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Making Digital Maps

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Jason,

 

The more I think about it, the more I like the idea of producing modern maps of the old routes. I used to think it would be fun, but I just never had the time or the motivation to do it.

 

When I did the Hypotenuse, I followed the Pikes Peak Ocean to Ocean in parts of Kansas, using a 1926 guide. I was frequently “frustrated” because I had to do the conversion of the route myself, and I didn’t really have the time on that trip for lots of missed turns. I’m thinking most people don’t have the least desire to try to follow a 1926 guide, or a 1917 Automobile Blue Book on their summer vacation, but some might get a kick out of taking the old road using a modern map.

 

We often get the question here, “Where can I get a map?” and the answer is seldom as easy as buy the “Lincoln Highway CD.” In collaboration, we have the time, resources, and skills to map just about any vintage route in America, and the knowledge to convert it to a route on a CD, and to produce and even publish paper or digital maps and guides.

 

So, maybe some of us could combine our efforts. Who might be interested? Anyone want to discuss it further? This may be a good “winter” project for some of us.

 

Just musing……

 

Keep the Show on the Road

 

Dave

 

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So, maybe some of us could combine our efforts. Who might be interested? Anyone want to discuss it further? This may be a good “winter” project for some of us.

I would love to help. I really enjoyed making the modern turn-by-turn directions of the Madison State Road.

 

I guess we first need to pick a road or two and then figure out what we want to produce.

 

Chris

 

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I would love to help. I really enjoyed making the modern turn-by-turn directions of the Madison State Road.

 

I guess we first need to pick a road or two and then figure out what we want to produce.

 

Chris

 

Chris, Jason,

 

In the most simple approach we would create the route using Delorme Street Atlas or TOPO USA, then burn the route file on a CD. In fact Delorme once had a sharing site based on that “model.”

 

I’m assuming that Delorme would have some copyright interests, but if the overlay required the user to buy Delorme Street Atlas or Topo, I’m thinking they would be OK, with due credits, etc.

 

The software will also produce a printed map package of strip maps, etc, which Delorme might let you market in some form…I don’t know.

 

Of course I would look first at the Lincoln Highway CD. I see no reason to stumble through a discovery process when someone has already done it.

 

I would start with something like the Pikes Peak Ocean to Ocean where you have association published guides from the 1920’s for the whole route. The Midland Trail does also.

 

I wouldn’t get too fancy with alternate routes over time. Pick a year (eg 1926) and do it. If you wanted to embellish it, add alternate routes later.

 

I think that you can add photos to the map, which also means you can add old ads, etc.

 

We might get AR interested in producing or marketing the product.

 

More thoughts…..?

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

Dave

 

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I know this will sound a bit defensive but I do want to stress that I know absolutely nothing about the quality or even the form of the Lincoln Highway CD being offered by the LHA. In another thread I said that "This could really be a good thing..." and I fear that may have been misinterpreted or read as "This is really good". Maybe it is good. Maybe it's useless. I'd really like to know more about it or hear from someone that's used it. It may very well be the ideal model for digital maps or it could be a simple line drawing at a detail hiding resolution. I certainly don't want to discourage creating digital maps or routes. I think it's a great idea. But I do want to discourage anyone from thinking that I've offered up the LHA CD as the model for such projects.

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In the most simple approach we would create the route using Delorme Street Atlas or TOPO USA, then burn the route file on a CD. In fact Delorme once had a sharing site based on that “model.”

I do not have any DeLorme software, and after doing a brief search of reviews for their 2009 edition, it doesn't sound like a great investment. I would much rather "draw" the route over the roads in Google Maps and have it accessible to everyone over the Internet, or find some other way to generate and share a route.

 

When I am in the car, I use iNav iGuidance on my Windows Mobile PDA, which has a superb interface, but I'm not sure you can create a pre-defined route with that.

 

Chris

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Love this idea and the discussion. I'm in the same boat as Chris -- would rather do this in a way accessible to anyone, such as via Google Maps. jim

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I know this will sound a bit defensive but I do want to stress that I know absolutely nothing about the quality or even the form of the Lincoln Highway CD being offered by the LHA. In another thread I said that "This could really be a good thing..." and I fear that may have been misinterpreted or read as "This is really good". Maybe it is good. Maybe it's useless. I'd really like to know more about it or hear from someone that's used it. It may very well be the ideal model for digital maps or it could be a simple line drawing at a detail hiding resolution. I certainly don't want to discourage creating digital maps or routes. I think it's a great idea. But I do want to discourage anyone from thinking that I've offered up the LHA CD as the model for such projects.

