Maps are a powerful tool for representing an area visually or graphically; they symbolically depict relationships of objects in the area. As part of the Maine Community Heritage Project, Farmington had the privilege of working with the Center for Community GIS to bring the rich perspective of maps to the exploration of Farmington's history. Maps were selected as a medium to not only show the spatial distribution and spatial influences of certain historical categories, such as early settlement sites or locations of school districts, but also to provide a geographic context of how Farmington’s landscape has changed throughout its history. In a very basic sense, maps help us analyze and understand history in a geographic, environment-specific format.
The maps were created using Google Earth, GIS (Geographic Information Systems) and GPS (Global Positioning Systems) software. Members of the project conducted fieldwork where they went around Farmington to historic sites, such as homesteads or cemeteries, and marked each location. These locations were then transferred in a GIS program and later into Google Earth to create the finalized maps. Additionally, four historic maps of Farmington were overlayed into Google Earth and made transparent to show the changing landscapes from 1794 to the present day. Google Earth also has the ability to show altitude, and viewers can rotate the landscape for a 3D view of the maps.
The following list is an inventory of the maps created during the initial MCHP project. All maps were created by Tyler Duran, a UMF graduate and Educational GIS Specialist at the Center for Community GIS in Farmington.
JPEG Maps: These are static maps with pinpoints depicting the location of sites in that category. Click on the title and the map should open in your browser. Click on the map and a larger version should appear. The base map shows Farmington in relation to surrounding communities, the county, and the state. All the other maps were built on the base map.
Interactive Google Earth Maps: These are interactive maps to be viewed in Google Earth, a free software package that allows you to zoom in or zoom out and see the world in a 3-D environment. When you click on these links, a file will be downloaded to your computer that you will need to open in Google Earth. Once opened, you will be able to click on pinpoints and learn more about that site. Some pinpoint sites have a photograph of what that site looked like in its heyday (when available), some have a photograph of what the site looks like now (if there is anything left in the location), and some do not have a photograph because none was available. It's possible to have more than one file open at a time, allowing you to explore the relationships between locations and environments. Explore the location of mills compared to water sources. Try to discern if a connection exists between school sites and cultural sites. NOTE: Some maps may not have very many sites on them individually, but in combination with other maps, you can gain insights into Farmington's history.
Historic Maps Overlayed in Google Earth: A feature of GIS software is the ability to "layer" maps. With these files, you can look at an old map of Farmington overlayed on top of the current satellite image of the town in Google Earth and compare and contrast. You can also overlay one map over another. Look for shifts in the Sandy River or changes in property lines over time.
"Paths" in Google Earth: Yet another feature of Google Earth is the ability to draw a path on a map to show specific directions to get from one point to another (or among multiple points). We have used it to create tours. You will see that these maps combine several of the other features of Google Earth seen in maps linked above.
- Walk Around Farmington -- The Town of Farmington has created a walking tour utilizing signs that point out the historical significance of eight different areas of town. This map shows the location of the eight signs, connects them in the intended order for the most efficient walking tour, and has photographs of the actual signage.
- Women's Heritage Tour -- What started as a class project over 10 years ago in an undergraduate history course at University of Maine Farmington was updated in 2008 in a graduate class designed to teach current teachers how to utilize the power of today's technology in their curriculum. There are no sources cited for the information and some locations have changed their name, but at the heart of the two class projects, you can learn some history and see the power of maps in the learning process.
- UMF Arboretum Trail -- First put together by a biology class at University of Maine Farmington, signs were posted at the base of plants and trees by Dr. Drew Barton and a walking tour was created. Students in EDU 221 in fall 2008 converted the color print brochure to this digital version of the Arboretum Trail.