Some time in the late 1980s, Dr. Robert Miles, retired Purdue University Professor of Civil Engineering, found himself rifling through a Dumpster bin in Louisville, Kentucky. He was rescuing a set of historic atlases that had been unceremoniously thrown out and left for dead. Miles retrieved the unusually oversized monographs (~3x2') and donated them to the Purdue Libraries Map Collection. The collection is additionally curious in that the maps published in this set represent an early success in the developmental history of using aerial photography to generate topographic maps. More about the history behind these maps and their source can be found on the original materials page.
In the summer of 2006, volunteers from the Wabash and Erie Canal Park scanned the first of 4 volumes (Wabash River, Terre Haute to Logansport) and asked if the Libraries could help provide public access to the resulting scans. But we wanted to not just provide public access, but to do so in a rich, intuitive, and most importantly useful environment. Naturally, we hope you find it useful and we welcome any requests or questions.
...we wanted to not just provide public access, but to do so in a rich, intuitive, and useful environment
What You'll See
The processing of the original books' pages into a georeferenced, digital dataset suitable for this kind of online environment was not altogether intense. You can read about it on the data page, where you can also learn how to get access to individual images and other contextual information. This page also explains our decision to leave in the image collars (non-image borders around each tile).
Who are we and why are we doing this? The short story is that we're librarians at Purdue University's EAS Library and we were asked to. A slightly longer story, including a list of individuals responsible, can be read at the who's responsible page.