JF Ptak Science Books Post 2483
Sometimes maps have an unusual ability they can Maps can record human achievement and anti-achievement and show human impact on the environment and vice versa, which is standard, especially if you can see a little deeply into it. Sometimes though there are the little bits--extras--that find their way onto the paper that opens a window to the emotional involvement of people and space, added by the artist or engraver or whoever it might be that last touches the plate before prints are made from it.
This certainly seems to be the case in this cross-section of tough New Mexico earth.
That little adobe building represents the Dona Ana Land Grant back in 1855, when those pioneers had a few decades of roots in the very hot ground there in New Mexico, across from the Rio Bravo, commanding the Mesilla Valley. In the original print, published in the great U.S. Pacific Railroad Survey1 in 1855, the structure is only about 3mm long--very easy to miss until you start looking closely at the sheet, which itself is only 2x2.5 cigarettes high and wide.
I thought the structure had a personality, and looked stolid, strong, and maybe even proud with its long fluttering banner, sitting there in the heights above the river, a strong place perched at the edge of the Jornada del Muerto ("The Dead Man's Journey" or more prosaically and according to Mr. McMurtry, "The Dead Man's Walk")
1. The full title of the eight-volume publication, which was an exhaustive treatment of the U.S. west from the mud below to the birds above, Reports of Explorations and Surveys to Ascertain the Most Practicable and Economical Route for a Railroad from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean Made Under the Direction of the Secretary of War, which was published by the U.S. government from 1853-6.