Be Careful When Reading Maps, They Might Lie on Purpose

When you look at maps, occasionally you will see something that you’ve never seen before. Case in point, the highlighted route on the attached map snippet.

1920 Rand McNally route of the Terre Haute-Indianapolis Scenic Route

This is a snippet from the Rand McNally 1920 Region 2 Auto Trails map. The yellow highlighted route is shown as #92, or the Terre Haute Indianapolis Scenic Route.

Yes, you read that right. Apparently, one, someone put together an Auto Trail Club to create a rambling, non-National Road, trail between Terre Haute and Indianapolis (not like that has ever happened before – ahem, Madison and Michigan Roads), or two, Rand McNally created the route out of the thin air to catch map copiers.

While I tend to lean toward reason one (and I am not sure why), there is solid evidence that reason two can be true.

Almost every map ever created is not entirely accurate. And no, I am not talking about moving a creek a couple of feet, or locating a town just a bit south of where it belongs.

The big print map companies, when they published their maps, inevitably placed on it a name and location that didn’t exist. This was a way to catch people copying maps. If Rand McNally “created” a town that then ended up on a Gousha map, guess what! Busted.

I used to have a very long list of such things…but it was on my other hard drive that “fall down and go boom.” I am working on recovering it…with mixed results.

This practice is less used today. Since most maps are digital, and based on satellite images, it’s harder to insert names to catch copiers. But, Google does use this practice, to an extent. They place “neighborhood” names on their maps…some of them are even used locally.

Now, back to the Terre Haute Indianapolis Scenic Route. I have been looking at it as a possible road trip. I can get close. Some of it was wiped out by the construction of Interstate 70. We’ll see. Anyone interested in coming along?

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