For the love of Maps...
I have loved maps since I was a half-pint. Not that I’m all that tall now, but back when I was 8 or so to about 12, I remember being enamored by them. I was one of those kids that ordered weather maps from the back page ads in Boys' Life Magazine.
We often went to the local library during that time and I was fascinated to look over maps by early explorers of the Northwest like Lewis & Clark, Captain Vancouver and Cook, etc.
Out of that experience I made maps about our adventures in the woods across the street from our home. I detailed the trails, where our tree houses were, where our rafts were hidden at the big pond, where our stashes of pop, candy, and tools were kept, and where our super secret emergency meeting place was (by the old abandoned mining shaft deep in the blackberry thickets) just in case we got into trouble with the railroad detectives because we were messing around where we didn't belong down by the tracks.
Right out of the movie American Graffiti, growing up in our little neighborhood of Earlington, on the west side of Renton, it was still rural. We didn’t have but a couple of street lights and no sidewalks. In fact, along side our streets were open ditches and neighbors raised rabbits and chickens.
Who would of thought years later I’d work for a title company? It wasn’t long before I ended up in customer service and worked with maps all day long. I loved it.
One of the things that took me years to appreciate was how well King County maps were done. The KC Assessor’s maps were beautifully detailed and as my local knowledge grew to other counties I learned how special and unique that was.
I'm very familiar with the KC Assessor's map below. I did a lot of research on portions of it for a client several years ago who wanted to develop it. Property can appear to be so simple and obvious when your standing on it, yet when researching it you can find yourself in a quagmire trying to sort out the changes and legal descriptions as title passed from owner to owner over the years.
On the left 3rd is a relatively newer plat, a division of Olympus, in Newcastle, Washington (mid 80’s to mid 90’s). Yet note within that space KC LLA and a number following. That means a King County Lot Line Adjustment was recorded. Below that, note the diamond shape. That stands for a Government Lot and it translates to some kind of anomaly existed either because prior surveys weren't accurate or terrain made it impossible to determine.
Just to the right you see the darker parallel lines running vertical with “pipe line” in between. This is a major water pipeline that runs through this area underground and then underwater in Lake Washington to supply fresh water to Mercer Island.
Note the overlapping dark lines that curve to the right with “Pacific Coast”... This is just one of the many old abandoned railroad right of ways in the area that once served the Newcastle coal mines. Then there’s the “NC BLA” which is a City of Newcastle boundary line adjustment, and if you’ll notice SE 84th Way and on the very right (Newcastle Parkway) you’ll find notes “not to scale”. That translates to these roads are so old and their exact locations changed so many times over the years by everything from weather, spoken agreement, land barons, use by horse and buggy and the consequences of terrain and a path of least resistance for ingress and egress, to now being within an incorporated modern city and becoming a major arterial thoroughfare that it’s boundaries have been determined, "it is what it is because it is where it is."
For the love of Maps. To the initiated, they tell quite a story.