This week I did not do much work with the map itself or background research into Father De Smet and his travels. This week has primarily been research into the digital aspect of this particular project. This is when the work gets really hard, but becomes particularly rewarding!
The main obstacle I have been wrestling with is how to be able to use a digital copy of Father De Smet’s map that depicts the Rocky Mountain missions as well as U.S. Army forts in the area as well as trading posts. In order for such a feat to be accomplished, I am hoping to use the mapping platform MacGPS Pro. With this software, if I am able to figure out the datum and projection of the map, which is normally labeled on the edges of a map, I can have the program upload the digital copy of the De Smet map as an ordinary digital map. Once that is complete all I need to do next is pinpoint two to four exact points on the map with GPS coordinates. Two will not be a problem for both St. Mary’s mission and the Coeur d’Alenes mission due to local records. The last two points I can find on my trip to the area in early May.
In the course of my research on the technology aspect, which actually blends well with a class i am taking ( Digital History), a website came to my attention that will be the model for me to work from. The website is called “Digital Harlem” and has most of the elements I want to incorporate for my project. This includes the making of different overlays to illustrate routes taken as well as possible Native American boundaries of the area.
However, I want to take this model and go a step further. I want to incorporate the ability to change the map type to aerial views such as seen on Google Earth though it’s satellite view. At the same time, during my trip I plan to take pictures of the exact locations of missions in hopes of creating a Street view add on so that these areas as they appear today can be seen as well. By putting all these elements together into one project I believe that this will help create a better overall picture of the life in the Rocky Mountains in the 1840’s, including not only distances that were traveled, but terrain as well.