Small steps

I keep making small incremental progress on Ohunkagan. I start to imagine the city it will be when I reach the “present” – from the perspective of around 1900, which is its current historical moment.

[Technical note: screenshot taken at this URL (for future screenshots to match).]

You can see that the near-northeast has filled in (Balto area). Also, the Conagher Rail Car Company, in the southwest along the portage shoreline, and the Signal Hill area straight west near the line with the town of Mythic.

I have done work farther out, beyond the frame of the “standard” screenshot above, including work at Iyotanhaha, Riverton and Prairie Forge. All these towns will be within the Metropolitan Area’s modern perimeter, once we reach 2020.

Music to map by: Tears for Fears, “Mad World.”

Ohunkagan Progresses

Ohunkagan, Makaska, is approaching the year 1900. I’ve done a lot of work on the transit systems: streetcars, elevated rail, commuter rail.

These systems show up very nicely on the “histor” view on OGF:

[Technical note: screenshot taken at this URL (for future screenshots to match).]

I also added the World’s Fair site (directly east of downtown, on the lakeshore), the beginnings of a zoo, and lots of new neighborhoods.

Music to map by: Jean Sibelius, “Lemminkäinen Suite.”

Sitting in an 1880’s Ohunkagan brownstone, dreaming of an imaginary world named Arhet

I have utterly neglected this blog.

I offer no excuses. Just didn’t cross my mind. I had other things going on. I have other blogs and other, non-geofictional projects that occupy me.

In fact, I have been quite busy with geofiction, too. Over the last 6 months since my last blog post here, I have been developing my “Ohunkagan 1880” snapshot, at OpenGeofiction. This is my city in my fictional state of Makaska, in the parallel-universe US called FSA. Here is a screenshot of the city, in its 1880 incarnation. I intend to then roll the historical window forward, mapping in changes and additions, over the coming decades, until it catches up to the present.

[Technical note: screenshot taken at this URL (for future screenshots to match).]

But I have also been working on my own, long-neglected map server. I have named my planet: Arhet.

It’s just a name. But one thing that always annoyed me about OGF was that the planet not only lacks a name, but there has always been strong community resistance to finding a consensus name for it. Someone is always bound to object to any proposal, and thus, “OGF world” remains unnamed. For my planet, I decided to just put a name on it from the start, so no one would end up grappling with the dilemma later.

Arhet is tentatively open to interested mappers. I’ve written up my current thinking on how this will work, here:

Music to make worlds by: The Youngsters, “Smile (Sasha Remix)”.


5 Years Mapping and Naming

I failed to commemorate my 5th anniversary on OGF. I mapped my first node on January 31, 2014. Maybe there were a few nodes mapped before this, but they have been deleted, and they were on that same date. Puerto Desolado was my first OGF town.

Only today, I felt a moment of nostalgia.

I keep working, slowly, on Makaska. One thing that’s important to me: the “native” names in the state are the pseudo-fictional Rakhoda language. This is just an alternate name for the Dakota language, as spoken by the native peoples of southern Minnesota in the pre-European era. So all the native names of the state are actual Dakota words. Hence when mapping, I keep this hand book on my desk:


Music to name things by: Sioux Honor Song

1880 Snapshot, Cash Township

I am intending a historical approach to mapping my FSA state of Makaska.

The contours are in pretty good shape for the whole state – not perfect, but far enough along that I feel comfortable that I can proceed to the next step.

My hope is to map, one by one, each of the state’s 203 townships (in the US, these were surveyed 6 mile x 6 mile squares under the old PLSS system, generally, but they varied because of natural topography sometimes). I will first map each township to the point of a kind of “1880 snapshot.”

I have completed my first township, called Cash Township, in the north-central part of the state. It includes the towns of Apple River and Duy, future suburbs of the Riverton-Uppington Micropolitan Region, the latter of which consists of the whole of Elizabeth Parish (i.e. county).

Here is the map.

Here is the same map in the Topo Layer.

I specifically would like the following feedback: What would make this most convincingly an 1880 snapshot? What needs to mapped? I have a railroad, two rail stations. All the roads are “highway=track” because that’s what roads were in that era – dirt and only dirt. I have a few buildings but will place some more – those which might be historically important when I later catch my mapping up to the modern era.

What else should I include? There weren’t many parks back then – just a few “city parks”, and urban infrastructure outside of major cities was pretty minimal. Maybe a water tower for Apple River? Maybe a few schools?

Music to map by: Sims, “Tape Deck.”

Many Lines

I have drawn many, many lines.

The contour work for Makaska is coming along. I made the decision to complete ALL the contours before placing infrastructure, and so far except for one little experiment at the southwestern border (which was meant mostly to give some hints to my southern neighbor since he’s building a metropolis right across the frontier), I have stuck to my plan.

Overall, I feel happy with my progress. Below is a current screenshot in JOSM. The contour work is divided into 6 separate “degree square” files (you can see the “edges” of each layer file) but I can load them all into JOSM to view my progress, although for actual work I’ll close all of them except the one where I’m working. I also have the “pseudo-PLSS” layer loaded, which is a grid of mile-square “sections” based on the fictional 1841 survey. I think it’s looking pretty good.

