Cover Story by Lilace Mellin Guignard:
We’ve all heard about treasure maps, but sometimes the map is the lost treasure. This is the story of a map created in 1965 by Penn State Professor Howard Higbee. After three decades of drawing 86,000 miles of streams onto a 33x55-inch map of Pennsylvania, a printing company reproduced 70,000 copies. Several years later they went out of business, trashing the original drawing and printing plates. Thus the legend of the “Lost Stream Map” was born.
These maps do excel at encouraging exploration. Scott Greevy, a ranger at Michaux State Forest in the south-central part of the state, remembers showing a classified ad for some “secret stream fishing map,” AKA a Higbee map, to his father. “I was fourteen or sixteen and my old man got it for me. I don’t remember the exact wording of the ad,” he says, “but it made it sound like if you had this secret map you could go fishing anywhere. Mapping is a language. When I look at this map I don’t see a flat piece of paper.” He gave his paper one to his brother and upgraded to a laminated one that hangs in his garage.
“I’ve stared at that map a lot,” Scott continues. He’s pulled by what he calls the mystique of it. “It makes it seem like you could go somewhere no one’s ever been before.” It’s the first filter he looks at when planning a fishing trip. “So many trips have come out of that map,” he grins. “If you stare at that thing long enough, you’re gonna go fishing.”
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