A fine atlas of the Sooner State proves that roads and trails are great storytellers.
By Jim Brightly, F358406, Technical Editor
I love maps … all kinds of maps. I enjoy old charts, United States Geological Survey topographic contour maps, road maps, even GPS screens. Being a Navy brat during and immediately following World War II, I traveled a lot, mainly with my mom when we were meeting my father at his new stations, but also with both parents.
When I say we traveled a lot, I mean it. In the first grade alone, I attended three different schools in three different cities, and in three different states, on both coasts. The three of us drove from Boston, Massachusetts, to Portland, Oregon, in the early spring of 1946, long before the United States’ interstate highway system was constructed. For that trip, our overstuffed 1940 Buick Special sped over a lot of two-lane roads and a few four-lane highways, and I followed every mile we covered with gas station road maps.
Why am I telling you this? Because all of this traveling must have been what instilled in me a true love of maps and charts at an early age. My mom always made sure I had my own map of the trip, whether we journeyed by train or car.
So much traveling and alone time also taught me to love books; after all, I spent as much time reading as I did traveling, and many days doing both.
Which brings me to the absolutely beautiful, color-embossed, hardcover edition of the Historical Atlas of Oklahoma, Fourth Edition ($39.95, University of Oklahoma Press). It is among several atlases of historical significance published by the University of Oklahoma, including others that focus on the western states of Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Texas, and Washington. Used as an indispensable reference for more than four decades, this updated fourth edition was issued in conjunction with Oklahoma’s centennial in 2007.
The atlas is written by professor emeritus Charles Robert Goins and late professor Danney Goble, both of the University of Oklahoma, with cartography by James H. Anderson, manager of cartography at the Oklahoma Geological Survey. The authors were assisted by 17 contributors, both scholars and professionals.
Nearly 120 topics explore the geology, natural science, military, politics, and culture of Oklahoma, among other subjects. Each topic is illustrated with maps that include legends, graphs, and tables. The atlas contains 173 color maps; more than 100 color illustrations; and 286 thick, high-gloss pages.
Find the final end of the Trail of Tears, when the Cherokee were forcibly removed from their ancient tribal lands in the Southeast to Oklahoma. See the routes and maps of the six land rushes that birthed the term “Sooners,” and learn how that term came to be. Watch how the oil booms transformed the state, and see where Will Rogers grew up.
Whether you’ve ever called Oklahoma home, traveled through it on Route 66, enjoyed the wit of Will Rogers, want to learn more about the 46th state, or have been intrigued by its outline, which appears to be pointing a finger west, you’ll want this atlas in your onboard library. Its beauty, information, photographs, and colorful charts will entertain and inform you and your guests for hours.
The Historical Atlas of Oklahoma is available at bookstores; through online booksellers; or from the University of Oklahoma Press (2800 Venture Drive, Norman, OK 73069-8218; 800-627-7377, 405-325-2000; www.oupress.com).