I could probably load it right now, except for the band  across the middle, including Freeborn, Battle Plain, Lac Perdu, and Taylor Parishes.

Music to map by: Silvio Rodríguez, “La gaviota.”

Field work for mapping Ohunkagan

I haven’t mapped anything, these last two weeks. But I thought about mapping a lot. That’s because I spent the last two weeks in Seattle and Portland for a family emergency, driving around and thus getting lots of ideas and thoughts for Makaska. Certainly I had already been intending the main metropolis, Ohunkagan, to have some similarities with Seattle (although with a Minnesota climate), situated as it is on an isthmus, but getting to drive around there and around Portland, too, gave me some more ideas, anyway. Call it a kind of “Field research” for eventual mapping.

This is a pretty short entry, then, just to give an update of what I’m up to on the geofiction front.

Now that I’m back in Korea, I may have some more time and opportunity to do more mapping.

Music to map by: Taylor Swift, “Delicate.”


I have been working quite a bit on my fictional “US” state, Makaska. But for the most part I am focused on physical geography: refinining the contour files (a continuous work-in-progress), and thinking about the hydrology (rivers and lakes) and landcover (grasslands and woods).

I did set up 2nd order political divisions (counties) which I have decided to call parishes. And I set up a moribund rural township system which will drive things like road layout, farms, etc., when the time comes, and which is intended to replicate the old US PLSS system (see also my previous blog post here). The townships will also be the basis for my landcover relations – a six mile square seems about the right level of scale for a specific landcover relation, not so big as to be unmanageable once a high level of detail is introduced, but not to local so as to be difficult to develop systematically.

I’m pretty happy with the map already. There are so many lakes! And I’m just getting started. Minnesota allegedly has 10,000 lakes – in fact, it’s quite a lot more than that, from what I’ve heard, but that’s the round number used when marketing the state, and if you impose a cut-off at lakes around the size of 5 acres, 10,000 is pretty close.

I suppose I could shoot for a pro-rated number of lakes for the much smaller Makaska. If Minnesota has 10,000 at 86,936 sq mi, that’s 0.11 lakes/sq mi. So if Makaska has 6875 sq mi, then it should have 756 lakes of 5 acres or more. I may be getting close to that already.

Music to map by:  Control Machete, “Andamos Armados.”

1320 feet

I continue to be really busy with work, so I don’t have a lot of time for mapping or server stuff.

I have been progressing further on Makaska. The hydrology is pleasing, and contours feel like they’re falling into place and that it will be possible to actually finish them in a finite amount of time.

Another thing that needs working on to make a truly “US analogue” midwestern state such as Makaska, is that there need to be realistic county and township divisions. This means replicating the kinds of the errors and styles of 19th century “compass and chain” survey methods.

I am quite pleased with my results – not yet uploaded because I want to make sure the townships I’ve laid out are in sync with my ideas about where the rivers and county lines will go and I want everything to have a name, of course. Anyway, here is a screenshot in JOSM.

My title refers to the fact that the 19th century North American grid style was based on the mile, which is 5280 feet. A standard township was made up of 36 “sections”, 6 miles by 6 miles square. Each “section” was divided into quarters (160 acres, 2640 feet to a side) and those were further divided into “quarter quarters” (40 acres, 1320 feet to side). So in recreating the survey process for my fictional place, I “paced” my way across my entire state in 1320 foot lengths, imagining my surveyors stretching out their chain over and over. By doing it this way, I could introduce random “mistakes” that would render the result realistic, and I could account for the way the curvature of the earth forces periodic resets of the alignments of the north-south meridian lines.

So my grid contains these inconsistencies, and in a few places, I have deliberately failed to “walk” perfectly north/south/east/west, forcing a later realignment.

In the picture above, the little “tic marks” on the north-south “base meridian” are 1320 feet apart.

Music to map by: 블락비, “닐리리 맘보.”


Work has been quite rough, lately. So I haven’t done much of anything geofictional.

However, isleño recently took AR120 “live” in OGF. AR120 is meant to be a kind of OGF version of the US. And I had long planned to make a state in this country. I gave up the vast majority of my territory in Mahhal (returning it to the unused country pool as AN160e) and exchanged it for a smallish “Great Lakes” state. This state will be Makaska.

Makaska is roughly modeled on Minnesota, and other upper midwest locations (Wisconsin, Michigan, Dakotas). It has a large, isthmic metropolis, called Ohunkagan – this is real-world Dakota language, which I studied once, long ago. Many of the place-names in Makaska will be from Dakota, including the actual state’s name.

I have actually done a lot of work on Makaska. But its shape was vague because I wasn’t sure which location I would get in OGF to implement it. So it was kind of schematic, with all these fragments of contour sections, hydrology, counties, etc.

Now I’ve begun the work of adapting these schemata to its actual location. I have more than 10 different JOSM layers, and I go back and forth, adjusting a river, rearranging some towns, etc. I used JOSM’s opendata plugin to upload about 300 placenames directly from a spreadsheet where I’d been working on them. So that’s a start.

Here’s a screenshot of the work-in-progress.

Music to map by: Niloo, “Ola Ola.”