David Lynch Draws a Map of Twin Peaks (to Help Pitch the Show to ABC)

Twin Peaks Map

“How did this even get on the air?” Both the die-hard fans and bewil­dered haters asked that ques­tion about Twin Peaks, David Lynch and Mark Frost’s sur­re­al tele­vi­sion dra­ma that famous­ly aired on ABC prime­time in 1990 and 1991. That such an uncon­ven­tion­al vision — and one real­ized, at least through­out the first sea­son, with such thor­ough com­mit­ment — ever made it to the main­stream air­waves now seems like a his­tor­i­cal achieve­ment in and of itself. So how, giv­en the stul­ti­fy­ing rig­ors of the enter­tain­ment indus­try, did Lynch and Frost actu­al­ly sell this pack­age of cryp­tic dreams, back­ward speech, small-town sav­agery, a mur­dered home­com­ing queen, and damn fine cher­ry pie?

First, Lynch drew a map. Know­ing that no TV exec­u­tive would under­stand Twin Peaks with­out under­stand­ing Twin Peaks, the fic­tion­al Wash­ing­ton town which gives the sto­ry its set­ting and title, he drew what you see above. Nigel Holmes includ­ed it in his out-of-print Pic­to­r­i­al Maps, com­ment­ing that “the peaks of the title, and the town they name, are clear­ly vis­i­ble as white-topped moun­tains ris­ing out of the mod­eled land­scape.

By cre­at­ing a sense of place, Lynch made the town all the more believ­able. A straight­for­ward map would have been dull by com­par­i­son and might have sug­gest­ed that there was some­thing intrin­si­cal­ly inter­est­ing about the geog­ra­phy of the place. What was much more impor­tant to con­vey was the mood of the sto­ry, and it’s nice­ly cap­tured in Lynch’s quirky draw­ing.”

The book also includes a quote from Lynch him­self, on the util­i­ty of the map: “We knew where every­thing was, and it helped us decide what mood each place had, and what could hap­pen there. Then the char­ac­ters just intro­duced them­selves to us and walked into the sto­ry.” As any Twin Peaks fan will notice, the map iden­ti­fies a host of loca­tions ref­er­enced in the show, such as White Tail and Blue Pine moun­tains (the peaks them­selves), Ghost­wood Nation­al For­est, and Lucky High­way 21. But “can you locate Spark­wood and 21, One-Eyed Jack’s and The Great North­ern?” asks fan site Wel­come to Twin Peaks. And if the much-dis­cussed 21st-cen­tu­ry Twin Peaks revival comes to fruition, will it dust off this trusty ref­er­ence doc­u­ment and revive the askew but deep sense of place we (or at least some us) savored the first time around?

Relat­ed Con­tent:

David Lynch’s Twin Peaks Title Sequence, Recre­at­ed in an Adorable Paper Ani­ma­tion

Play the Twin Peaks Video Game: Retro Fun for David Lynch Fans

Ele­men­tary School Stu­dents Per­form in a Play Inspired by David Lynch’s Twin Peaks

Col­in Mar­shall writes else­where on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, the video series The City in Cin­e­maand the crowd­fund­ed jour­nal­ism project Where Is the City of the Future? Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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