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Absaroka and DIY Cartography

This week Google began Streetview which offered a peek at almost every home in Australia and scared the beejesus out of hundreds of homeowners. It was a massive mapping project that made the world feel even smaller. But some places got forgotten by Googlemaps, which is where the good folks at Strangemaps step in. They specialise in the cartographically kooky - maps that might not appear in an atlas but are worth hanging on to.

My personal favourite is Absaroka. This small US state-that-almost-was carved out chunks of Wyoming, South Dakota and Montana that nobody would notice were missing and declared itself independent in 1939. It's a great tale of cowboy state-rustling that would have disappeared had it not been for the Federal Writers Project which recorded details about Absaroka number plates and a Miss Absaroka beauty contest. One local even propsed a guidebook of sorts.

It would have made good fodder for Slate magazine's top 10 weirdest guidebooks, which gives the Micronations book I co-wrote the number seven spot. It narrowly beat The Night Climbers of Cambridge to be "a meditation on just what it is that drives people to want to get away".


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