This year marks the 200th anniversary of Henry Rowe Schoolcraft’s trip through the Missouri and Arkansas Ozarks, which resulted in the earliest systematic recorded documentation of the people and places of the region. Schoolcraft’s journal has been used by historians and scholars to understand the early landscape and culture of the Ozarks, although his attitude toward the inhabitants was condescending and his understanding of nature was limited.
The exact route of Schoolcraft’s travels has also been a subject of interest. Milton Rafferty, the dean of Ozarks geographers, devoted years to the subject, and his efforts culminated in a map published in Rude Pursuits and Rugged Peaks, the reprint of Schoolcraft’s journal he annotated and edited.
Now, thanks to the amazing work of Curtis Copeland, the GIS/Mapping Coordinator for the city of Branson, Rafferty’s map has been refined and improved. Using a complicated layering of digital information, Copeland has produced a scalable, multiple-level interactive map of Schoolcraft’s route. He previewed this map at the recent meeting of the Missouri Archaeological Society that occurred this weekend, and as an attendee of the concurrent Ozarks Studies Conference I got to see it in action. It’s a wonderful piece of work!
The map is free and available to the public at this site. If you’re anything like me, you’ll find it endlessly fascinating. With the enthusiastic reception his presentation received at the conference, I have no doubt that this resource will continue to be refined and added to as the years go by. Take a look . . . but be prepared to lose a few hours.