 

Denny,

 

Put your mind at ease! I didn't think you were an expert on the LHA CD! :rolleyes:

 

I discussed it briefly a couple of years ago with the Association president and I think they were using a Delorme base. No matter. I am not assumimg anything, but I do believe they would produce good stuff, and provide some useful "hints."

 

I have done Delorme maps before and their tools are pretty good. So blame the thought on me. :P:)

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

Dave

 

 

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Put your mind at ease! I didn't think you were an expert on the LHA CD! :rolleyes:

I really do feel better. ^_^

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Love this idea and the discussion. I'm in the same boat as Chris -- would rather do this in a way accessible to anyone, such as via Google Maps. jim

It looks like Google Earth has some KMZ files that can store routes and points of interest, etc., to be viewed with Google Earth, which is free. I downloaded some sample KMZ files and tried them with Google Earth and they look pretty good. You can play back a route, and the view skims along the countryside, pretty interesting.

 

Maybe we should start with the Michigan Road?

 

Chris

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When I followed the Old 61 between Memphis and Blytheville last summer (and one of these days I should put that on my road web site which I've sadly neglected) I used a combination of Google Earth, a 1926 Automobile Blue Book and Microsoft Streets and Trips.

 

It was interesting that from the 1926 starting point in Memphis up to turning off U S 70 in West Memphis onto Missouri Street (the old 61 route before they tied it to the interstate) the milage figures in the Blue Book matched my odometer - to the 10th. And that was starting on 2nd street in downtown Memphis because Main is closed to vehicle traffic for about 8 or 10 blocks.

 

The Blue Book told me that Old 61 made a sharp right turn, then almost immediately made a left turn under the railway, going north, while the modern route veered to the west. Google Earth found that land mark - it is so abrupt a turn it stood out on Google like a beacon.

Once we got into that area the milage markers in the Blue Book began to go away because, like 61 south of Memphis, the towns are now mostly a cross-road in the middle of nowhere. I'm going back over the route sometime and see where I end up at the indicated milage markers given in the Blue Book.

 

Hudsonly,

Alex Burr

Memphis, TN

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My Bad….I did what I urge others not to do….provide solutions before we have defined purpose and objectives.

 

I stand by my view that Delorme is the superior vehicle for producing usable maps. It includes many annotation and drawing tools, and an excellent base that scales well. And it can be output in CD or printed form, scaled to many sizes and detail levels. It also links very well to GPS systems. I have used their digital products for about 10 years, and others as well, so I claim some knowledge.

 

But those who favor the also excellent and highly valued (I love it…for different reasons) Google Earth, have a telling point…FREE. As such it makes it easy for members to get on board.

 

Before we choose the a project and the software, we need to discuss what our purpose and objectives are, and how we will operate. Here are some of my questions. Add more and answer those where you have an opinion:

 

I suggested early on that Jason and wife (or others) might make a buck. Is that an objective? For me it isn’t a factor, but it may be for others. If none of us care, and some member or visitor takes our work and turns it into a salable product, will we all still smile? We need to be clear or there is lots of room for anger, bad feelings, and the like.

 

Who is the audience? Members, visitors, AR subscribers, the world? Are they vacationers with casual interest, or road geeks, or…?

 

Are the purposes to inform concerning directions, history, artifacts, attractions, then/now…or what?

 

How will it be used? Pre trip planning, on route in motels, in the car, in conjunction with GPS, photo geotagging….?

 

How and where will people get a copy? Related….what is the form, paper, CD, website….?

 

What are the criteria for choosing a road / project? Popularity, geographic location, novelty, historic interest, potential size of audience, member interest, access to needed vintage resources for directions, available images/ads …..or?

 

That should give us something to chew on. Add a question or answer them.

 

Then we need to discuss how we organize....by road section, by teams, by the resources we have, etc. But that after we know what we want to do.

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

Dave

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It looks like Google Earth has some KMZ files that can store routes and points of interest, etc., to be viewed with Google Earth, which is free. <...>Maybe we should start with the Michigan Road?

 

I am easily charmed by any idea that starts with the Michigan Road!

 

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My Bad….I did what I urge others not to do….provide solutions before we have defined purpose and objectives.

 

Dave, I think you're asking the right questions. I always lean toward "information should be free" in cases like this. Doing things for the greater good and all that. And I would be miffed if somebody took that and made a profit on it.

 

I think, however, there is room for a free offering and a pay offering that uses a superior vehicle for producing usable maps!

 

Peace,

jim

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Dave, I think you're asking the right questions. I always lean toward "information should be free" in cases like this. Doing things for the greater good and all that. And I would be miffed if somebody took that and made a profit on it.

