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Interview With a Modern-Day Independent Mapmaker

Stashed in: Awesome, Maps!, Maps

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I had no idea there are still independent mapmakers left, like this guy who makes maps for hikers and mountain bikers!

Wow he's been doing it for 30 years! That's really cool. 

I had no idea there are independent map makers too.

Google reportedly has over 1,000 full-time employees and 6,000 contractors working on its digital maps.

So it’s easy to forget that detailed maps can be made by just one person, and that paper maps aren't a thing of the past: They are extremely helpful to anyone navigating without a cellular signal, and specialized maps can contain information, such as hiking trail junctions or topography, that can make trekking safer. Tom Harrison is a cartographer based in San Rafael, California who has been making and selling his own maps since the 1970s. His maps are made for hiking, backpacking, and mountain biking in the parks and wilderness of California. I talked to Harrison about how he collects information and makes his maps, and why he doesn’t hire anyone to help him. A lightly edited transcript of our conversation follows.

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