Thursday, January 28, 2010

National Geographic’s Maps: Tools for Adventure - Now open!

Maps are invaluable tools whether you are looking for adventure or just trying to find the nearest fast food. Many of our original maps were produced by brave explorers who ventured beyond their known world. Think about it: would you want to board a small ship to sail across an ocean when you had no idea how big the ocean was, how dangerous the journey would be, how long it might take or what you might find? In honor of these intrepid explorers, let’s look at some adventurous Virginians who challenged the unknown and explored the world.
Alexander Spotswood – born circa 1676 in Morocco
· Appointed Lt. Governor of Virginia colony; first to occupy Governor’s Mansion in Williamsburg
· Led Knights of the Golden Horseshoe Expedition into Shenandoah Valley
· Founded German settlements to establish mining industry in Virginia
· Operated what was possibly the first colonial iron works
Meriwether Lewis – born August 18, 1774 in Albemarle County
· Part of Lewis and Clark team - made first US overland expedition to the Pacific Coast and back
· Expedition goal to get a sense of the Louisiana Purchase; US did not know what it was buying and France did not know what it was selling
· Produced the first accurate maps of Northwest US; brought back approximately 140 maps
· Collected information on natural resources; established relations with Native Americans
· Expedition laid the groundwork for US westward expansion
William Clark – born August 1, 1770 in Caroline County
· Part of Lewis and Clark team (see above)
Matthew Fontaine Maury – born January 14, 1806 in Spotsylvania County
· Nicknamed Pathfinder of the Seas and Father of Modern Oceanography
· US Naval career cut short by injury; became first superintendent of US Naval Observatory
· Studied ships’ logs and collected data on winds, calms, and ocean currents
· Convinced that ocean knowledge would improve only with international cooperation
· Advocated international system of land weather stations
· Launched American Association for the Advancement of Science
Richard Evelyn Byrd – born October 25, 1888 in Winchester
· First to fly over North Pole in 1926
· Made 5 expeditions to Antarctica
· First to fly over South Pole in 1929
· Did extensive exploration and mapping of Antarctica
· A plane from first Antarctic expedition displayed at Va. Aviation Museum