Statistical Atlas

Old maps have a certain charm, don’t they?

Sea serpents, buried treasures, lands yet to be explored …

Map of the northern part and parts of the southern parts of the Americas by Abbot Claude Bernou, circa 1681, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

They stir a whisper of wanderlust, even in the heart of this happy homebody.

Similarly struck by historical maps, a statistician named Nathan Yau has made it his mission to recreate maps of my favorite country in the world (this one, of course!). Yau’s maps are updated versions of maps he unearthed in the original Statistical Atlas of the United States, which was based on the 1870 census.

While these maps aren’t the sort that feature X’s marking moth-eaten mysteries, they do contain an abundance of fascinating facts rarely recorded until the late 1800s.


Statistical Atlas of the United States, 1880, Popular Vote,

“Up to that point, cartographers mostly made maps that captured physical features of the landscape: a river here, a city there, and so on. But the Statistical Atlas did something very different: It also mapped things you can’t see directly, things like crop yields, the prevalence of disease, the provenance of people,” explains Greg Miller of Wired. “It freed data that had been locked up in lists and tables and made it spatial.”

When he learned that recent U.S. Census Bureau budget cuts thwarted a plan to publish a new atlas from 2010 data (the last one was made in 2000), Nathan Yau was inspired to start scouring government websites for data so that he could update the atlas on his own.

“Ever since I found out about the Statistical Atlas of the United States, historically produced by the Census Bureau, it annoyed me that there wasn’t one in the works for the 2010 Census due to cuts in funding,” says Yau. “I got to thinking, hey, I could do that. And if I did, I wouldn’t have to be annoyed anymore. So I recreated the original Statistical Atlas of the United States with current data. I used similar styling, and had one main rule for myself: All the data had to be publicly available and come from government sites.”

He combed the 1870 atlas and made 59 comparable maps and charts (rather lovely to look at) that covered the same features, from annual rainfall to ancestry. The maps are available for your trivia treasure hunting at




Did you collect Breyer horses as a youngster?

Photo by Appaloosa via Flickr

Maybe you still do? (I purchased some Breyer cows on eBay for my grandgirls.)

Either way, you’re in the company of thousands of collectors worldwide who absolutely adore these lifelike lovelies and their marvelous miniature accessories—saddles, stables, and grooming implements galore.

Photo by Appaloosa via Flickr

Photo by Appaloosa via Flickr

What you may not know, though, is that model-horse enthusiasts make a pilgrimage each July to the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington for—oh, yes—the Breyerfest Horse Fair and Model Horse Festival.

Photo by Lisa Andres via Wikimedia Commons

Fans flock to the park for “three fabulous days of horse play” in which the model horse hobby meets the real horses that inspire it.

BreyerFest is Breyer’s annual flagship event with tons of fun for horse lovers of all ages! The weekend celebration is the intersection of the real horse world and the model horse hobby with spectacular equine entertainment, the largest model horse shows in the country, the horses that inspired our models, and thousands of families and fans for three fabulous days of horse play. A truly unique experience, BreyerFest offers workshops, free seminars, and many Hands-On-Hobby demos that bring together all areas of the model horse world,” explains Breyer Animal Creations. “And don’t forget about the endless shopping in The Marketplace, the Artisans’ Gallery, and the Swap Meet! BreyerFest is the perfect family festival. Spend the day meeting horses, taking pony rides, painting your very own model, and more.”

This year, the theme of Breyerfest is “Vive la France!”, which was inspired by a rare French breed of horse called the Ardennes.

“Each year, we select a very special guest to be our Celebration Horse, much like a homecoming king or queen. This year, BreyerFest guests will meet a rare French breed, including our Celebration Horse, Simba du Pont de Tournay. He is one of only 15 known full-blooded Ardennes Horses in the United States,” boasts Breyer.

Here’s a glimpse of the guest of honor in action:

Magnifique, non?

If you’re bustin’ your britches to get to Breyerfiest this year, it will be held from July 17 to 19, so saddle up and set off for Lexington, or learn more here.