I have a list of things each have two grid references, start and stop points. I can turn these into points and join them with polylines.

But what I need to do is have the lines that join the points the follow the route of another polyline, in this case it is a river.

I have 38 lists (for various rivers), each with 10-20 items on them, so hopefully I can find a quick soloution.


This sounds like a job for the Snap tool which appears to require a Standard (ArcEditor) or Advanced (ArcInfo) license.

"One use case for this tool is to rectify the differences in shared or common boundaries between two datasets by snapping the vertices in one boundary to the vertices, edges, or end points of the other. If the input features do not have enough vertices to match the exact curvature of the other boundary, vertices can be added to the input features using the Densify tool to allow for an added level of detail."

An alternative may be to use the Linear Referencing approach suggested by @simplexio - perhaps the Overlay Route Events tool with input points and output lines. However, I would try Densify/Snap first, if you have the required licensing.

  • Is there not a tool that will join the points with a line that will follow the river rather than just with a straight line? – Jake Oct 17 '12 at 13:07
  • I think Densify/Snap is the closest thing to that. – PolyGeo Oct 17 '12 at 21:32

Do "linear referencing" points onto river linestring (you need to have linestring not multilinestring) to get your order then make line. in PostGIS this would be done using st_line_locate_point and st_makeline(point order by distance_from_start).

In ArcGIS, same logic , no idea if there is linear referencing tool

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