Language of Geography: 40 Engaging Facts About Maps

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26D-day Invasion Map

D-day Invasion Map

The map of Normandy used to plan the D-day invasion was smuggled into Allied headquarters as a jigsaw puzzle. The pieces were then reassembled to form the map.


27. Before the military conflict with the United States in the 1840s, the map of Mexico included all or part of Texas, California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming.


28. Captain James Cook created the first proper map of Newfoundland. In the process, Cook renamed sites like Belleoram from Bande l'Arier and Bonne Bay from Baya Ederra. Named three sites after himself Cooks Cove, Cooks Brook, and Cooks Harbour. Finally, at Unfortunate Cove he injured his hand.


29. Eratosthenes (276-194 B.C.) accomplished a lot of things during his lifetime. He was the first to accurately calculate and record the Earth's circumference, discover a method for finding prime numbers, explain the annual flooding of the Nile, coin the term "geography", and use longitude and latitude on a map.


30. During Hurricane Harvey, the National Weather Service had to add two new colors to the rain accumulation map as the old color key topped out at an amount of rain they never before thought would fall.


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31National Transportation Noise Map

National Transportation Noise Map

The National Transportation Noise Map is a very accurate color map of road and aviation noise in the United States.


32. A pulp and paper mill in Ontario was a Nazi POW camp during World War 2, and a captured navigator drew a map of the world by hand that is still there behind glass.


33. During World War 2, the US Government officially wiped the town of Oak Ridge, Tennessee off the map, which was a town of 75,000 residents. They also made it a state secret plus inaccessible to help further the Manhattan Project and the development of the Atomic bombs.


34. Belcher Islands are an archipelago in the southeast part of Hudson Bay, Canada. Before 1914, English-speaking cartographers knew very little about the Belcher Islands, which they showed on maps as specks, much smaller than their true extent.


35. The 1939 Michelin Guide to France was reprinted in 1944 for Allied military use, as its maps of the country were regarded as the best and most up-to-date of all available.


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36Sandy Island's Undiscovery

Sandy Island's Undiscovery

Sandy Island near New Caledonia was a non-existent island which was included on many maps and nautical charts, including National Geographic Society and Google Maps. It showed up on maps in the late 19th century, until 2012 when a ship "undiscovered" it. It was removed from French hydrographic charts in 1974.


37. It used to be the job of a ‘Road Scout’ to drive around the USA and constantly measure every road, grade, elevation, and distance and keep updating these road maps accurately every two weeks. They would drive enough miles in a year to make multiple trips to the moon.


38. Kansas was selected as a common reference point for mapping because it was near the center of the contiguous United States. The latitudes and longitudes of every other point in North America were based on its direction, angle, and distance. Surveyors eventually benchmarked 250,000 stations.


39. The seafloor sonar data obtained during the underwater search for Flight 370 gave scientists an unusually-large section of deep-ocean seafloor mapped at high resolution. This data revealed numerous subsea volcanoes and evidence of large submarine landslides which were not previously known.


40. St. Brendan's Island is a fabled paradise island off the coast of Africa originating in 512 A.D., where Brendan claimed the sun never set. The island appeared in various maps and accounts for the next 1200 years.

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