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Making Maps...old school

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#1
strvnartist

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How would Thomas Jefferson have made a map? I am interested in exploring some of the local woodland areas and producing a hand-drawn map. I know this is probably a complex project, especially for someone like me who comes to cartography knowing next to nothing of its processes. Nevertheless, I am...ambitious.

I'd like to avoid "cheating" by using Google Maps or GPS or CAD software etc etc. Where is a good place to begin? How do I collect data? What sort of equipment might be useful? How did Louis and Clark do it?

Thanks in advance for whatever advice you can spare.

#2
P Riggs

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I don't know about Thomas Jefferson, but George Washington began his career as a land surveyor.

You can start with The Survey History Museum.

Old school (I assume you have a LOT of time on your hands if it is a large area) will involve mathematics, trigonometry, and help. The easiest way would be to take a college course in surveying. My experience is that you'll learn to use a total station. If you want to go all the way after that, find antique equipment on ebay.

For my Master's thesis I started surveying the side of a hill with a classmate using a total station. I gave it up two days later and borrowed a survey-grade GPS from a local shop. Surveyors are a special breed that I admire, but I'm not one of them. I'll "cheat" any way I can!

I would rather focus on the cartography.
Philip Riggs
Decorative-Maps.com

#3
Jean-Louis

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The old school way that was used to create the panoramic views of cities in the 19th century (panoramic maps) involved walking around a place with a pencil and a sketchbook. The method was simply to walk across a town and sketch every building. Then, choosing an imaginary aerial vantage point, you would integrate all your sketches into a complete and detailed drawing of the city.

I find that this method is still quite efficient for a mapping a very small area like a neighborhood or a campus.

For larger projects, check out some of the stories in a book called the MapMakers by John Noble Wilford. It includes stuff like explorers wallking across Peru to physically measure it with a long tape, a 30-year endeavor to map India interrupted by all sorts of stuff including the cartographer being sold into slavery and other such tales.
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#4
Charles Syrett

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If you're serious about this, I would heartily recommend that you read "Mapping" by David Greenhood, which describes all kinds of pre-digital methods in a very engaging writing style. For example, he describes the plane table method, which was quite widely used in topographic mapping until photogrammetry came along.

Another (more modern) reference book is "Mapping Our Land" by Alix Flavelle. Her book describes simple and inexpensive mapping methods that can be used by people with limited financial resources, such as communities in third world countries. I've actually used her compass and measuring tape methods for mapping wooded areas, with decent results.

Charles Syrett
Map Graphics
http://www.mapgraphics.com

How would Thomas Jefferson have made a map? I am interested in exploring some of the local woodland areas and producing a hand-drawn map. I know this is probably a complex project, especially for someone like me who comes to cartography knowing next to nothing of its processes. Nevertheless, I am...ambitious.

I'd like to avoid "cheating" by using Google Maps or GPS or CAD software etc etc. Where is a good place to begin? How do I collect data? What sort of equipment might be useful? How did Louis and Clark do it?

Thanks in advance for whatever advice you can spare.



#5
Dennis McClendon

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Large-scale or small-scale? I second the recommendation of Greenhood's Mapping book.

But also look at the sketch map methods described in a Boy Scout handbook or merit badge pamphlet. To map Monticello, Mr. Jefferson probably counted the paces and bearings between the various corners, and perhaps walked some of the intermediate fencelines to get their lengths and bearings, making notes along the way about landmarks, notable trees, rock outcrops, etc. A surveyor will do this precisely enough that the bearings "close" to encircle the property, but a military scout would simply have developed an eye for distance and a talent for estimation.

Lewis and Clark took sun elevations for latitude and tried to estimate longitude for various prominent bends in the rivers they followed, and then sketched in everything in between. Sometimes, the captains would pace off traverses alongside the rivers to better calculate angles and distances.
Dennis McClendon, Chicago CartoGraphics
chicagocarto.com




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