Changing Planet

A Map Designers’ Journey Through Hallowed Ground



Having grown up in Virginia, working as the designer for the Journey Through Hallowed Ground map has brought back many fond memories. At one time or another, I have visited most of the towns, fished or canoed the creeks, and strolled through many of the parks shown on this map. For most native Virginians, the importance of place and history (particular the Civil War) has been instilled in us from the time we were born. This map merely alludes to this fact.

The graves of twelve generations of my mother’s family can be found between Virginia and Maryland— on Virginia’s Northern Neck, some of these date back to 1660. My father’s family migrated from Virginia’s Tidewater area, through the Piedmont, and into the Shenandoah Valley finally settling south of Roanoke. Needless to say, both sides witnessed the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Civil War, and other wars well beyond Virginia’s borders. Simply put, my roots and those of my family are deeply entwined with those of this region, now known as Where America Happened™.

My personal association with this very unique place inspired me to design a map that encapsulates the many notable sites, peoples, and events that have had a significant part in the course of our history. This map was designed to do more than locate places and identify events. Its main purpose is to welcome the reader to the remarkable historical and cultural landscape that is the Journey Through Hallowed Ground.

Robert E. Pratt

Formerly a National Geographic Maps staff member with 28 years of service, Robert E. Pratt is now a freelance map designer. The Civil War, U.S. maritime wrecks, an related historical topics are among his areas of interests.

Juan José Valdés is The Geographer and National Geographic Maps' Director of Editorial and Research. He guides and assists the Map Policy Committee in setting border representations, disputed territories, and naming conventions for National Geographic. As NG Map's Director of Editorial and Research, he is responsible for ensuring the accuracy and consistency of its maps and map products.
  • Beth Erickson

    Bob, it was a pleasure working with you and all of us at the Journey Through Hallowed Ground thank you for creating such an engaging and beautiful map.

  • jvaldes


    Spoke to Bob this morning. He relays his thanks, and like you, found the project both pleasurable and thought provoking.

    Juan José Valdés

  • Steve


    You inspire me. Love the way you write so vividly makes me want to visit the jthg even more! Plus your cartography is first class. Keep up the good work.

    • Juan Valdes

      Having such a long and diverse career in cartography has kept me inspired.
      Thanks for your comments.


  • JKJ

    This is an incredible map, offering so much detail and thought. You can tell that the mapmaker really cared about this project. And it’s a must for history lovers, map lovers and anyone traveling through Virginia, Maryland, WVA and PA. Waay cool!

  • Juan Valdes

    Each map we produce is a true labor of love. Once assigned to our cartographic staff, we nurture each an everyone (just like a kid) until they are ready to go out into the world. From your compliment, this Map’s project staff did a very good job on this one
    Juan José Valdés

  • Cornelia Keller

    What a wonderful thing you have created and it will be so useful!

    • Juan Valdes


      Thank you for the compliment. We hope that by using this map you will learn as much about Where America Happened™ as we have.

      Juan José Valdés

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