Overview

Chronicles the difficulties encountered by George Davidson and others as they attempted to create nautical charts to complete the U.S. Coast Survey of the West Coast in the mid-nineteenth century.

Chronicles the difficulties encountered by George Davidson and others as they attempted to create nautical charts to complete the U.S. Coast Survey of the West Coast in the mid-nineteenth century.

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Coast Mappers

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Overview

Chronicles the difficulties encountered by George Davidson and others as they attempted to create nautical charts to complete the U.S. Coast Survey of the West Coast in the mid-nineteenth century.

Chronicles the difficulties encountered by George Davidson and others as they attempted to create nautical charts to complete the U.S. Coast Survey of the West Coast in the mid-nineteenth century.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times
Some younger readers will find that the detailed description of the how Cape Disappointment was charted is rough going; others, with an interest in science, may appreciate Morrison's willingness to plunge into complex subjects. — Eric Nagourney
Children's Literature
In a lively text, Morrison continues his interest in augmenting our knowledge of unusual sidebars to history. Previous titles researched the buffalo nickel, the role of the artist in Civil War-era newspapers, and the first reconstruction of mastodons. Here, he traces the work of George Davidson and his crew as they struggled to create the first accurate survey and map of the Pacific coastline in the 1850s. They faced all sorts of dangers from treacherous weather to siege by Macah Indians, loss of personnel, failure of instruments, and plain weariness. Using unreliable sea charts, carrying their heavy surveyors' instruments which weighed more than a ton, lugging a cast iron telescope to cliff heights to triangulate points for measurements, the three scientists and a small support group succeeded against all odds in mapping over three thousand miles of coastline. Morrison's informative and often beautiful paintings and accurate renditions of equipment and procedures make this a model of clarity in conveying to unknowledgeable readers the scope of Davidson's project. For instance, using a lead weight on a rope for soundings, a rowboat, and pencil and paper, the group created the first map of the sea floor's dangerous pinnacle rocks concealed under the ocean's surface in an age before GPS, sonar beams, and satellites. Sailors, high school students of maritime history, mathematicians, and the casual reader will all be interested in this carefully researched expedition and Morrison makes clear his methods and his debts in a not-to-be missed acknowledgment section. All and all, it's a beautiful treatment of a topic (like the maritime need for an accurate measure of longitude) unlikely to beaddressed in high school history books, but fascinating in its own right. 2004, Houghton Mifflin, Ages 11 to 14.
—Susan Hepler, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
Gr 5-7-In 1850, George Davidson was selected by the U.S. Coast Survey office to map America's Pacific coast. During the ensuing years, he and his fellow scientists faced great danger and surmounted numerous difficulties as they doggedly sailed over rough waters and traveled through rugged terrain to record the necessary data. Creating a palpable sense of time and place, Morrison describes the frantic temperament and daunting economic realities of California during the Gold Rush, the difficulties of journeying to and working in remote locations, and the almost-hostile encounters between the explorers and the Makah and Nootka Indians. Cartographic methods are clearly explained through both the carefully researched text and the precise illustrations. In one example, the author relates how the surveyors used telescopes, star maps, and chronometers to determine the exact location of Point Conception. In another, he details how a topographer worked with a plane table and a stadia rod to map the features of Cape Disappointment. Varying between two-page paintings and smaller spot illustrations, the artwork clarifies the text, depicts the breathtaking beauty of the coastline, and adds a sense of adventure. This is an absorbing look at the science of cartography before the era of aerial photography and GPS, and at the dedicated men who risked their lives to chart the unknown.-Joy Fleishhacker, School Library Journal Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
"This is an absorbing look at the science of cartography before the era of aerial photography and GPS, and at the dedicated men who risked their lives to chart the unknown." School Library Journal

"Combining applied science with history and biography, the discussion follows Davidson and his companions through years of difficulty, danger, and discomfort as they work toward their goal." Booklist, ALA

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780547345840
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 4/1/2004
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 48
  • Sales rank: 859,943
  • Age range: 8 - 10 Years
  • File size: 21 MB
  • Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

Meet the Author

Taylor Morrison pairs his artistic talent with extensive research to bring readers engaging nonfiction picturebooks. A graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, he has illustrated several books for children. He was born in Kansas, raised in Illinois, and now makes his home in Oregon.

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