The Hole in the Map

in The Sangamo Frontier

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print November 2006 | ISBN: 9780226514246
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226514239 | DOI:
The Hole in the Map

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The first true cartographic representation of what would become central Illinois was surveyed and drawn by Major Stephen Long in the late summer of 1816. The war had just ended, and Long's official assignment was to map the Illinois River as part of a reevaluation for the need to replace the existing Fort Clark, situated in what was still an important Native American locale. Not only was the resulting map the first accurate survey of that river, it was also the first to record the uplands of central Illinois, which had no obvious connection to a riverine route to Peoria. Instead, the map, which included a survey that extended over fifty miles east of the river, was probably also designed to better document the alternate route to Peoria. This alternate was the old trail followed by rangers during the war. Officially, the land office at Edwardsville could not begin surveying the lands crossed by the old trail, as they still belonged to the Kickapoo. The region surrounding the Sangamon Valley was now a hole in the map of the future state—still claimed by Indians, still largely unknown, and still dangerous to travel.

Keywords: Illinois River; maps; Major Stephen Long; Fort Clark; central Illinois; Peoria; Sangamon Valley; Edwardsville; Kickapoo

Chapter.  4993 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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