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Great question! No doubt, it was much more difficult to make maps prior to the advent of modern technologies like remote sensing. In the "old days," cartographers used compasses, sextants, and mounting telescopes, along with triangulation, geometry, trigonometry, physics, and other engineering/surveying tools and techniques to chart angles and distances over land and water. These calculations were then combined with visual sketches and photos to create maps. It's astonishingly impressive, I think, that early cartographers were able to produce such accurately rendered representations given the limitations.

Learn more:
1. Cartographic history
Wikipedia article(note the section on "technological changes"): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cartography
National Geographic book "Mapping the World: An Illustrated History of Cartography": http://shop.nationalgeographic.com/product/747/2695/107.html

2. Surveying
Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surveying
1879 USGS Land Surveys of the West(perhaps the most famous, ambitious American land surveys utilizing the "old technologies"): http://west.stanford.edu/cgi-bin/pager.php?id=54

David J Caban

Hi Sarah

I enjoyed your first entry! Now for a question. Today we have satellites in space as well as airpalnes to make map making easy and accurate. How were maps made before we had space views?

Uncle David

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