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Ways of Seeing: Maps of Missouri at Jefferson College Library: Some Maps

A look at maps and surveys related to the early settlement of what is now Missouri by Europeans and Americans.

Mississippi Meander

Image: Geological investigation of the alluvial valley of the lower Mississippi River.Ancient Courses: Mississippi River Meander Belt: Cape Girardeau, Mo.-Donaldsonville, LA. H.N. Fisk. 1944 Army Corp of Engineers. North Latitude: 37° 16' 0" N (37.2667) South Latitude: 28° 54' 0" N (28.9000) East Longitude: 88° 45' 0" W (-88.7500) West Longitude: 92° 34' 0" W (-92.5667)

Image Source:Ancient Courses: Mississippi River Meander Belt: Cape Girardeau, Mo.-Donaldsonville, LA

Representation of the Mississippi River's courses in 1765, 1820, 1880 and 1944. 

"Fisk’s maps represent the memory of a mighty river, with thousands of years of course changes compressed into a single image by a clever mapmaker with an artistic eye. Looking at them, you’re invited to imagine the Mississippi as it was during the European exploration of the Americas in the 1500s, during the Cahokia civilization in the 1200s (when this city’s population matched London’s), when the first humans came upon the river more than 12,000 years ago, and even back to before humans, when mammoths, camels, dire wolves, and giant beavers roamed the land and gazed upon the river." Jason Kottke The Marvelous Mississippi River Meander Maps

Township 42 Range 6 East of the 5th Principal

Image:An illustrated historical atlas map of Jefferson County, Missouri, 1876. Brink, McDonough & Company, 1876. 

Image Source: The State Historical Society of Missouri, Public Domain.

"The Public Land Survey System (PLSS) was created by the enactment of the Land Ordinance of 1785 and the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. These two ordinances provided for the systematic survey and monumentation of public domain lands with the intent of transferring these lands to private citizens through sale. To this day the PLSS forms the basis for the delineation of lands and transfer of ownership in Missouri (The Public Land Survey System (PLSS), 2009). The system as laid out in the laws called for a rectangular system of Townships six (6) miles square arranged in a grid of ranges and divided up into 36 sections of 640 acres each. The Township and Range lines were to be surveyed first and the Townships divided up into section starting in the south east corner." Missouri Department of Natural Resources

Topgraphic Map Symbols--Printable Guide

Contemporary Meandering Mississippi

Image:USGA/NASA Meandering Mississippi, Collection: Earth as Art 3,Source: Landsat 7,Image Dimensions: 7800 x 8400, Date Taken:

Image Source: USGS 

Though not of the section shown in the 1944 plate, this image shows a contemporary landsat view of a part of the Mississippi further south. It provides an idea of how newer technologies shape the ways we see.

Small, blocky shapes of towns, fields, and pastures surround the graceful swirls and whorls of the Mississippi River. Countless oxbow lakes and cutoffs accompany the meandering river south of Memphis, Tennessee, on the border between Arkansas and Mississippi, USA. The "mighty Mississippi" is the largest river system in North America.


A Certain Piece of Land


Image Source:

Jefferson County Plat Book

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