The Last Map Makers

Another frontier closes as the mapping of America approaches completion

JUNE 12,1989: The number of cartographers who still go into the field to compile maps for the U.S. Geological Survey has dwindled to about sixty, and five of the best of them are seated around a table in a trailer park in Mountain Home, Idaho, shivering in the unseasonable June weather and eating elk meat shot by their boss, Jim Hanchett. Read more »

Unfolding The Nation

Wherever you go in search of history, there’s a good chance the first thing you reach for will be a road map. And road maps have a history too.

On Thanksgiving Day in 1895 the Chicago Times-Herald sponsored a fifty-four-mile road race from Jackson Park to Waukegan and on to Lincoln Park. The prize was five thousand dollars. The eventual winner, a man by the name of Frank Duryea, had at least two advantages over his competitors. First, unlike some of them, he was driving a car propelled by gasoline. Second, Duryea had noticed that the paper had published a rough plotting of the course, and he’d had the good sense to rip it out and use it.Read more »