Mapping peaks and valleys

Mapping peaks and valleys

BY SUSAN HAUSER

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Mapmaker Dave Imus is based in Eugene.
Mapmakers generally toil in obscurity, tending to the small details that help put landscapes in context. But public acclaim sometimes comes to the cartographer, bringing a reminder that people still love to look at beautiful maps.

About 20 years ago, fortune smiled on Stuart Allan of Medford’s Raven Maps when The Wall Street Journal called his U.S. state maps the most beautiful maps in the world. Dave Imus of Eugene’s Imus Geographics likewise got a taste of fame recently when an article in the online magazine Slate extolled his 50-by-35.6-inch U.S. map, which had been named best new map in North America for 2010 by the Cartography and Geographic Information Society.

How convenient that Allan and Imus, widely regarded as the two top cartographers in the country, are friends and University of Oregon geography alumni who support each other’s work. So when the Slate article resulted in an avalanche of online orders (8,000 in the first week) for Imus’ prize-winning map, Allan, no stranger himself to cartography prizes, stepped in to assist with order fulfillment, shipping the paper map either folded ($12.95) or laminated and rolled ($39.95).

Allan and business partner Michael Beard have operated Raven Maps since 1987, Allan making the maps (or building them, in cartography parlance) and Beard selling them. They offer a plethora of large paper maps, ranging from the individual states to views of North America and the entire planet. The 43-by-56-inch Oregon map, for example, sells for $30 plain or $50 laminated. Raven Maps has a large international audience of admirers. Before postage costs grew prohibitive, they mailed out more than a million catalogs a year.