Monthly Archives: March 2015

Mapping Nebraska

The traveler who has lost his way doesn’t want to know where he is. What he wants to know is “where are the others?”
— Alfred North Whitehead

I’m mapping Nebraska: making a stitched, drawn and digitally imaged cartography of the state where I live. Locating myself. And the viewer. Trying to understand the place where I am.

Locator Map. 15' x 5'. Graphite on Tyvek.

Locator Map. 15′ x 5′. Graphite on Tyvek.

I began by drawing all of Nebraska—95 squares stitched together to form a 15-foot Locator Map. My map records physical features—lakes and rivers creeks—and geographical features —railroads, parks and towns—and all are to scale (1″ = 2.75 miles) and in their correct relative position. It’s as accurate as I can make it.

I created this map of Nebraska for some of the same reasons we’ve long used maps—to see where I am relative to the other places, to get a sense of my surroundings and to try to comprehend a whole I can not see. The Locator Map tells me about borders and boundaries—county lines and standard parallels and the extent of the Nebraska National Forest and how far, in relative terms, Antioch is from Ellsworth. It gives me a geographical overview. It lets me know, if I’m drawing the area around Gaunt Lake, that I’m north of Oskosh and East of Alliance, in Sheridan county.

Detail of Locator Map, Sections 38-34A and 39-42A

Detail of Locator Map, Sections 38-34A and 39-42A

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