Perhaps it was the fact that I’ve crossed several state lines recently. More likely it was because I’ve spent several late nights wide awake and coughing. Being sick can make you think weird things, but for some reason the following aphorism popped into my head…
There is a town called “Greenville” in every state. However, Tennessee is the only only one that spells it as “Greeneville.”
I don’t even remember where I heard that the first time. My first intent was to take this at face value and create a Google Earth KML file showing the location of each town called Greenville. (Did I mention that I’ve been sick lately?) That turned into a challenge to test the validity of this statement, and learn a bit more about Greenville, where ever it might be found. Continue reading “How Many Greenvilles?”
After a spring full of multiple paddling trips, some on consecutive Saturdays, we finally had a weekend to ourselves with no paddling trips planned. Well, actually, I could have gone with my Lowcountry Unfiltered friends to Little Tybee Island on Saturday, but Laura and I really needed a weekend to ourselves at home. Even so, … Continue reading Local Paddling Venues
I hadn’t realized how far behind the times I’ve been with Google Earth until I ready on Frank Taylor’s blog that there is an update out for a version beyond the one I’m using. That means I’m two versions behind. Version 6.2 makes some changes to the overall appearance of the map, with a “pretty … Continue reading Google Earth and Google Plus
While we were on our photo trek to McCormick Houston and I were scouting paddling locations. We both liked the Clark Hill area, and we were intrigued by the Little River branch, especially where it starts at Calhoun Mill. One of the comments on that post was from Kirk Smith, who pointed me in the … Continue reading Little River Blueway
I have been enjoying going through the old maps in the Robert Mills 1825 Atlas of South Carolina. However, last weekend’s photo trek to Old Pickens Court House brought out some problems with relying solely on Mills’ maps to find ghost towns. The maps are too early to catch many towns that developed after 1825, only to fade away by the time of the Great Depression. Never fear, though. There are other online resources that can cover later time periods.
The University of South Carolina’s online digital library has an extensive collection of historic topographic maps of the state. The maps cover from 1888 to 1975, but not all quadrangles are available for this time period. For example, the collection contains three maps for the Abbeville quadrangle – 1900, 1918, 1943. The 236 maps in the collection include a mix of 30 minute, 15 minute, and 7.5 minute projections. I haven’t checked to see how extensive the state coverage is, but I’m sure there are parts of the state that are not covered. Continue reading “A Matter of Maps”
I was talking with my brother Houston sometime back about my Ghost Towns project, and he suggested that in addition to using the GNIS historical data, we should look at old maps of the state to see what towns might have been listed. I agreed that it was an excellent idea, so I set off in search of the one resource I knew would have everything we wanted – Robert Mills‘ 1825 Atlas of South Carolina.
A native of Charleston, Robert Mills was the quintessential Renaissance Man, along the same lines Thomas Jefferson. Mills studied architecture first in Charleston, then later in Philadelphia. Anyone familiar with South Carolina history is aware of Mill’s contributions to South Carolina – the many court houses and civic buildings designed by him. Perhaps, though, he is most famous for his designs for buildings in Washington, D. C., including the Washington Monument.
“…the General Assembly adopted resolutions looking to the preparation of a map of the state, showing a separate map of each district thereof. In 1818 an appropriation of $9,000.00 was made toward procuring such a map, and in 1819 a like amount was appropriated for the same cause.”
-from the Introduction to the 1839 reprint of the Mills Atlas.
In 1820 Mills was appointed commissioner for the Board of Public Works for South Carolina, and was tasked with creating the atlas. He commissioned surveyors to create the separate maps for the then 27 districts in the state. He then personally rescaled the surveyors’ work for inclusion in the atlas, and added a legend reflecting the new scale. He also edited place names, adding or omitting as needed. The legend of each map bears the original surveyor’s name and notes the map was “improved for Mills’ Atlas, 1825.”
Every time one of Laura’s family visits from the West Coast we get the inevitable comment about there being a church on every corner. The comment is valid. Even as a native I’m surprised when I turn a corner to find a large Greek Revival structure I’d not spotted before – and that doesn’t even include the store-front churches that pop-up just about everywhere.
So, I guess my friends here in the Pacific Northwest have the same reaction when I comment about there being a coffee shop on every corner. I’m stating the obvious. After all, this is the home of Starbucks.
I have yet another location-based obsession, possibly even several more. First it was fire towers, then old schools, and lately it’s been ghost towns. You would think I’d have enough abandoned historic stuff to go traipsing about the countryside to photograph and document. But wait! There’s still more!
While visiting Laurens County recently we stopped by Stomp Springs, and this past weekend we found the Shivar Springs bottling cisterns near Shelton in Fairfield County. That got me thinking about mineral springs, and where these might be located.
A 2004 Department of Natural Resources report by H. Lee Mitchell (PDF) gives some of the background of the springs and their locations. The report mentions the historical significance of springs, as well as the development of resorts and bottling facilities. These dot the state, but most are located inland of the Fall Line, as indicated by the map in the report (which I’ve imported into Google Earth as an overlay.)
The Geographic Names Information System(GNIS) is one of the greatest boons to those of us who love maps. It’s an extensive database of place names created by the US Geological Survey, and includes cities, towns, communities, crossroads, schools, churches, mountains, rivers, etc,. etc. Basically, any place in the US that has a name is in the database. The database includes coordinates, county, and other basic information about that location.
I’ve used and referenced the GNIS data on this blog many times. The raw data is freely available for download, and I have downloaded just the South Carolina data to create my South Carolina Place Names application. If you’ve ever used a GPS or looked up a location on an online mapping system, you’ve encountered GNIS data. Unfortunately, some companies use this freely available data to flood the web with crappy websites that pollute search results and interfere with the ability to do any meaningful online research about an area.
Here an example…
Yesterday my sister Glynda and I drove through the communities of Stomp Springs and Renno on our way back from visiting our parents in Prosperity. It’s a historical area, and we snapped a few photos and looked at the ruins of the old towns. When I got home I wanted to find more information about the area, so I did a quick Google search for Renno, SC. Here’s the first page of results. You’ll want to click to enlarge…
Most of the pages are for “hometown locators” and various real estate companies. There were even multiple websites for various cable companies. This goes on for multiple search pages – basically a spamming of the Internet based on the GNIS data. Continue reading “GNIS Dilemma”