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GIS in History: Through the Looking Glass – Jordanelle Reservoir

By Justin Sorensen

GIS (Geospatial Information Systems) are utilized by many fields and industries throughout the world. To highlight some of these fields, our Map Monday releases for the 2018 Fall Semester will provide examples of ways GIS can be employed within the work performed by such professionals.

For this map release, we will look at an example of GIS in History.

Through the Looking Glass – Jordanelle Reservoir

The use of GIS in representing historical information can be quite beneficial for understanding events, circumstances, and explanations of particular outcomes. It can be used as a visualization tool within classrooms and a resource for understanding events throughout the storytelling process. One method in which historians might employ GIS is to comparatively visualize areas which no longer exist through an interactive viewing window. To demonstrate this process, this map comparatively examines Jordanelle Reservoir by visualizing past aerial images of the area from 1962, prior to the completion of the Jordanelle Dam in 1993 and the submergence of the local towns of Keetley and Hailstone, Utah.

When developing an example such as this, several geospatial processes are employed to depict the features being visualized within the map. These geospatial processes include:

  • Georeferencing: the process of defining and aligning a scanned map or image within a digital environment.
  • Spy Glass Analysis Tool: a tool found in ArcGIS Online that allows multiple layers to be compared within the same mapping application – (ArcGIS Desktop offers a similar tool called the Swipe Layer Tool).

Interested in additional examples of GIS in History? Check out these past Map Monday releases:

About Map Monday from GIS Services:

Throughout the semester, GIS Services will release bi-weekly maps on a variety of topics, demonstrating ideas and uses for incorporating geospatial technology into research and projects you are developing. To view our collection of maps, projects, or to learn more about the geospatial services offered through the J. Willard Marriott Library, please visit the GIS Services website @

Happy Mapping!

Justin Sorensen | GIS Specialist
Creativity & Innovation Services / GIS Services

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