Lesson Plan

Mapping Tumacácori

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Grade Level:
Fourth Grade-Eighth Grade
Geography, Geometry, Government, History, Mathematics, Planning/Development, Social Studies
1 or 2 class periods
Group Size:
Up to 36
National/State Standards:


Even in the days prior to step-by-step spoken instructions guided by satellites, maps communicated a great deal of information about a place.  They could make a place look attractive or desolate, civilized or wild.


Students will be able to differentiate between three different types of maps.


Search the American Memory map collections for examples and information that will be useful in helping students to interpret what they see. Assemble a variety of maps (contour, birds eye, panoramic) from various historical periods.   


Computer with projection ability, images of maps, markers



Have each group record observations about their maps and answer these questions:

Regional/Historical Context (Image #1)
1. What and when was the Gadsen Purchase?
2. What is the significance of Arizona's relationship with New Mexico in 1882?
3. Why are these questions relevant to a student in Pima County or the Santa Cruz Valley?

Regional/Historical Context (Image #2)
1. What year did Arizona become a state?
2. Did territories have counties?
3. Why are these questions relevant to a student in Pima County or the Santa Cruz Valley?

Regional/Historical Context (Image #3)
1. What area does this map present?
2. Why are there more (squiggly) lines on the left of the image?
3. In the center of the image there seems to very little elevation change, but in the far right portion of it appears a reemergence of contour densely packed together. What is happening geographically?
4. Why are these questions relevant to a student in Pima County or the Santa Cruz Valley?



"We have been using recently our own geographic region as a basis for the introductions to various categories of maps. As you may already know, professional geographers create and use maps as tools to understand and interact with specific regions of the earth. Today I would like to introduce a fourth type of map. Then we will be presented with a set of procedures that will lead us to locating an important historical resource. Finally, we use this map like we would a search engine, follow clues, and use primary source text to identify the location of this important historical resource.

United States quadrangle maps are geographical resources which form the basis of USGS National Map which created a national continuous record of roads, fresh water features, elevation change, political boundaries, forested areas, architectural structures, and geographic names. The synthesis of this information was the product of sophisticated integration of high definition aerial images of our country. At its completion for the first time the U.S government had a national map with the depth of all its resources in satellite layers, completing a mosaic which began with the mapping of its National Parks and other federal fee areas. This was a landmark achievement for the National Geological Survey. The National Map made available a topographical imagery based search engine in which all citizens with internet access could locate and print contour maps with selectable geographical features overlaid and print at no cost to the user.

I have highlighted the major points on our PowerPoint projection that make the National Map so relevant to the American professional and any interested community member. What I want us to do now is explore the primary source text of a conspicuous member of a rural community not too far from here. This individual decided to donate a parcel of the land in which he owned back to the U.S. government. However we will see that this was not such an easy task. The geographic area was donated to the U.S. Government back in 1899. We are going to take a description of the area location from this time period and use 21st century tools to identify the parcel ion question on a map. Turn your attention to the Mendez Source Text projection…

  • play file as slideshow, click to advance following steps on slides and slideshow "notes"
  • slideshow includes primary source text with quadrangle procedure
  • following the 15 slides, refer to the Land Survey Information System to verify accuracy (the map system is a "click to zoom" resource which allows for a step by step discovery of specific townships, ranges and sections)


map, cartography, birds-eye, contour, topographic, panoramic

Last updated: February 24, 2015