JF Ptak Science Books Post 2485 Part of the History of Nothing series
The "frontier" in the history of the U.S. West is a pretty big deal, and old, the academic concept of the frontier pressing its way back 13 decades, when for the most part once it was introduced it was pronounced to be "closed" by the man who reinterpreted it, Frederick Jackson Turner1. On my shelves alone there are books on the mining frontier, the mineral frontier, the transportation frontier, the Indian frontier, the military frontier,the farming frontier, and so on, divisions allotted by wealth, nationality, numerous geographical attributes, and the like. One thing I think that I have not seen was the Nothing Frontier, where there are divisions divided by, well, sort of "nothing". This is mostly a prosaic statement, slightly poetical, dependent on visual clues. And of course there isn't "nothing" there because there is always "something"--there just isn't very much of it. And when things get colored-coded on map depending upon percentage distributions, and that object of measurement is left to a null color or no color at all, then it appears that the divisions one left to nothing.
[The image above is very expandable.]
This can be seen if you squint somewhat you can see an example of it in plate 26, "Proportion of Population in Cities and Towns of More than 2000 Inhabitants..." Statistical Atlas, prepared under the Supervision of Henry Gannett (Geographer of the the Twelfth Census), printed in Washington by the U.S. Census Bureau, 1903. This map--which is part of an historic series of atlases published with U.S. census data--shows the distribution of urban population in five shades of brown (as seen in the legend) plus a blueish color for "no urban population" as well as no color ("The allowance of color indicates an aggregate population of less than 2 inhabitants to a square mile").
It is that absence of color that makes it a frontier-ish sort of frontier, a part of the Made Up Frontier, this one being very straightforward north/south, Big Bend to Montana, pretty much the Lonesome Dove trail from the rough Big Bend Texas to nearly Canada.
I know it is just a thing I made up just now looking at the map, but given some effort, maybe the idea actually has some legs.
1. Turner, Frederick Jackson. The Frontier in American History, Harvard University, 1920, full text via Project Gutenberg, http://www.gutenberg.org/files/22994/22994-h/22994-h.htm