Point of Beginning

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March 1, 2004
Illinois celebrates Lewis and Clark; Kansas cartographer creates sesquicentennial map.

A local re-enactor kneels down beside a sextant exhibit at the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center. Photo compliments of VisitAlton.com

Illinois Celebrates Lewis and Clark

On Dec. 12, 2003, exactly 200 years after Meriwether Lewis and William Clark first arrived at Camp River Dubois, Ill., the state of Illinois symbolically re-welcomed the explorers and their Corps of Discovery with a grand commemoration known as "Twelve-Twelve Day."

Camp River Dubois was the official point of departure for the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Because of this important starting point in Illinois, the state's commemorative events and new museum are proudly reminding residents and visitors of the significance of Lewis and Clark. Chris Pearson, PhD, the Illinois state geodetic advisor, says "I think it is the most important stop along the trail. They [Lewis and Clark] called it the point of departure. I wish they would've called it the point of beginning"¦ We tend to forget that exploration was one of the first functions of early land surveyors. Lewis and Clark are, in a way, just a start to that activity."

Illinois, however, has not forgotten where the surveying expedition of the explorers began. At 10 o'clock in the morning on the bicentennial anniversary of Lewis and Clark's arrival, Dec. 12, 2003, the Twelve-Twelve Day celebration kicked off with a dedication ceremony. The Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center at National Heritage Trail Site #1, Hartford, Ill., was dedicated with a ceremony that included a choral presentation by almost 700 sixth graders, as well as speeches by historical experts on Lewis and Clark. The new center at the trail site replicates the Corps of Discovery's encampment at the River Dubois and features a 55' keelboat

Later in the afternoon of the 12th, more than 1,500 people gathered to watch a re-enactment of Lewis and Clark's arrival at the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. A small fleet of keelboats, known as a flotilla, headed up the Mississippi riverbanks, and the Corps of Discovery disembarked in Illinois. After landing, they were greeted by members of the Shawnee United Remnant Band and residents of Hartford, Ill., dressed in period costumes.

Festivities continued through the evening and the weekend. On the night of the 12th, the Lewis and Clark Community College in Godfrey, Ill., held a bicentennial program where a painting titled "The Shooting Match at Camp River Dubois" by historic artist Michael Haynes was unveiled. The next day, re-enactors re-created the shooting match depicted in the painting. Visitors were also invited to view aspects of Lewis and Clark's encampment that included meal preparation, roll call, personal gear care and cleaning, and fatigue duties.

Standing on the replicated keelboat, Illinois re-enactors bring the Corps of Discovery to life as they look at a compass from times past. Photo compliments of VisitAlton.com

Illinois National Signature Event Highlights Surveyors

The celebration of Lewis and Clark in Illinois is not over just because Twelve-Twelve Day has passed. When the frost disappears in May and the re-enactment of the Corps of Discovery again decides it it time to venture west, Illinois will host a National Signature Event to commemorate the departure of the expedition. To be held May 13-16, 2004, in Hartford, Ill., this will be the fourth event in a nationwide series of 15 events that began in 2003 and will conclude in 2006. More than 50,000 people are expected to attend the festival.

A few modern-day surveyors will be participating in the celebration to inform the public of Lewis and Clark's historical surveying role. Duane Weiss, PLS, chief of surveys for Lin Engineering Co. and Lyle Kruger, PLS, retired chief of surveys for a highway district of the Illinois Department of Transportation, will host a presentation on the surveying equipment of the early 19th century, complete with period costume.

"We will demonstrate equipment used in that time [including] tripods, compasses, a Jacob's staff or two, older transits and chains," Weiss says. "We try to cater to everyone. Whatever the age group is, we will be talking to them on their level. We try to talk to the kids and get them interested in surveying."

"We like to convince young people that history happened here," Kruger continues.

Weiss acknowledges that surveying today is very different from surveying in Lewis and Clark's era, but he stresses the significance of the explorers' skills. "[Like] most of the early surveyors, Lewis and Clark were accomplished scientists and mapmakers, and that's why they were chosen-they were learned in surveying skills as well as mapping and exploring," Weiss says. "They match up real well with modern-day surveyors."

To further commemorate Lewis and Clark's role as surveyors, The National Geodetic Survey (NGS) is currently coordinating with the Sangamon Valley chapter of the Illinois Professional Land Surveyors Association (IPLSA) to install and dedicate a large brass mark near the re-created Camp River Dubois. This dedication is scheduled for the final day of the festival, May 16. For more information on upcoming Lewis and Clark bicentennial events, call the event hotline at 800/224-2970.

Photo compliments of David Carttar, Lawrence Sesquicentennial Commission.

Kansas Cartographer Creates Sesquicentennial Map

David Carttar, a native of Lawrence, Kan., didn't appreciate his hometown until he returned to it after being in California for eight years. When he moved back, he decided to rediscover the place where he had been born and raised.

While rediscovering Lawrence, Carttar came up with the idea to share his love for the town with others by creating a sesquicentennial map. Carttar had the background and skills necessary for tackling the project; he was trained in geography and cartography at the University of Kansas and received his master's degree in city planning at the University of California-Berkley. Carttar made his map proposal to the Lawrence Sesquicentennial Commission in 2000. The commission agreed to print the map after Carttar had completed it, and he spent the next three years working on it. "It's dominated my life," Carttar said, and added that it was work he did "on weeknights when everyone else goes to bed."

Now the Lawrence Sesquicentennial Map, measuring 28 by 39 inches, is being sold for $19.95 at a local retailer. The map shows a topographical, bird's-eye view of the city founded in 1854.

Carttar explains that the main inspiration for the map were bird's-eye view lithographs from the 19th century. (Visit http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/pmhtml/ to explore the kinds of bird's-eye views that served as a major influence on the sesquicentennial map.) When he first began designing, he did not intend for the map to be 3D, but soon realized that a 3D bird's-eye view would be more powerful and compelling to viewers. It was an immense amount of work to get good quality output, but Carttar thinks it was worth it. He created a digital elevation model from U.S. Geological Survey records and fused it with a model made from 2 ft contours. Carttar says, "I ended up compiling the map in Adobe Illustrator after creating initial views in ArcGIS. I had to manually digitize every one of the streets in Illustrator."

Carttar researched and wrote one-sentence descriptions of historic sites to accompany the map. Photo compliments of David Carttar, Lawrence Sesquicentennial Commission.
In addition to his painstaking cartographic work, Carttar also carefully read and researched Lawrence's history. To show this history in the map, Carttar identified 242 significant historical sites and wrote short descriptions of each one. He also used five different shades of gray on the roads to represent five historical eras. "The idea behind that is-how do you show how a city has grown," Carttar said. "Although Lawrence was a collection of tents in 1854, by 1904 the entire county road network was platted out."

Revenue from the Lawrence Sesquicentennial Map will help pay for the city's celebrations this year and fund a new park in the town.

The map is available by mail order from the Raven Bookstore. Call 785/749.3300 for more information on ordering.