Forest Regions of Texas, 1947

    A Look Back: Mapping Texas Forest Regions in 1947

    Edwin Land unveiled the Polaroid Land Camera, Miracle on 34th Street made its Hollywood debut, and Howard Hughes piloted the Spruce Goose — a wooden flying boat — on its one and only voyage. And TFS made a map of the forest regions of Texas.

    This map, likely produced by then Information and Education Chief S.L. Frost, shows the extent and impressive variety of forest regions in Texas, from East Texas pine and hardwood to the mountain forests of far West Texas. It “represents the combined efforts of the U.S. Forest Service, the Soil Conservation Service [now Natural Resources Conservation Service], and the Texas Forest Service” and was featured in the September 1947 edition of Texas Forest News. The original map was hand drawn on a transparent sheet, which probably explains the watercolor effect of the colors.

    Using transparent sheets of acetate was a common cartography practice at the time. Mapmakers could draw different aspects of a map on different sheets and then overlay select sheets to show the desired information. This technique was used by cartographers through the 1990s. Though we have new methods of accomplishing this kind of work now, we still use the layering terminology today with computer-based mapping.

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    Rebekah Zehnder
    Geospatial Analyst
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