MapCarte 27/365: Willamette River historic channels by Daniel E. Coe, 2013


Borrowing heavily from the Mississippi river channel maps designed by Harold Fisk (MapCarte 26), Daniel Coe has taken LiDAR data of the Willamette River, Oregon and created a stunning image of historic river channels.

At a glance the map might appear to be a plume of smoke or possibly an electric storm. The title is the only real hint of what the image represents but it’s enough. Adding contextual detail such as roads or cities would take this abstract map and revert it to a simple topographic reference map. The impact would be lessened and here we have an example of ‘less is more’ as the map invites the reader to figure out what they’re looking at. Once understood, you begin to explore the many twists and turns of the channels and can visualize the feel of the water rushing through and carving the landscape. Coe uses a single blue hue that becomes lighter to represent deeper channels and this simple effect is stunning…almost creating an x-ray of the landscape that picks out one feature and shows it far more clearly than a standard map can ever hope to show.

Further details and a link to buy a large format poster here.