You Could Stare for Hours at This 1897 Michigan Map With Odd Drawings for Cities
This high resolution map of Michigan's Lower Peninsula from 1897 is like no other Michigan map you've ever seen. It was part of a series of railroad maps created by Galbraith's and includes creative drawings for many cities listed on the map.
Take a look just at Kalamazoo County. Cooper is designated by a barrel - a barrel maker is known as a cooper. Richland gets a dollar sign. Texas (Corners) shows what appears to be a cowboy or Texas Ranger. Pavilion features, well a pavilion. Fulton is represented by a steamboat for Robert Fulton. Climax appears to be a chewing tobacco label. And that drawing of a man with a puckered mouth between Comstock and Scotts - that's anybody's guess.
So why the funny drawings? Turns out they were memory aids for railway employees to learn all the stops along a route. According to a research paper on the Galbraith maps,
Frank H. Galbraith, a clerk with the Railway Mail Service, developed railway maps, informally known as “Gal’s Maps,” in the late 1800s to assist railway mail clerks in learning the complex railway mail distribution networks. These maps served as memory aids that helped railway mail clerks learn the specific location of counties, routes, and post offices in various states.