The ‘Lost Forty’: how a mapping error preserved an old-growth forest

A 19th-century surveying mistake kept lumberjacks away from what is now Minnesota's largest patch of old-growth trees.

The surveying team's map from 1883 (left) and the actual lay of the land (right). The area colored light blue was erroneously marked as part of the lake.

Credit: U.S. Forest Service via Dan Alosso on Substack and licensed under CC-BY-SA
  • In 1882, Josias R. King made a mess of mapping Coddington Lake, making it larger than it actually is.
  • For decades, Minnesota loggers left the local trees alone, thinking they were under water.
  • Today, the area is one of the last remaining patches of old-growth forest in the state.
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Catacombs of Paris: The city of darkness finds its new raison d'être

Ancient corridors below the French capital have served as its ossuary, playground, brewery, and perhaps soon, air conditioning.

Excerpt from a 19th century map of the Paris Catacombs, showing the labyrinthine layout underground (in color) beneath the straight-lined structures on the surface (in grey).

Credit: Inspection Générale des Carrières, 1857 / Public domain
  • People have been digging up limestone and gypsum from below Paris since Roman times.
  • They left behind a vast network of corridors and galleries, since reused for many purposes — most famously, the Catacombs.
  • Soon, the ancient labyrinth may find a new lease of life, providing a sustainable form of air conditioning.
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This map is alive with the beauty of lighthouse signals

The unique light signatures of nautical beacons translate into hypnotic cartography.

At night, the rims of the North Sea flicker and flash with a multitude of light signals to guide ships to safety.

Credit: Geodienst – Lights at Sea
  • Many of the world's 23,000 lighthouses feature a distinct combination of color, frequency, and range.
  • These unique light signatures help ships verify their positions and safeguard maritime traffic.
  • But they also translate into this map, visualizing the ingenuity and courage of lighthouse builders and keepers.

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The Christian church so holy that Muslims hold its keys

Six denominations share the Holy Sepulcher, but not all between them is peace and love.

An Armenian priest circles the Edicule, which marks the place where tradition holds Jesus was buried. The structure is located straight under the dome of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

Credit: Emmanuel Dunand via AFP / Getty Images
Strange Maps
  • The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is not just the holiest site in Christianity; it is also emblematic of the religion's deep divisions.
  • As the map below shows, six denominations each control part of the church, with only some parts held in common.
  • Each "territory" is jealously guarded and sometimes fought over. The church's keys are held by… two Muslim families.
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How Europe will beat China on batteries

Map shows Europe's imminent Great Leap Forward in battery cell production

Germany is one of the hotspots for Europe's future gigafactory landscape.

Credit: CIC energiGUNE
Strange Maps
  • China produces 80 percent of electric vehicle batteries.
  • To achieve battery independence, Europe is ramping up production.
  • And the U.S.? Action is needed, and quick.
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How the Yazoo Land Scandal changed American history

Without the now-obscure land investment affair, Georgia might have been a "super state."

Four companies were set up specifically to acquire vast tracts of land at low, low prices in the Yazoo Lands.

Credit: New Georgia Encyclopedia via public domain
Strange Maps
  • Few people today are familiar with the Yazoo Land Scandal, which broke in the mid-1790s.
  • Yet it sent shockwaves through American public life, influencing politics, law, and even geography.
  • Without it, Georgia could have been a "super state" — and the Trail of Tears might not have happened.
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