December 9, 2013 Sections
The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION
HAGERSTOWN, Md. - A new atlas details the Potomac River and its associated amenities throughout Washington County.
The atlas — unveiled by the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau at a Washington County Board of Commissioners meeting in May — has 39 maps that detail the 83 miles of the river in the county.
The maps begin tracing the Potomac at the most western point of the county at Sideling Hill Creek and following it to Knoxville, east of Weaverton Cliffs.
"It tells you in great detail of every amenity along the 83 miles of the Potomac River in Washington County," said Tom Riford, CVB president and chief executive officer. "If you're out in a kayak, and you're going downstream and trying to find out where you are, having that atlas will make it much easier."
Features in the atlas include information on railroads, boat ramps, rapids, campsites and slackwater areas on the river.
"There are 60-plus layers in the atlas," said county Geographic Information System Specialist Bonn Poland, who produced the maps. "I used a lot of sources, a lot of free data out there, and I did a lot of research on my own."
The atlas is available for download as a free mobile application for smartphones, with two map pages up at a time and a mobile GPS for users to locate their position along the river.
The project — which began more than a year ago and is a collaboration of the county's GIS, Icon Graphics and the CVB — was originally meant for emergency services for river rescues, Poland said.
"I started combining, compiling data, and making maps for them with as much detail of the river as I could," he said. "Eventually, it got to the point where I'd done the whole river in the county, and we decided this would be really useful for everyone to use."
Poland said he contacted the CVB, which eventually contacted Icon Graphics to put together and distribute the maps as an atlas.
Keith Baumbach, president and owner of Icon Graphics, said that the company was responsible for giving the atlas "an artistic look and feel."
"We got to use some of my own photography for background images, and then we organized it to get it ready for print," he said. "I've never seen it done before where they give away (such) detailed topographical maps."
Icon Graphics also helped put together a website for the atlas, which provides individual map pages in the atlas for free as PDF files.
About 1,000 copies of the atlas have been printed, with more than 100 given to the county. Copies are available for $5 at the Visitor Welcome Center.
Riford said that bike shops and other stores in the area have requested them for re-sale.
"There's a lot of people that love maps," he said. "To have a good map is great for bikers on the towpath, for boaters and canoers and kayakers."
In addition to Washington County, the atlas also shows features along the Potomac River in parts of Allegany and Frederick counties, Md.; Morgan, Berkeley and Jefferson counties, W.Va.; and Loudoun County, Va.
Information on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal and the Western Maryland Rail Trail are also included.
Information from: The Herald-Mail of Hagerstown, Md., http://www.herald-mail.com