 

I think, however, there is room for a free offering and a pay offering that uses a superior vehicle for producing usable maps!

 

Peace,

jim

 

 

Jim,

 

As usual, I'm with you on this. One suggestion would be that we use Google Earth as a collaborative tool, open to anyone...for free. Then if someone wants to move it over to say Delorme and produce CD's and hard copy, and sell it....I'm OK with that.

 

But we all have to start with that agreement….public domain, no intellectual property rights, no ownership of the “source code,” freeware…we are only having fun…but anyone can make hay while the sun shines with the products.

 

What say ye others?

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

Dave

 

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I am reading with interest the comments about a cooperative creation of modern maps of the old trails/highways. As some of you know, my wife and I have been working for several years to research and write about the Yellowstone Trail, the "Good Road from Plymouth Rock to Puget Sound," 1912-1930. A major task for me has been to determine and then map the exact route of the YT across the Nation in reference to modern routes. It is a fascinating task. A good share of the results can be found at www.yellowstonetrail.org, although the maps might be hard to find and print out as they are county by county and we have hundreds of corrections and additions to make.

 

I first determined the old route through the use of old maps (especially the old AAA strip maps) and Blue Books and the like and YT Association maps and articles in newspapers and anything else that we could find. For what it is worth, here is the process I then used to create to create the maps. For most of them, I drew the old routes on my computer-based Delorme maps, decided on a scale (a frustrating task because it is always too large or too small in any one area), copied the maps to the clipboard, opened them in Corel PhotoPaint (same as Adobe PhotoShop), resampled them to yield 4 miles to the inch, and saved the result to a jpg file. Each one was then imported into CorelDraw (a vector drawing program) on a "layer". I then traced the major roads, towns, streets, lakes, rivers, etc on higher layers. Then I drew the YT route and added road/street names on the next layer. Most of the maps you will find on the web site show the YT as the top layer as a yellow line bounded by black. Newer ones show the YT as a wide grey "shadow" under the modern roads. (I'll discuss that if anyone wants to, but the reason takes too much writing for now.) Then the Delorme map area is "turned off" never to be seen again. This avoids all copyright and royalty questions. The problem is that each county takes eight to sixteen hours of intense work. They print out nicely and can be changed to jpg files or anything else for a web site or for printing.

 

You can understand that the idea of some sort of collaborative effort is extremely appealing to me, but for the life of me I have no idea how to accomplish it. It just takes quiet individual slave labor. And decision-making. And creativity. And more labor. I would be happy to explore other approaches such as using Google Earth to communicate the route to interested people. But my primary goal is to publish detailed route maps of the YT TOGETHER WITH its history and stories, simply because too few people know about the YT and would not be interested in following the route without some knowledge about what it was like in 1920.

 

Note that the Mobridge (SD) Tribune has published a guide to the YT(using our detailed maps) in the Dakotas and part of Minnesota as a give-a-way. Also, we (the Ridges) are working with American Road to produce a similar tourist give-a-way for Wisconsin. It will have those modern maps of the old route. The developing economic situation my kill the idea, though. Regardless, some sort of Wisconsin Guide with the kind of maps you are looking for will appear on our web site within a year.

 

Keep up the ideas and we will see what we can do.

 

Money? Well our own efforts for the YT are aimed at finding a way to having our research and publishing expenses reimbursed through sales or whatever. We have no expectation of making money. And cooperative efforts for the common good are acceptable! Now what?

 

John Ridge

 

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For most of them, I drew the old routes on my computer-based Delorme maps, decided on a scale (a frustrating task because it is always too large or too small in any one area), copied the maps to the clipboard, opened them in Corel PhotoPaint (same as Adobe PhotoShop), resampled them to yield 4 miles to the inch, and saved the result to a jpg file. Each one was then imported into CorelDraw (a vector drawing program) on a "layer". I then traced the major roads, towns, streets, lakes, rivers, etc on higher layers. Then I drew the YT route and added road/street names on the next layer.

This sounds very similar to the way that I make maps. I mainly use Adobe Illustrator as the vector drawing tool. I am glad to hear that the time it takes you to make one is very similar to the amount of time that it takes me to make one. I had thought that maybe I was just a little slow... It is very time-consuming. I'm still proud of a map I did of Crawfordsville, Indiana now 15 years ago.

 

I do think we need to determine a purpose and intended outcome before we determine the best technology to produce it.

 

Chris

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Who is the audience? Members, visitors, AR subscribers, the world? Are they vacationers with casual interest, or road geeks, or…?

 

Are the purposes to inform concerning directions, history, artifacts, attractions, then/now…or what?

 

How will it be used? Pre trip planning, on route in motels, in the car, in conjunction with GPS, photo geotagging….?

