Vintage Geological Maps Get Turned Into 3D Topographical Wonders

What good is an old-fash­ioned map in the age of apps?

One need not be a moun­taineer, geo­sci­en­tist, or civ­il engi­neer to get the topo­graph­i­cal lay of the land with a speed and accu­ra­cy that would have blown Lewis and Clark’s minds’ right through the top of the lynx and otter top­pers they took to wear­ing after their stan­dard issue army lids wore out.

There’s still some­thing to be said for the old ways, though.

Graph­ic design­er Scott Rein­hard has all the lat­est tech­no­log­i­cal advances at his dis­pos­al, but it took com­bin­ing them with hun­dred-year-old maps for him to get a tru­ly 3‑D appre­ci­a­tion for loca­tions he has vis­it­ed around the Unit­ed States, as well as his child­hood home.

A son of Indi­ana, Rein­hard told Colossal’s Kate Sierzputows­ki that he found some Grand Teton-type excite­ment in the noto­ri­ous­ly flat Hoosier State once he start­ed mar­ry­ing offi­cial nation­al geospa­tial data to vin­tage map designs:

 When I began ren­der­ing the ele­va­tion data for the state, the sto­ry of the land emerged. The glac­i­ers that reced­ed across the north­ern half of the state after the last ice age scraped and gouged and shaped the land in a way that is spec­tac­u­lar­ly clear…I felt empow­ered by the abil­i­ty to col­lect and process the vast amounts of infor­ma­tion freely avail­able, and cre­ate beau­ti­ful images.

(The gov­ern­ment shut-down has not dam­aged the accu­ra­cy of Reinhard’s maps, but the U.S. Geo­log­i­cal Survey’s web­site does warn the pub­lic that the effects of any earth­quakes or oth­er force majeure occur­ring dur­ing this black-out peri­od will not imme­di­ate­ly be reflect­ed in their topos.)

(Nor are they able to respond to any inquiries, which puts a damper on hol­i­day week­end plans for mak­ing salt dough maps, anoth­er Hoosier state fave, at least in 1974…)

As writer Jason Kot­tke notes, the shad­ows the moun­tains cast on the mar­gins of Reinhard’s maps are a par­tic­u­lar­ly effec­tive opti­cal trick.

You can see more of Reinhard’s dig­i­tal­ly enhanced maps from the late 19th and ear­ly 20th-cen­tu­ry, and order prints in his online shop.

via Kot­tke/Colos­sal

Relat­ed Con­tent:

View and Down­load Near­ly 60,000 Maps from the U.S. Geo­log­i­cal Sur­vey (USGS)

Down­load 67,000 His­toric Maps (in High Res­o­lu­tion) from the Won­der­ful David Rum­sey Map Col­lec­tion

The His­to­ry of Car­tog­ra­phy, “the Most Ambi­tious Overview of Map Mak­ing Ever Under­tak­en,” Is Free Online

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  See her onstage in New York City in Feb­ru­ary as host of  The­ater of the Apes book-based vari­ety show, Necro­mancers of the Pub­lic Domain. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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