This page will be a Geographical Atlas that will break the landscape down into geo-features as they evolved from the earliest maps and surveys to our modern topographic maps. The old map symbols and various techniques are very interesting.
Two additional Atlas pages on this site will focus on:
1) ATLAS ARCHAIC GLOSSARY: Archaic terms and phrases described as used by early natives and settlers regarding the landscape.
2) ATLAS OF HISTORIC MAPS: This page will be a collection of basic historic maps/details and surveys relating to Eastern Cherokee history, events and their territorial claim.
More maps and archaic terms and phrases will be found throughout the website and especially in the Cherokee Ecology sections.
Basic Landscape Geographical Features
We are not dealing with earth science as taught in modern classrooms, but the old, practical means by which people traveled and lived on the early frontiers and wilderness’s of North America. This breaks down into basic elements that determined where and how folks traveled, where they camped, landscape obstacles and challenges, etc. I will include simple sketches that I have made over the years as well as reproducing non-copyright material from old books and archives.
Travel was determined by mountain passes (gaps), river/stream fords (shallows), swampy expanses, since mountains had to be crossed, rivers forded and swampy quagmires circumvented. Therefore we will deal with geographic features first and ecological landscapes secondly.
Native peoples and early Euro-travelers used a primitive technique of mental triangulation similar to modern orienteering with a compass. If you can see two mountain peaks at a distance and get a compass bearing from your position to each one and draw the angular lines on a map, you can pinpoint your physical location. Early travelers relied on several “plug-ins” to their computer-mind apps: TIME TRAVELED KNOWING THE AVERAGE SPEED FOR WALKING OR HORSEBACK; GEOGRAPHICAL LANDMARKS; and SOLAR LANDMARKS (MOON, SUN AND STARS).
The above are some of the very basic but major geographic or geological landscape features. They influenced where trails evolved.
Other geo-landmarks originated from names of legendary or mythological personalities such as the Devil’s Den and Devil’s Courthouse. Below are some features I became familiar with through the years of exploring about 300 miles of blufflines in North Alabama.