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Mapping And Imagination In The Great Basin

A Cartographic History

Richard Francaviglia

Publication Year: 2005

Published by: University of Nevada Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-xii

Maps and Meaning

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pp. xiii-xx

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1. Comprehending the Great Basin

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pp. 1-12

To wayfarers in the early twenty-first century, the Great Basin is one of those seemingly empty spaces that once punished the traveler but are now easily crossed unless one makes a mistake or miscalculation. Moving miles high above the region in an airplane, passengers who bother to look down see a series of dark, rugged mountain ranges that alternate with white salt flats. ...

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2. The Power of Terra Incognita: 1540–1700

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pp. 13-30

In 1540, Sebastian Münster stood back as he put the finishing touches on a work of art—the beautiful map he titled Tabula Novarum Insularum, quas Diversis Respectibus Occidentalis & Indianas Vocant (fig. 2.1).Working in Amsterdam, Münster and his associates prepared this map using the latest technology—a woodcut design that required them to carve the original image in reverse. ...

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3. Maps and Early Spanish Exploration: 1700–1795

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pp. 31-42

Mapping, like exploration, does not proceed evenly over large areas. Although portions of what we would later call the Southwest, especially New Mexico,were rapidly explored, mapped, and even settled in the 1600s, the Great Basin was not. That discrepancy is attributable, for the most part, to two factors: the Rio Grande Valley, which served as a corridor for Spanish infiltration, and the distribution of Indian peoples, who attracted the Spaniards like a magnet. ...

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4. In the Path of Westward Expansion: 1795–1825

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pp. 43-68

Sometimes maps reveal leaps in knowledge or leaps of faith. Among the most remarkable depictions of the Interior West is that found on William Winterbotham’s 1795 North America (fig. 4.1). This fascinating map appeared in Winterbotham’s popular American Atlas. At this time, demand had increased for such books of bound-together maps that featured portions of the world in considerable detail.Winterbotham’s North America represents a milestone in popular printed maps. ...

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5. Demystifying Terra Incognita: 1825–1850

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pp. 69-96

The early-to-mid-nineteenth century marked a time when cartographers scrambled to try to depict the topography and hydrology of the West accurately. Despite their efforts, however, considerable speculation was common, and errors frequent. Consider Anthony Finley’s interesting but conflicted Map of Western America (fig. 5.1). ...

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6. Maps in the Sand: 1850–1865

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pp. 97-122

Explorers helped demystify the Great Basin by the mid-1840s, but the pace of demystification dramatically increased as westward-moving pioneers traversed the region shortly thereafter. News and stories about the pioneers’ exploits were eagerly awaited by those who remained in the East as the drama of western settlement took center stage. ...

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7. Filling in the Blanks: 1865–1900

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pp. 123-152

By the mid-1860s, political realities and divisions further shaped both popular perceptions and the mapping of the Great Basin. Before that time, the region had been part of one larger political entity— for example, Upper California (until the 1840s), Mormon Deseret (late 1840s to the early 1850s), or broadly, Utah Territory (in the 1850s and early 1860s). ...

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8. Maps of the Modern/Postmodern Great Basin: 1900–2005

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pp. 153-186

The twentieth century brought phenomenal changes to the Great Basin. Several factors, including the development of the automobile and air travel, were to revolutionize both society and place here as elsewhere. Sites associated with the defense industry flourished, and cities like Las Vegas, Salt Lake, and Reno boomed. And yet many traditional activities begun in the nineteenth century, such as ranching, persisted. Mining also maintained its strong presence in the Great Basin. ...

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9. Comprehending Cartographic Change

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pp. 187-196

On February 1, 2003, the predawn darkness over the southern Great Basin was briefly interrupted by a streak of light that flashed from west to east at 20,000 miles per hour. To those who saw it, the reentry of the space shuttle Columbia seemed like a shooting star, but this was normal for a spacecraft entering the outer layers of the atmosphere. Unbeknownst to these observers, however, the Columbia was in trouble ...


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pp. 197-208


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pp. 209-216


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pp. 217-222


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pp. 223-231

E-ISBN-13: 9780874176407
Print-ISBN-13: 9780874176094

Page Count: 256
Illustrations: 11 b/w photos, 79 maps
Publication Year: 2005

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Cartography -- Great Basin Region -- History.
  • Great Basin -- Discovery and exploration.
  • Great Basin -- Geography.
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