Our first oddment . . . . . . Mississippi ribbon maps . . . .lost in the meanderings of history till now . .

A ribbon map, this is. If only it had come along a decade earlier, Mr. Bordelon could mark off the distance from one drinking and gambling establishment on the Mississippi shore to the next with his new poker friend Martin Harden in my upcoming novella “Couchsachraga.”

Alas, it came into being in 1866, patented by Sidney B. Fairchild and Myron Coloney of Missouri, much too late even if these gentlemen could be time traveled into their future and blasted back again to their seats on a heap of cotton bales with a bottle of bourbon as the paddle wheel starts again.

Eleven feet long, it is only a few inches wide and wrapped handily around a spool small enough to fit in a gentleman’s pocket with a crank but with what must have been a banner like effect if the wind blew hard enough to push the paddle steamer halfway across the river while you were trying to fit it back in its case.

Town to city. Waterfall to river. Sugar lands to cotton. Cotton to corn and then to Minnesota wheat. That part a bit hard to read, it was true, being right at the end that stuck in the inside of the spool. Better the other where the river met the sea with the bayou looking like a turkey’s foot with water lines dashing every which way as they headed for the sea.

This example being part of the collection of the Library of Congress, http://www.LOC.gov. If one looks closely at the southerly end, you can spot Jefferson Davis’s name by the name of his Brimfield Plantation at Davis Bend in Mississippi’s black bottom country.


This 11-foot-long “ribbon map” of the Mississippi River, printed in 1866.Myron Coloney and Sidney B. Fairchild makers. www.loc.gov

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