 

How and where will people get a copy? Related….what is the form, paper, CD, website….?

 

What are the criteria for choosing a road / project? Popularity, geographic location, novelty, historic interest, potential size of audience, member interest, access to needed vintage resources for directions, available images/ads …..or?

 

 

Question 1: I think the audience would be limited, but would be a mixture of most of these groups.

 

2: As I still do not use GPS or take a computer on vacations, I would be one who would use it in preplanning, and be looking over my map during the trip.

 

3: I think that internet or CD copies would work allowing buyers/users to print their own copies. Maybe hardcopies would work if they were to be distributed to businesses along the route.

 

4: I think a popular route such as Route 66 or the National Road would be best for a first trial as it would help see what the market would be, could get funding from advertisers, and would be good from the historical approach even for those who would not be able to travel the route.

 

I would see that a basic route instruction, with some land marks that remain being highlighted would be a good first approach, and then more bells and whistles being added if the interest warrants the effort.

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First, there have been some excellent perspectives and insights shared on this subject thus far. Let’s keep ‘em coming.

 

Last night I decided to try out mapping the PPOO across Kansas. I had at my side a 1926 PPOO guide and a 1921 Automobile Blue Book (the 1926 ABB didn’t show the PPOO in Kansas).

 

I was able to quickly map perhaps 80% of the route with considerable confidence. (I admit Kansas may not be the best example because of the relatively undeveloped area surrounding the PPOO, and its straight roads…thus it is easy to interpolate a route.)

 

It is my humble view that with such tools as I used, you could map perhaps 70- 80% of a route in a state in a short time (say 5 to 10 hours). Staying with this very unscientific sample of one, I think we could produce a 75% -80% mapping of the PPOO across the United States in perhaps 100 hours of effort.

 

I also believe that the next 10% would take another 100 hours and the last increment perhaps many times that long, and some on the ground observations. My point is that a complete mapping would be an enormous undertaking (just ask John), even if it was based on a single year, but a partial mapping can be done rather quickly.

 

All I produced was a line highlight along the sections of the route that were evident from the sources I was using. It was fun. Sadly this morning I closed the application without saving the file!!! But no loss, as it will be very easy to redo.

 

What I have (or had) is very interesting to me, and I think it might be to any traveler. The PPOO went through lots of small Kansas towns no longer on the modern highway. It sort of jogged back and forth to reach each town. No great surprises there, but taking even a sample of the “jogs” would add to a vacation trip. You don’t have to travel every last alignment to taste the old road.

 

That is what I see as one important value of mapping old routes. You don’t have to do what I do and crawl under fences to walk an isolated alignment! Just travel any segment, or travel several segments of the old oad, as you follow the modern road the rest of the time.

 

I happened to do this in Kansas when I was doing the Hypotenuse Trail, and it led me down some fascinating stretches of the PPOO, and through some small towns along Main Street I would have never seen on the modern highway.

 

So my “audience” is not a road junkie like me who stops to photograph a pipe coming out of the ground where an old service station stood long ago. I would like to give my friends who have never heard of the Midland Trail, or the Pikes Peak Ocean to Ocean, or the National Old Trails…yada yada a map they can use to add interest to their modern road journey.

 

Does our newest poster…Sierra Fox…. know that Westgard Pass and old US 395 are part of the famed Midland Trail? I bet he would know if he had one of our maps! And imagine his joy :rolleyes: when he realizes he is traveling in the tire tracks of the pathfinders! :huh:

 

Enough musing for this morning….

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

Dave

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First, I'm all for a cooperative old route mapping effort. :) I don't mean to be negative at all, but I know what effort it takes and I know how difficult productive cooperative action is! But some of the ideas presented here appear realistic, assuming the technical stuff can be found, understood, and agreed on. Like tracing routes on Delorme.

 

About the time it takes to map a given segment: I would like to divide the problem into three Steps. First is determining the route, second is setting up to produce shareable maps, and third is the actual production of distributable maps.

 

Dave's report of mapping the PPOO across Kansas appears to fall into Step 1. My experience with the Yellowstone Trail would support his conclusions for stretches of the YT along what is now US 212 in Minnesota, for example. Those same conclusions would be extraordinarily optimistic for the YT between Mobridge, SD and McLaughlin, SD. That was an ill-mapped Indian reservation with the YT following a wagon trail with no built roads. And then the map produced by the YT Association had a mile missing at some unknown place and a "generalized" line near the Missouri river. And the Missouri was damned to flood out miles of the old route, so existing roads were relocated. An no sign of the original route now remains is some areas. It wasn't until we spent time at the National Archives that we found a useful map to rather accurately locate the route and determine the remaining existing roads it followed for part of the way.

