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From: Blue Moon Network Administrator root AT net DOT bluemoon DOT net
Date: Wed, 20 Jun 2001 09:16:18 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Ohio Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps
"marion29-49.jpg" - image/jpeg, 182308 bytes, 1024x768 (256c)

I was able to get to the Ohio Sanborn Maps from

using a Port Clinton, Ohio library card.

Once you select a participating OPLIN Library and a valid card number for that
library you get the Reasearch Database Descriptions page and at the bottom is
the Sanborn Maps. Click on that link and you are taken to a simple search
keyword page where you can enter a location name such as cleveland or
fostoria and additional keyword modifiers using AND, OR and NOT to narrow the

When you click View Map on search result it uses a CGI to interface with MrSid
technology to display a map page from the Sanborn books. There are gadgets to
change the size of the window up to 1024x768 and the "zoom percentage" from 12
to 100 percent.

The good news: It is incredibly detailed showing individual tracks and
switches, water towers, maintenance buildings and most structures down to
about 15' or 20' in size. There are usually a good range of time spans to
choose from between the 1800's and the 1950's and some up to the 1970's so you
can compare changes over time, but beware of lazy cartographers! I wouldn't
count on the dates being authoritatively exact for reference, ue it as an
indicator rather than a gauge. Many updates were simply revisions of
earlier maps. Attached is a 1929 to 1949 1024x768 map of the Marion, Ohio
Union Station area at the 25% zoom level as an exapmle of the output. Most
scans were done very cleanly, they musy have had a load of students scanning
like mad all summer long, it had to have been a huge project!

The bad news: The interface is very primitive, the map areas are small as they
were scanned from pages out of Sanborn map books. Many location are VERY hard
to find unless you know nearby street indexes or you luck out and a "special"
keyword tips you off to the location. Many interlockings just aren't shown so
exact trackage arrangements can't be determined. Where there weren't any
buildings they usually used that area of the map for an inset. I tried to find
FS tower in Fostoria where 5 railroads crossed in very close proximity at one
time and every era had an inset covering the area around the diamonds. If you
want to stay at the 50% zoom level you have to religiously reset the zoom
factor every time you recenter the map. It always starts with a 640x400 map so
you have to reset the resolution after that map loads. To quickly locate
specific locations you really need a street map of the target area and
preferably one which shows address ranges. For modem users it can be a long
and tedious experience trying to find your specific target. If there's no
building close by then forget it, there probably won't be a map of that area.
The search interface appears to need work, I have had little luck searching
for phrases like "Marion & R.R." (AND search) even though "R.R." appears in
the descriptions of a whole slew of Marion maps. "place & depot" and "place &
station" works better in many cases. After spending a few hours poking around
for things I wish I had direct access to their files because I know I could
make a better search engine and more useful interface to their collection.
There is no provision for being able to immediately jump to adjacant maps, you
have to dive back into the search results and use guestimation to find the
next one. There's a lot of by guess and by gosh involved in finding what you
want sometimes. It takes some practice and still you will get frustrated here
and there.

Despite the caveats this is a fantastic resource for the prototype modeler as
it shows track layouts and structures in a period context. The maps are very
well proportioned and most are very clear and easy to read. I wish there were
New York and Pennsylvania versions of this thing! (sorry Jersey guys :) I
haven't even started on the Cleveland area yet, there are thousands of
Cleveland maps! "Records 1 through 45 of 7486 are displayed."

I am going to inquire at the library if it there is some way I can get a card
which "members of my club" can use to view the map collection so those of you
outside of Ohio can try this thing out, there are thousands of maps which are
interesting even if you aren't a midwesterner. I'm using it from Buffalo right
now, you do't have to be in Ohio to use it, you just need a valid OPLIN
library card.

It's a lot of fun and I'd like to thank Stephen Twarogowski for the link as I
hadn't gotten around to looking for it yet, I had planned on visiting the Port
Clinton Library to see about getting access to the collection, but this was
much easier!

I'll let the list know if I can cadge a card number we can all use to get to
the collection.


J. Henry Priebe Jr. Blue Moon President & Network Administrator - Blue Moon Internet Corp
V.90, X2 & K56flex - The Railfan Network


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