Posts Tagged ‘maps’

Where’s Ward? 1881.

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

Click on this map to see a bigger version.   In 1881, eight years before statehood, this is how the county lines were drawn in north-central North Dakota:

Your first question if you’re familiar with this area is probably  ”Where’s Ward?”    Ward, home to the city of Minot, is one of the most populous counties in the state but just a few years before statehood Minot didn’t show up on maps and the county didn’t exist.

Ward County was created in 1885 and named after the chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Counties (how convenient).   Portions of Stevens, Renville and “Mountraille” were merged to create what is today known as “Imperial Ward” County. Imperial Ward was the largest county in the state until 1910 when it was broken up, reforming Mountrail and Renville and adding Burke County to the north, and leaving a much-smaller Ward County to the south.  From the 7/15/1881 Bismarck Tribune.

Vanish, North Dakota, 1950s

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

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In the early 1950s the Garrison Dam was well under construction, and the government was working on accommodating several communities that were about to be soaked by the newly-formed Lake Sakakawea. Two villages, Van Hook and Sanish, were only a few miles apart with a little ridge of high land between them, so a new town was platted out in the middle. The media wittily called the new town Vanish, a play on Sanish’s name and its unavoidable fate, but there’s no “Vanish, ND” on the maps today. When you lay the map below over nearby towns to figure out which one this is, you realize that the government was far less witty than the newspapers. The powers-that-be named the new town…New Town.

Antarctica, 1890s.

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

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It is usually left off of world maps, but in this one Antarctica is the guest of honor. Most flat map projections, even if they do include Antarctica portray it as a wide band of white, with little visualization of how it actually appears. Above is a map viewing the spherical Earth from a southerly position, providing the least distortion to Antarctica, but giving a very different view of where South America, South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia lie in relation. The map’s purpose is to show various expeditions to locate the South Pole; the map was reduced such that the labels are almost unreadable even in the original. From the multivolume The Book of History, 1890s.

Trip Around The North Sea, 1927.

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

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In the 1920s, the American Farm Bureau Federation toured northern Europe; this was the map of their travels. From The Bureau Farmer, September, 1927.

Forests, Deserts, and Prairies, 1910s.

Monday, April 13th, 2009

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From The Children’s Encyclopedia, published in the 1910s, and designed by “G.F. Morrell”. This illustrated map, ignoring political boundaries and man-made roads or railways, is pieced together from several smaller maps, depicting the various environments of the world. The caption of the maps engages in some scare-mongering, comparing the expanding deserts as proof our planet is moving towards being as arid as the moon, but it also describes deforestation as “a disastrous thing for a country,” recognizing that removal of trees and grasses can result in loss of topsoil and a collapse of the food-creating industries.

Dakota City, North Dakota, 1890s.

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009


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Greetings from scenic Dakota City, North Dakota! It took a little research to figure out what the cartographer was going off of, but the issue may be the result of lazy mapmaking. The full-sized map comes from the Harmsworth Self-Educator, a British encyclopedia from the 1910s. On closer examination, it’s odd to see a river called the “Yenne” running curling around the eastern half of the state — that is actually the “Sheyenne River”, which had at some point lost the first part of its name. The mapmaker who produced the map during the 1890s was copying off a map about 40 years older. “Dakota City” was a small settlement, just north of the Sheyenne/Red River confluence about ten miles north of Fargo, north of Harwood’s current townsite, established in the 1850s. According to Origins of North Dakota Place Names by Mary Ann Barnes Williams, “In 1895, one log cabin stood at the crossing of the Red River, just opposite LaFayette, Minn., on the Dakota side…known as Dakota City.” That one lone log cabin was occupied in the 1860s by “Monsieur Marchaud, a French Canadian, his Chippewa wife and twelve children,” according to Seat of the Empire by Charles Coffin. Dakota City, its neighbor Lafayette, and numerous other small townsites never succeeded in reaching actual town status, disappearing well before this map was published.

Cold War Wind Patterns, 1963.

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009


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What does this map show? It relies on the wind patterns of an average spring day, in that particular decade. That decade was the 1960s, and about the biggest worry to be carried on those spring winds: fallout. This map projects fallout, if an “enemy” were to drop 3,000 megatons on various military, industrial, and civilian targets at the same time, both ground detonations and air bursts. From the Saturday Evening Post, 23 March 1963.

Orthographic Ireland, 1910s.

Thursday, March 12th, 2009


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“Bird’s Eye” view of Ireland, an orthographic map of the Irish Isles. From The Book of Knowledge, 1910s.

Chicago and Northwestern Railroad, 1977.

Friday, January 30th, 2009

Map of the towns serviced and tracks used by the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad, effective as of 1 August 1977. Scanned from a small centerfold in the railroad’s timetable booklet.

Climate Map of North America, N.D.-Centric, 1929.

Monday, November 10th, 2008

Saying “North Dakota is the center of North America” is a factual truth; just outside Rugby N.D. is a monument to that fact. What’s more remarkable is the interpretive turn: the map paints North Dakota as the baby bear’s porridge of our continent. West is Too Dry, north is Too Cold, east is Too Wet, and south is Too Hot. North Dakota meets in the middle, and is thus the perfect place to live, right? I’m a fan of the state, you know, but we’re actually in a position that gets all of the above: deadly droughts, destructive floods, sub-zero winters and 100°+ summers. It seems the cartographer who drew the map was mistaking us for Hawaii. I know, it’s an easy mistake to make, but it’s an over-simplification of what North Dakota’s climate is like.