 

But Step 1 is a reasonably doable step, and I will volunteer to prepare the route of the YT from "Plymouth Rock to Puget Sound" simply because I have reasonable information already ready. If, that is, Steps 2 & 3 are such as to make it a reasonable task.

 

Part 2 is worth brain-storming about. I like the idea of marking the route on a Delome map and saving it is some distributable form. Even better would be Google Earth. Google has a much better attitude about supporting efforts of individuals. Part 2 must be set up to be a piece of cake. Publishing the route in print format with driving instructions, comments and historical notes is something else. Alice and I will work on that (as we have been) state by state for the YT as we can for publishing. Might even finish some of it. Another matter that needs to be considered. Either Delorme or Goodle Earth allow the recording of enough detail to be accurate and useful. Printing out copies to use "on the road" is another matter. Three miles to the inch is often sufficient. By many little areas need greater detail. Printing out any length of route can be very consuming of paper and ink. And neither Delorme nor Google appear to have a way of printing out "blowups" of limited areas. Just food for thought.

 

Part 3, the actual production, is what I was reflecting on in my previous note. The actual drawing in a form that could be used for either display on the web or in printed format -- after the exact route is known -- takes the 8-16 hours per about 40 miles. And then, of course, a better way of doing it becomes apparent and you do it all over. :angry:

 

Anyone have more good ideas/specifics for Part 2??

 

Dave: are you aware of the PPOO book researched by Harold Meeks and published after he died? That might have the PPOO route nailed down.

 

John R.

YtTrailman

 

----------------------------------------

 

First, there have been some excellent perspectives and insights shared on this subject thus far. Let’s keep ‘em coming.

 

Last night I decided to try out mapping the PPOO across Kansas. I had at my side a 1926 PPOO guide and a 1921 Automobile Blue Book (the 1926 ABB didn’t show the PPOO in Kansas).

 

I was able to quickly map perhaps 80% of the route with considerable confidence. (I admit Kansas may not be the best example because of the relatively undeveloped area surrounding the PPOO, and its straight roads…thus it is easy to interpolate a route.)

 

It is my humble view that with such tools as I used, you could map perhaps 70- 80% of a route in a state in a short time (say 5 to 10 hours). Staying with this very unscientific sample of one, I think we could produce a 75% -80% mapping of the PPOO across the United States in perhaps 100 hours of effort.

 

I also believe that the next 10% would take another 100 hours and the last increment perhaps many times that long, and some on the ground observations. My point is that a complete mapping would be an enormous undertaking (just ask John), even if it was based on a single year, but a partial mapping can be done rather quickly.

 

All I produced was a line highlight along the sections of the route that were evident from the sources I was using. It was fun. Sadly this morning I closed the application without saving the file!!! But no loss, as it will be very easy to redo.

 

What I have (or had) is very interesting to me, and I think it might be to any traveler. The PPOO went through lots of small Kansas towns no longer on the modern highway. It sort of jogged back and forth to reach each town. No great surprises there, but taking even a sample of the “jogs” would add to a vacation trip. You don’t have to travel every last alignment to taste the old road.

 

That is what I see as one important value of mapping old routes. You don’t have to do what I do and crawl under fences to walk an isolated alignment! Just travel any segment, or travel several segments of the old oad, as you follow the modern road the rest of the time.

 

I happened to do this in Kansas when I was doing the Hypotenuse Trail, and it led me down some fascinating stretches of the PPOO, and through some small towns along Main Street I would have never seen on the modern highway.

 

So my “audience” is not a road junkie like me who stops to photograph a pipe coming out of the ground where an old service station stood long ago. I would like to give my friends who have never heard of the Midland Trail, or the Pikes Peak Ocean to Ocean, or the National Old Trails…yada yada a map they can use to add interest to their modern road journey.

 

Does our newest poster…Sierra Fox…. know that Westgard Pass and old US 395 are part of the famed Midland Trail? I bet he would know if he had one of our maps! And imagine his joy :rolleyes: when he realizes he is traveling in the tire tracks of the pathfinders! :huh:

 

Enough musing for this morning….

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

Dave

 

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Dave: are you aware of the PPOO book researched by Harold Meeks and published after he died? That might have the PPOO route nailed down.

If Meeks had the route nailed down, it sure didn't make it to the book. I have the book and it is a rather disappointing collection of his notes with the only maps being from the 1925 PPOO guide.

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Put your mind at ease! I didn't think you were an expert on the LHA CD! :rolleyes:

I remain a non-expert but I'm no longer completely ignorant. Here's why.

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