looking for feedback on maps:

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looking for feedback on maps:

Post by elminero67 » Tue Dec 07, 2010 12:34 pm

My name is Duane, and I am an addict. My addiction is old maps. Seriously though, Im struggling with maps and wanted to see if I could get input from others on this site about what they would like to see in a publication: I've come to realize that it is a challenge to produce quality maps that depict the topography and historical context on a book size format. Google Earth and aerial photographs are great but are (usually) more recent imagary, and have copyright questions. 7.5 and earlier 15 minute topos are not scaled to be reproduced as an 8.5 x 11" or other publication size format, and often lack railroad and industrial details, i.e. sidings.

Question #1) What railroad and history books have others read and think have outstanding maps-and why?

Question #2) Which of the following illustrations/maps do you prefer for an article or book-and why?
Capote copy.jpg
Above. This is a psuedo-topographic map that I created as an illustration
This is a detail of the actual 1907 Geological map
CCCCRRIIIdone copy.jpg
Using Google Earth/ 1907 map overlay and acrylic paint I camp up with this illustration as one possible solution. As I mentioned, I'm looking for feedback on which works and which doesnt, as well as what can be done to improve them. Thanks, Duane

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Andrew Brandon
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Re: looking for feedback on maps:

Post by Andrew Brandon » Tue Dec 07, 2010 6:18 pm


To answer question one: I am partial to Signor's maps for general route maps. Otherwise, I prefer to just work off ICC maps when I can. I did like the maps included in Farrell's Nevada Central book and the offerings in Joe Dale Morris' SP book. In each case these are clear maps that are well drawn and easy to read. These maps however lack topographical features and are really simple trackage maps.

I like the last map personally, while the others convey the relevant data, the one you did in acrylic really stands out. The acrylic adds a touch of artistic flare which gives it that warm home-brewed feel, it is the sort of map one would expect attached to the subject matter at hand. While it isn't as straight forward as a track layout map, this one is much nicer on the eyes and inspires the imagination, these reasons are why I tend to like the Signor route maps. As far as a general route map, this is the one I'd go with if it were my choice. For technical maps I'd go for something black and white similar to the other maps I mentioned above, simple black and white showing track arrangement and so forth.
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Re: looking for feedback on maps:

Post by CraigH » Wed Dec 08, 2010 4:53 pm


To start, I'm a map freak! It probably doesn't help that it's one of the areas I'm trained in.... My thoughts parallel Andrews in general.

I love geologic maps but most of your readership won't be intimately familiar with them. The rock data will add visual confusion (and the symbology changes with the intended language). It may be appropriate only for helping establish why mines were located where they were but I'm not sure if that's valuable enough.

For Railroading my favorites are the Engineering Maps that list the curve data and tangent bearings and distances connecting the curves. They also show culverts, bridges, property lines, benchmarks, and other pertinent info. Not commonly available! What they lack is topographic info. The engineering data will be lost on most people though. Who the heck understands mile-posts, degrees, minutes, and seconds of curve and direction, arc length, or bearings except Surveyors and Civil Engineers?

In the U.S., Sanborne Maps list structural data relevant to fire insurance. Hugely valuable for understanding towns and building placement. Downside is that items like trackage are not spatially (dimensionally) accurate and they don't cover remote places outside of towns of large mills, etc. Basically your first example image. Adding the shaded relief and vegetation tinting adds that much more information, it really helps put the road into a geographic context.

For book purposes in my mind the ideal would be combining topographic mapping with clean and clear trackage overlays. Adding important structures would be highly desirable as you've done. Your first example image approaches the ideal for most readers/students. Add the tinting elements of the third example and you've imparted a vast amount of visual data and created a geographic context for the road...and that's exactly what's missing from most railroad books!

On the first and third examples all I would do is clean up/sharpen the line-weights for the trackage and structures. Get rid of the tie crosshatching (unneeded visual complexity).

A winner for sure!

Craig Hoefer

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