History Mapping Using Google Earth with Marilyn Cummings

By Lon Hosford


Marilyn Cummings presented work she has been doing over the last few years on mapping Hunterdon County Using Google Earth. She diligently showed the specific features that she used in the Google Earth designer tools: the pin tool, the polygon tool, the linear line tool and layers.

Layers represent a topic you want to map such as ancient cities. Layers contain pins and shapes you want to overlay on a map.

The pin tool allows you marks spots with information about a location, the polygon tool allows you to outline areas on the map and the linear line tool allows you to draw lines from one place on the map to another.

Marilyn said she is not a techie. But she was very skilled in her specific use of Google Earth.

Marilyn uses the layers for various historical topics. She gathers information about that topic marks it on the map using one of the tools. Then a KML file (Keyhole Markup File) is generated that Google Earth uses.

Then she proceeded through the map layers she has created for Hunterdon County. She had many. It looked like several dozen layers. One she demonstrated was Delaware Township. For example she showed the preserved acres in Delaware Township.

Interesting the layering has the ability to show history. So you can see the changes over time of the various layers. In the case of the layer for Delaware Township’s preserved land, you could see as the land was moved to preserved status for specific times.

Another item that she showed was the history of the various Ferry Boats along the Delaware River over time. There were many at one time. She claimed that many changed names and the ownership  moved from one Ferry service to another as you could imagine.

Other Google Earth layers included Native Indian camp sites, geological topography, boundaries of Hunterdon County, historic buildings, old roads and just about anything. Glynn Gillette suggested mapping Radon and Marilyn thought that was a great idea.

She is currently working on history of Hunterdon from the 1800’s. She started way back when the County was founded. Interesting to see was that Hunterdon County was really once West Jersey in today’s terms and had seven land owners. It followed the Delaware River all the way to New York State and down past Trenton.

Marilyn wants to take this process she created to the world. She created the website History Mapping to provide more information on this project. You can join at the site and keep up to date on progress and become a resource for the research. She mentioned for example she has an associate working on Alexandria Township. She has contacted Google but they did not respond despite to registered letters. She has contacted Wikipedia Foundation and they responded but only to point her to their “proposed projects” page.

Overall Marilyn is a pioneer as well as an evangelist for establishing the data structures and best practices for mapping the History of the Earth and the Club members reported a very positive experience.