Oregon pride

No, I’m not talking about the University of Oregon Ducks playing in today’s Rose Bowl. (Though I’ll certainly be following the game to see how they do.) I’m talking about…cartographers.

Check out this opening paragraph from an article in Slate:

American mapmaking’s most prestigious honor is the “Best of Show” award at the annual competition of the Cartography and Geographic Information Society. The five most recent winners were all maps designed by large, well-known institutions: National Geographic (three times), the Central Intelligence Agency Cartography Center, and the U.S. Census Bureau. But earlier this year, the 38th annual Best of Show award went to a map created by Imus Geographics—which is basically one dude named David Imus working in a farmhouse outside Eugene, Ore.

The article is a great read for map geeks, as it illustrates exactly what about Imus’ map makes it so much better than the norm. (In a word: painstaking detail work, some 6,000 hours worth.) Apparently Slate’s recognition of Mr. Imus and his map has been a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it sent a tsunami of interested map shoppers to his web site. On the other hand, all of those shoppers crashed his site. (It’s still crashed as of this posting, but if you want to try later, go to Imus Geographics.)

It’s great to see another Oregon cartographer get national attention. A couple of hours’ drive south of Eugene is Raven Maps & Images, a small mapmaking company that turns out renowned maps of individual states, the US, the world, Mexico, and a lucky few national parks. I have a Raven Map of Oregon hanging on the wall above my desk, and it’s not just a map. It’s art.

In today’s world of digitalized maps and outsourced editing (I did not know that many of the big US companies outsource their detail work to India!), the small companies that make maps the old fashioned way deserve all the recognition they can get. I’m quite proud that two of the best are located in Oregon.


About Fletcher DeLancey

Socialist heathen and Mac-using author of the Chronicles of Alsea, who enjoys pondering science, politics, well-honed satire (though sarcastic humor can work, too) and all things geeky.
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9 Responses to Oregon pride

  1. M. says:

    Finally the link is working 🙂

  2. xenatuba says:

    We took a trip last year to Raven maps (I am from Medford) and discovered that they are a mail/net order business only…and still let us into their office. Their maps are art. We’ve got Oregon and California up in our workout room, and track our motorcycle trips on them. Beautiful! And I love Imus’s maps. And yes, I am a certified map geek.

  3. Paulo says:

    We have a few walls that would benefit from something pretty and useful hanging on them… Imus’ and/or Raven’s maps it will be. And a good pretext to drive down to Eugene and Southern OR.

    And… uh… congratulations to the Anatidae.


    • oregon expat says:

      🙂 No reason that a Castoridae affection should preclude happiness for the Anatidae. They’re all Oregonians!

      • Paulo says:

        I know, and I don’t even appreciate or watch “football” 🙂

        But our first friends from Oregon are OSU-Corvallis “folk” and I was severely reprimanded the first time I uttered “Go Ducks!” in their presence… which I don’t even remember why.
        So anyway… they (sort of) explained what the issue is (in my mind I made the FC Porto vs. benfica parallel) and made me promise to never, ever do it again. I keep my promises and I happen to like beavers.

        (I do secretly celebrate when an Oregon team wins, please don’t tell anyone. Unless it’s baseball and they’re playing against the SF Giants … Oh well. My sport affiliations were so much clearer in Portugal)

        • oregon expat says:

          Ah, I understand. Sporting is the team of choice in this household, though as a non-football person I keep forgetting and must be sternly reminded. As for Oregon teams…there are a lot of families harboring both Ducks and Beavers, and I went to both universities myself. Go Platypuses!

          • Paulo says:

            That’s brilliant! I’m going to start slowly pushing the Platypus allegiance. It could catch on as an Oregon symbol, ‘Alis volat propriis’ notwithstanding…

            But I think we all agree about the mighty Portland Timbers.
            Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would go to a “soccer” stadium in the U.S. and have to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t in Portugal or… England. There’s some serious fanhood here. Too bad the team’s colors are not bluer and whiter.

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