A total of 488 communities have been erased from the latest version of Georgia's official map, victims of too few people and too many letters of type. Small rural communities like Poetry Tulip, Due West, Po Biddy Crossroads, Cloudland and Roosterville have been erased from the map, but not from reality.
Georgia's official mapmaker, the Department of Transportation, stated that their goal was to make the map clearer and less cluttered and that many of the dropped communities were mere "placeholders," generally with fewer than 2,500 people. "We are under no obligation to show every single community," said Department of Transportation spokesperson Karlene Barron. "While we want to, there's a balancing act. And the map was getting illegible," Barron added.
The state began handing out the new map at rest stops and welcome centers over the summer.
Chattoogaville, a small northwestern Georgia farm community
That doesn't ease the snub to the people who live in those places.
"This gets back to respect for rural areas," said Dennis Holt, who is leading a community group that wants to restore the good name of western Georgia's Hickory Level Community, population 1,000, which was founded in 1828 and recently put up five new welcome signs. "I'm not sure we're going to accomplish anything, but I would have felt bad about myself if I didn't say something about it."
Mapmaking criteria vary by state, and it is not unusual for a little housecleaning over time, often to get rid of place names now considered racially offensive. But other states said it is almost unheard of to see hundreds of communities given the boot in a single year.
In Texas, few of the 2,076 cities and towns are ever deleted because of strict standards that weigh whether a spot is along a state highway, has a post office or boasts a population of 50 or more.
Rand McNally, which as North America's biggest commercial mapmaker sells its maps at gas stations and bookstores, is not going to follow Georgia's example. It said a change of even just a dozen place names on its state maps is rare.
"Our criteria for keeping towns on the map is not just population," said Joel Minster, the company's chief cartographer. "We won't take a town off the map if we can confirm there's still a landmark -- even if there's no people there."
The mapmaker generally deals with clutter by varying the size and style of its print.
Because of the complaints, Georgia transportation officials said they will take another look at their guidelines for what constitutes a "community."
"It's going to take a little bit of work and time, but I think maybe we can get it resolved," said state Rep. Tim Bearden, who represents a western Georgia county that includes Hickory Level Community and eight other towns removed from the map.
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Center for Rural Affairs
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