Old School Map Making


I was wandering through YouTube at work today (shhhhh…) and stumbled on this neat old Army training film that describes the steps required to make a paper topographic map, circa 1973. The steps in this movie really didn’t change for about 60 years, from the late 1920s to around 1990 or so.  In fact, not a whole lot if the equipment changed, either. Sure, there were a few improvements here and there – better materials, more accurate surveying equipment and better aerial photography cameras – but the basic steps remained pretty much unchanged.  Of course today it is all different; digital satellite imagery, GPS, LiDAR and desktop computers have fundamentally changed the mapping profession. But for now let’s celebrate the old ways, when men were men, theodolites didn’t have any electronic components and cartographers wore ties while they worked at their light tables.  This movie (broken into three parts by YouTube) was filmed mostly at the old Defense Mapping School at Fort Belvior, VA: Part I:

Part II.  Now, part II is interesting because I swear the soldier who is shown working at 5:40 is an old friend, Norm Price.  I first met Norm at Fort Lewis in in 1987.  Norm had been a Cartographic Technician warrant officer who recently converted to the new Terrain Analysis Technican field (MOS 215D) just before I met him.  If I remember correctly he entered the Army in the late 60’s, so it is entirely possible for young Specialist Price to have appeared in this film:

And Part III:

Enjoy!

– Brian

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