The recently overhauled Google Maps seems to draw on a deeper and broader inventory of geographic data. This is good news for anyone who wants to find the name of a tiny creek or an abandoned rail line without having to sift through inaccessible physical archives at a local library or planning commission. Mapheads rejoice!
I’ve often toggled around in both Google Maps and Google Earth to trace the lines of a small creek I enjoyed exploring as a 14-year-old in suburban Monmouth County, New Jersey. Up until recently, these blue squiggles remained nameless on the map, too small to justify a cartographic tag. Last night, while taking a break from studying, I was pleased and surprised to find that the liquid landscape from my teenage memories suddenly had a name in the new Google Maps.
Mahoras Brook flowing into Waackaack Creek near Allocco Park at the northern edge of Holmdel Township along the Bayshore in Monmouth County. There it is. Nothing special, really. Yet I’m overwhelmed with excitement over the possibility of learning more about this little watershed, forgotten on most maps (up to now) and beleaguered by nearly thirty years of suburban sprawl. How did native Lenapi interact with this brook? Was it of any use to Dutch and English colonists, or just another minor drainage ditch in this coastal county? Maybe there’s nothing much to learn about Mahoras or Waackaack, other than the vagaries of how they came to get these names. That’s fine, though. Every little bit of extra information helps tie me back to that unnamed creek where I spent hours building bridges out of fallen logs and bushwhacking through meadows of phragmites.