted from NAD27 to NAD83. In 2011, MnGeo staff converted the Arc/iNFO coverages to shapefiles.

A full description of the lineage of the base RKI files used to create this coverage is in the metadata for the DNR River Kilometer Index Stream Trace Files:

Section 3 Spatial Data Organization (not used in this metadata)

Section 4 Coordinate System
Horizontal Coordinate Scheme Universal Transverse Mercator
UTM Zone Number 15E
Horizontal Datum NAD83
Horizontal Units meters

Section 5 Attributes
1 FNODE# 4 5 B -
5 TNODE# 4 5 B -
9 LPOLY# 4 5 B -
13 RPOLY# 4 5 B -
17 LENGTH 4 12 F 3
21 MN_RIVERS# 4 5 B -
25 MN_RIVERS-ID 4 5 B -
29 MAJOR 2 2 I -
31 STREAM.NAME 30 30 C -
61 FLAG 1 1 I -


FNODE# -- Arc internal variable - from node number
TNODE# -- Arc internal variable - to node number
LPOLY# -- Arc internal variable - left polygon number
RPOLY# -- Arc internal variable - right polygon number
LENGTH -- Arc internal variable - arc length in map units
MN_RIVERS# -- Arc internal identifier
MN_RIVERS-ID -- Arc identifier - assigned as equal to the MAJOR
MAJOR -- DNR major watershed code for the river. If the river flows through more than one major watershed, it is assigned to code of the major watershed in which it originates (headwaters watershed).
STREAM.NAME -- River Name
Table Detail:

Section 6 Distribution
Publisher Minnesota Geospatial Information Office (MnGeo)
Publication Date 1984
Contact Person Information Susanne Maeder,
Minnesota Geospatial Information Office (MnGeo)
658 Cedar Street, Room 300
St. Paul, MN  55155
Phone: 651-201-2488
Fax: 651-296-6398
Distributor's Data Set Identifier mnrivers
Distribution Liability MnGeo's full disclaimer is here:
Ordering Instructions 1. GIS data: this data set is distributed on the internet by clicking below after Online Linkage. Doing so will tell your browser to start downloading a 'ZIP' file which will contain the following:

- Data in shapefile (.shp, .shx., .dbf) format
- Documentation (.html)
- NOTICE.TXT, the disclaimer.

After downloading this 'zip' file, uncompress (unzip) it to extract the files described above. For help, see:
Online Linkage I AGREE to the notice in "Distribution Liability" above. Clicking to agree will either begin the download process or link to download information. See "Ordering Instructions" above for details.

Section 7 Metadata Reference
Metadata Date 10/25/2013
Contact Person Information Susanne Maeder,
Minnesota Geospatial Information Office (MnGeo)
658 Cedar Street, Room 300
St. Paul, MN  55155
Phone: 651-201-2488
Fax: 651-296-6398
Metadata Standard Name Minnesota Geographic Metadata Guidelines
Metadata Standard Version 1.2
Metadata Standard Online Linkage

This page last updated: 10/25/2013
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