(+) Waymarking for Genealogists and Historians

This article might be subtitled “How to Have Fun with Your GPS Receiver and Simultaneously Provide a Public Service for Others.”

The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman. 

A new hobby has appeared that is a “natural fit” for genealogists, historians, and many others. It is called “waymarking.” It is fun, gives you a chance to get a little exercise, and also provides a great public service. If you join in the waymarking activities of today, you can help future genealogists and others for decades to come.

Wikipedia lists the term with a description of “Trail blazing or way marking is the practice of marking paths in outdoor recreational areas with signs or markings that follow each other at certain, though not necessarily exactly defined, distances and mark the direction of the trail.”

A waymark is a physical location on the planet marked by coordinates (latitude/longitude) and contains unique information defined within its waymark category. Pictures may optionally be recorded as well. Through the use of your waymarking efforts, you can share and discover unique and interesting locations on the planet.

Waymarking is great for genealogy applications. For instance, you can waymark the locations of ancestors’ graves, homesteads, places of birth, a battlefield where an ancestor fought, the place where great-great-granddad shot the bear, schools attended, and much more. Later on, other descendants can travel to the same locations easily, thanks to your pioneering work. If you also provide pictures, still more people can visit the location “virtually,” even if they are not able to travel there physically.

Of course, this effort is not limited to genealogy work alone. Waymarking has many, many other applications. I particularly like it for recording the locations of historical events: locations of the first railroad station in a town, the first cabin of early settlers, the old mill that has since disappeared, buildings that are listed in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, historical markers along highways, and many more famous and not-so-famous events in history.

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