Project A: Summary of Project A: Decoding the Map

For this map analysis assignment, I received a topographic government issue map of Tenino, Washington and its surrounding areas. The history of the map itself and the agency that made it was interesting, yet sparse. There isn’t a lot of information about the map because the Defense Mapping Agency (the creators of this map) was dissolved and restructured in 1996.

I analyzed the contents of the map based on Denis Wood’s  10 Cartographic Codes listed in Rethinking the Power of Maps.


A. Intrasignificant
1. iconic [Rivers, lakes, pipelines, railroads, parks, neighborhoods, landmarks, highways, roads, schools, airports, valleys, mountains, elevation changes, regional boundaries, churches, watermill, windmill, wind pump, mines, quarries, control station, woodlands, vineyards, swamps, waterfalls, and rapids.]
2. linguistic [English, Hanaford Creek, Prairie Creek, Monarch Mine, Scott Lake, Deep Lake, Church of God, Olympia Municipal Airport.]
3. tectonic [Scales are detailed and prevalent. The scale is listed at 1:50,000. The elevation is measure in meters from 0 to 5,000; yards from 0 to 5,000; Statute Miles from 0 to 3; and Nautical Miles from 0 to 3. The main contour intervals are every 20 meters with supplementary lines every 10 meters.
4. temporal [1975]
5. presentational [simple, printed, mostly green for forested areas, blue for bodies of water, map at center/ top, keys along the bottom and edges. Nothing on the back, thin off white paper, perhaps a very thin gloss/wax/plastic coating]

B. Extrasignificant
6. thematic [scientific, accurate, official
7. topic [Tenino, Washington topographic map]
8. historical [It shows what schools and churches and things have been around since 1975.]
9. rhetorical [Official, accurate, governmental.]
10. utilitarian [road maps, calculating distance, hiking, planning construction, stealthy missions: red-light readable]

 C. Side notes:

  1. The symbols they use are very small which seems to imply that it is not meant as a sightseeing/tourism map.
  2. There are a lot of scales with instructions to teach people to navigate and calculate magnetic north versus grid north versus true north.
  3. The map says it is made by the Defense Mapping Agency Topographic Center in Washington D.C.
  4. You can tell that it is part of a series of interconnecting maps because it is labeled sheet “1477 IV” and there is a subordinate section labeled “adjoining sheets” that shows where is fits in between 1478 III and 1477 III
  5. Hand written notes on side relate to reading azimuths, calculating angles, and properly record grid coordinates.
  6. Arrows at the top of the map tell you how far it is to Olympia, Washington (the capitol).



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