Monday, November 12, 2012

The Map and a Tale of Three Counties

One email I received about halfway through the publishing process was from my editor suggesting that a map showing the Pilot Mountain area would be a great addition to the text, giving the reader a sense of place.

So I set about doing a map.

I sorted through geological maps in the North Carolina room of the Burke County Library. I reviewed maps I had run across in my research, most importantly a map by former school superintendent R. L. Patton showing the locations of county schools in 1925. I eliminated, added back and then re-eliminated school names and landmarks from my potential map, deciding to stick to only those that I mention in the actual text itself.

I sketched a basic map, went to my trusty computer whiz-kid and showed him what I wanted, where to locate the Catawba River and the two main creeks that go through the community, those so important in the gold rush days, Silver Creek (I have yet to figure out why it's not Gold Creek) and Brindle Creek. We determined where on the map to place the South Mountain State Park and the mountain peaks that played a part in the text as well.

All that finished, I felt it was time for the truth or consequences test. Take it to the old-timers at their breakfast hangout and let them critique it. Good idea because critique it they did. More like they argued it, discussed it, made suggestions. Slide the creeks around because Silver Creek is closer to the county line. No, slide it back over here. No, over here. Move the peaks because they aren't that far to the north.

Walker Top is easy to find, one tells me. Drive to the dumpsters on the road, look directly above the one on the end, and that's Walker Top.


After much deliberation and back and forth comments, the men came to a consensus and I came up with a map.
Then yesterday, over a month after the completed book was launched, a friend of mine pointed out that I had left off a bordering county. My mind raced through the outline, wondering where I could have gone wrong. He told me, and my fingers raced to the computer to verify. All those people I had consulted couldn't have missed it, I said to myself as I waited for a county map of North Carolina to appear on the screen.

I can see where I was misled. Drats. He was right, but only by a hair.

Seems that there is one place where three counties meet, Burke, Cleveland, and Lincoln, about at the spot where I have a the jagged lines above the words Cleveland County. This man is a preacher now at a church that used to be called Three County Rock Church. He told me about a rock that was the marker for the three counties, how it was in a museum in Cleveland County until recently when it was returned to its spot. He told me about how, when he first preached at the church, he stood at the pulpit in one county and his congregation sat facing him from the pews in another. Issues with building permits a few years ago caused them to petition the state to re-draw the county lines. The state approved and finagled the line around the church so that now the entire church facility is in Burke County. But for a bit, only a short distance, Lincoln County touches Burke.

So the map is incorrect, by a hair.

Catch of the day,


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