The D&L Blog

Delaware & Lehigh - Take a Look into the Past Using Technology

This summer our GIS Analyst intern, Miranda Waldman (Pennsylvania State University Dept. of Geography), made an interactive web mapping application that allows users to compare maps of the Lehigh Canal from 1864 with modern imagery. The historic maps were created by The Lehigh Coal & Navigation Company. The maps were scanned and are now stored by Lehigh University. The series contains nine maps that show the extension of the Lehigh and Susquehanna Railroad. The chief engineer on the project was John Leisenring.

Hugh Moore Park in Easton PA in 1864 as the map viewer application shows

Hugh Moore Park in Easton in 1864 as shown on the map viewer application.

The D&L obtained the scans of the maps from Lehigh University Libraries in order to georeference them to modern imagery. Georeferencing if the process of lining up with the historic maps their correct location on a modern map that has coordinates. This process involves selecting points that appear on both modern imagery and the historic  When sufficient features have been selected then the maps will align.

The map set includes nine hand-drawn maps from Mauch Chuck (now Jim Thorpe) to Easton. This application allows users to zoom and pan over all the maps as you would with a modern online map.  The white bar in the middle of the map (slider tool) allows users to compare history with present day.

1864 map of Easton, PA

1864 map of Easton, PA.

This tool is a fascinating way to experience the historic Lehigh Canal and see how it has changed in the past 150 years!

You can check out the map here using the D&L’s ArcGIS web mapping application, Lehigh Canal 1864 Map Viewer.