|Maps for Mariners
Charts for Marylanders
The Language of Charts
Maps for Mariners
A chart is a road map for mariners. It tells them where
they are, where they can sail safely, and delineates areas to avoid by
describing the surface under the water. Anyone venturing out on the Chesapeake
needs to consult a chart to ensure a safe voyage.
Today's charts provide mariners with a wealth of data.
Hundreds of bits of information are readily available telling them virtually
everything they need to know to reach their destination safely. Based on
sophisticated surveys, modern charts reflect how much is known about the
world below the surface.
Chesapeake mariners have not always had the benefit of
such knowledge. Earlier charts were far less informative, depending on
the state of exploration or survey work at a given time. The charts
presented here reflect four hundred years of knowledge about the bay. They
illustrate how new information was made available to mariners over time.
||Map of the World
Seville, Spain, 1526
This is the earliest map to show the existence of the
Chesapeake Bay, called "Baya de Santa Maria." Juan Vespucci was the royal
pilot of Spain's hydrographic office and nephew of Amerigo Vespucci, after
whom North and South America are named. The information on this map came
from a 1525 voyage by Pedro de Quexos.
||A New Chart of the Coast of America from
Philadelphia to the Gulf of Florida [detail]
Huntingfield Corporation Map Collection, MSA SC 1399-1-457
This is one of four sheets that make up the complete chart.
The harbor insets are new additions to this privately-produced British
chart, a feature that reduced the number of charts required on a voyage.
Note also that the direction and speed of the current flow are indicated,
information first included on a 1799 chart by Heather's partner, William
Norie. This is a "blueback" chart, so names because it is backed with heavy
blue paper or linen for durability.
||A New Chart of the Coast of North America
from New York to Cape Hatteras
Capt. N. Holland [probably Samuel Holland]
Huntingfield Corporation Map Collection, MSA SC 1399-1-38
Samuel Holland completed this chart one year before the
British Hydrographic Office was formed in 1795. It illustrates a wealth
of information essential to navigation: soundings, shoals, and bottom conditions.
The shoreline profiles assisted piloting, or navigating within sight of
landmarks. Mariners used this chart well into the nineteenth century.
||Small-craft Chart, Series 101: Potomac
U.S. Coast & Geodetic Survey
Washington, DC, 1959
Huntingfield Corporation Map Collection, MSA SC 1399-1-761
This was the first small craft chart produced by the U.S.
Coast & Geodetic Survey. It contains the kind of information skipper
of recreational small craft need: the location of various services, photographs
of port entrances, and tide and current information. This small book was
designed for use on boats where larger charts were impractical.
||A chart of the Chesapeake and Delaware
Fielding Lucas, Jr.
Baltimore, Maryland, 1832
Huntingfield Corporation Map Collection, MSA SC 1399-1-295
Fielding Lucas, Maryland's only active cartographer and
map publisher of the time, added several new features to this chart of
the bay. He used color to make the map more readable, included three scales
for different latitudes, provided notes, tables of tidal information, and
included data on navigational aids. Also, this was one of the first charts
to show the Chesapeake-Delaware canal, constructed from 1824 to 1829.
© Copyright May 23, 2017Maryland State Archives