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Creating a map for a river system or a long road route has its problems as they are essentially linear. At the moment I am working on a map of the Werribee river from its source. So I have to devise a way of creating that information in a rectangular space and making it plausible. In this instance I have drawn on the cartographic legacy of a literal ribbon map. The image here details the Mississippi River running for more than 2300 miles through the heartland of America, more or less straight from north to south. Representing the river in any detail presented a challenge for mapmakers wishing to provide maps to those wanting to travel along the river. In 1866, the problem was solved by producing this Ribbon, called the Father of the Waters, a 2-inch wide & 11-foot long map that spooled up into a carrying case via a hand crank. A single sheet was cut into strips, attached end-to-end, mounted on linen, and then rolled inside a wooden, metal, or paper spool. The portability of the map was crucial as it was intended for business travelers, steamboat navigators, and tourists. (Think Gone with Wind).


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