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DeLorme Atlas and Gazetteer Hidden Symbols

Many Americans will be familiar with the name DeLorme, today a producer of personal satellite tracking, messaging, and navigation technology. The company was acquired by Garmin in 2016, with operations set to continue. Historically, the company has been well-known for its State Atlas and Gazetteer series, which began in 1976 with founder David DeLorme being frustrated with obsolete back-country maps of the Moosehead Lake region of Maine. He vowed to create a better map of Maine, and so The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer was born. His atlas proved a big success amongst fellow Mainers. People from other States soon started asking the question “Why don’t you produce an Atlas and Gazetteer for my State?”, and so over years that followed, starting first with the New England States of Vermont and New Hampshire, the DeLorme Mapping Company (headquartered in Yarmouth, Maine) expanded its series of Atlas and Gazetteers, mapping America 'One State at a Time', eventually covering all 50 States (and DC, in the Virginia edition).


Above: The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer was the first of DeLorme's State Atlas and Gazetteer's. Initially, the New Hampshire and Vermont editions were published with the same light-blue covers as the Maine edition. As more states appeared in the series, various colours were used on the covers, such as yellow for Pennsylvania, Green for Ohio and Black for Washington State. However, eventually all atlases in the series were given the same style red covers more familiar today. Maine, however, being the home of DeLorme and where it all began, retained its traditional light blue cover and its title to include the word "The" at the start. Also seen here is a change in cartography - in the earlier days, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont had a plainer (but very detailed) style using less colours on the page, whilst these were eventually replaced with a more modern style of cartography akin to that seen with the publication of other State Atlas and Gazetteers.

Although from the UK, the author of this webpage (already having a passion for maps) first stumbled upon what was to become a little obsession with DeLorme atlases during a vacation in 1990. Whilst travelling through New York State and purchasing a copy of DeLorme’s New York State Atlas and Gazetteer at a roadside stop, and using it ‘in the field’, it soon became apparent how much detail could be included in a single-volume atlas that covered an area a little more than the whole of England.


Above: As mentioned in the last photo caption, earlier editions of some of the DeLorme State Atlas and Gazetteer's were given different coloured covers (shown on left). This was at a time when the series was not complete. Later on (from c. 1990), all editions were given a more familiar red cover (shown on right), with the exception of Maine. As the series expanded, and also with newer editions of existing Atlas and Gazetteer's, further additions were incorporated, such as GPS coordinate data, although a more in-depth description of all new features goes beyond the scope of this Webpage.

Spending many hours pouring over a few more Atlas and Gazetteer’s in the series, it wasn’t too long before the author here discovered in the Pennsylvania atlas a strange looking symbol located by the town of Punxsutawney. Being in the few years just before the World Wide Web went online to the world, it took a little time to figure out that this symbol was a Groundhog, something for which Punxsutawney is well-known in America and was much lesser known about in the UK (until, perhaps, the release of the film Groundhog Day in 1993). It wasn’t long after, a Flamingo was discovered in the Florida Atlas and Gazetteer, adjacent to the locality of the same name. One or two discoveries in other State Atlas and Gazetteer’s (such as a Bigfoot) led to the realisation that probably every volume in DeLorme’s mapping series contained one of these ‘secret symbols’, or ‘hidden symbols’, or more widely known in products of various types as ‘Easter Eggs’*. The author’s notion of each atlas containing one of these ‘Easter Eggs’ (with some sort of connection to the area covered) became verified some years later, through an internet search, although no single resource was ever found that listed all of these and explained where to find them (this is not to say such a resource has never been created). It was concluded that these hidden symbols were probably more for a bit of fun, a publisher's inside-joke, rather than for the serious business of mapmakers including deliberate errors as a tool for catching out unauthorised reproduction of their map data. Thus, plenty of time has been spent here, tracking down these little hidden symbols (still not a 100% complete project).

