Skip to comments.The First Satellite Map of California (1851)
Posted on 11/09/2022 6:38:03 PM PST by SunkenCiv
[subtitle: The incredible (and indeed untrue) story of President Taylor's APE]
It’s 1849, and a Gold Rush is drawing thousands of American prospectors to California, which was snatched from Mexico only a year earlier. The lay of the land is still poorly surveyed, the risks and resources of the terrain as yet largely unknown.
So US President Zachary Taylor initiates a top secret government programme to speed-map the last piece in the puzzle of America’s Manifest Destiny...
Predating the launch of Sputnik by over a century, President Taylor’s task force, consisting of civil engineers and frontiersmen, constructs a rocket in the Californian wilderness, equips its payload with the most powerful camera known to humankind at the time – endowed with revolutionary colour-capturing capacity – and launches it skyward from the slopes of Mount Whitney.
The President’s Astro-Physical Expedition (APE) put California’s local flora to good use, hollowing out a redwood tree and stuffing it with gunpowder to create a giant firing tube. An incredible concatenation of good fortune conspires to bless Taylor’s APE with success: the redwood cannon does not disintegrate, the projectile survives its violent skyward thrust, and the camera mounted inside its body happens to be in the right angle for a shapshot of the mid-19th century Californian landscape.
Of course this is not what happened. But it’s a charming, steampunky backstory for this map, which purports to be a satellite image of California, taken in 1851. Both the map and the backstory were created by Mark Clark, a geographer who lives in California’s Central Valley  and is fascinated by its past aquatic history...
(Excerpt) Read more at bigthink.com ...
Didn’t know they satellites hovering around in space back in 1851. Now I know how far back those UFOs go.
Mono Lake would have been bigger and Lake Winnemucca would have been in this picture in 1851. Still, pretty cool!
At least its not blocking the path of that Bullet Train..........
Instead of a big marshy swamp/lake, we now have farmland. Farmland can feed a lot of folks.
And a whole lot less malaria and other swamp/marsh diseases.
What water issues CA has is mostly due to having to feed the bloat that is LA, and aggressively bad management by the water bosses in the state gov.
When my son announced that he wanted to become a civil engineer, I told him I was glad, I had known many engineers who were never civil.
Great story. Reminds me of the line in the Liberty Valance movie, that when the legend becomes fact, print the legend.
I think it would be more believable to use a time machine in the storyline than satellites.
“Lake Bakersfield” would have been an outdoor paradise.
Never heard of Lake Tulare before, and appreciate your post all the more. Modern Californians sure talk a lot about the environment, yet few have done so much to destroy it.
Los Angeles and Riverside far too green, that was desert back then.
I was trying to figure out how you would hollow out a giant redwood tree while keeping it intact, and how they timed the camera shutter and reduced blurring as the camera would be moving quickly even with a parachute.
LOL But it’s a charming, steampunky backstory for this map, which purports to be a satellite image of California, taken in 1851
I live near Mono Lake it wasn't much bigger then than now. 40 feet or so deeper. Hundreds of thousands of years ago, yes.
At least in 1946 they airplanes.
We obtained previous Meskin territories fair and square through war and payment of $15 million to settle all interest.
See: Treaty of Hildago.
Lots of strike-slip faults. One day, there will be a big one. After their abortion vote yesterday, probably sooner than later. Throw in Lassen and Shasta.
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