It is not my intention to provide a ‘spoiler’ here and give the exact location of these symbols. The whole point of looking for them has been both great fun and at times quite frankly tedious, but always educational. The table below presents those located by the author to date. Some of them may lead the reader to locate them in an obvious place, whilst others simply do not reveal any clues as to their whereabouts within a volume. And so, my findings are as follows, after spending many hours of searching… many hours:

Atlas and Gazetteer Year Pub. Description
Delorme Alabama Atlas Hidden Symbol Alabama 2010 NASCAR Racecar
Alaska 1992 King Crab
Arizona 1993 Toad with a Mexican Hat (A Mexican Spadefoot Toad?)
Arkansas 1997 Hog
N. California 1988 Wine Bottle and Glass
S&C. California 1990 Surfer
California (Whole State) 2018 N/A
Colorado 1991 N/A
Connecticut, Rhode Island 1999 Pirate Ship
Florida 1989 Flamingo
Georgia 1998 Oliver Hardy
Hawaii 1999 Book 'em Danno (from TV Series Hawaii Five-O)
Idaho 1992 Evel Knievel in his 'Skycycle X-2'
Illinois 1991 Abraham Lincoln (Silhouette)
Indiana 1998 Basketball Jersey #33 - Larry Bird's number
Iowa 1998 N/A
Kansas 1997 Tornado Carrying a House Away
Kentucky 1997 Coonskin Cap (Associated with a Famous Frontiersman)
Louisiana 1998 Alligator
Maine 1994 N/A
Maryland, Delaware 1993 Chessie the Sea Monster
Massachusetts 1998 Witch
Michigan 1989 Car (With Undetermined Item(s) on Roof)
Minnesota 1990 Viking Helmet
Mississippi 1998 Jar of Honey
Missouri 1998 Deer Encountering a Stop Sign
Montana 1994 A Bison
Nebraska 1996 Kool-Aid Man
Nevada 1996 Elvis
New Hampshire 1996 Hamster
New Jersey 1999 A Devil Figure
New Mexico 1998 Alien Face
New York State 1988 Rip Van Winkle
Upstate New York, City Street Maps 1990 Daredevil in a Barrel
North Carolina 1993 The Wright Brothers
North Dakota 1999 Bison
Ohio 1987 A Blimp
Oklahoma 1998 An Eye
Oregon 1991 Ox-Driven Covered Wagon
Pennsylvania 1990 Groundhog
South Carolina 1998 A Fox (reference to Gen. Francis Marion)
South Dakota 1997 A (Tall) Prairie Chicken
Tennessee 1989 Small Train
Texas 1995 Armadillo
Utah 1993 A Salt Shaker
Vermont 1996 Champ (or Champy) the Lake Monster
Virginia 1989 A Ham
Washington 1988 Bigfoot (Literally Taken)
West Virginia 1997 Coal Mining Canary
Wisconsin 1988 Dairy Cow
Wyoming 1992 UFO over a Famous Butte

Note to learned readers only: As you may have seen, four hidden symbols in the table above are still yet to be found (as of September, 2021); if anybody knows the whereabouts of these, in the following DeLorme Atlas and Gazetteer’s, then I would really appreciate some help in finding them myself:

Colorado (1991 ed.)
Iowa (1998 ed.)
Maine (1994 ed.)
California (2018 ed. - one volume covering entire State)

Contact Here. It is possible the year given above is not relevant. All other atlas' hidden symbols successfully located for the editions I have had access to. I will happily credit on this webpage anybody else’s findings, as appropriate. Oh what the heck... if I am in a good mood, I may even send out some small prizes to the first person or persons who provide me with the information I am after in order to locate these "missing hidden symbols".
Thank you!


* ‘Easter Eggs’ are things deliberately included in something (e.g., book, software, film, music) by the creator, with a view to making them undocumented, hidden, and non-obvious to the end-user. A more thorough description of this term is given in the website Here (external link).

Above: An on-and-off project lasting multiple decades eventually led the author of this webpage to invest in a reading magnifier, complete with lights, to help scan map pages with more clarity!

References and Further Information

1. DeLorme Atlas and Gazetteer complete series (various editions)
2. 'DeLorme' - Wikipedia article Here (external link)

Note: DeLorme and Garmin are Registered Trademarks and neither of these businesses sponsor, authorize, or endorse this personal webpage. I also bring the reader to the attention of this Website's Disclaimer, which may be found Here.

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