Wife Takes Prized Fisherman's Map in Divorce

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After 30 years of work the map printing plates were lost. How valuable were the surviving copies? One man's angling wife demanded the map as part of her divorce settlement. At 91, the map creator worked with a publisher to get the map republished. Now new state stream and lake maps are available. Some deserving husbands could even receive one for Father's Day

now widely known as the

After 30 years of work the map printing plates were lost. How valuable were the surviving copies? One man shared a map with his angling wife until she demanded it as part of her divorce settlement. One person offered $400 for the last copy of the map. And the Department of Environmental Resources kept its one remaining copy under lock and key.    

This is the story of the so called “Lost Stream Map” that fishermen spent years searching for.

Every stream is there. Not a single one is left out.

Even the former President of Pennsylvania Trout Unlimited, William Kodrich, was quoted as saying, "I've been looking for a copy of the ‘Stream Map of Pennsylvania’ for over 10 years.”

Howard Higbee, who was a soils scientist and Pennsylvania State University professor, personally charted and hand-drew Pennsylvania's 45,000 miles of streams on his map. Starting with many large topographic maps and aerial photographs, he reduced them again and again, drawing in each stream under high magnification. Then, to check distances, he modified his car's odometer to measure miles in 500ths.

Finally, in 1965, after three decades of work, Higbee completed his “Stream Map of Pennsylvania,” It sold extremely well. But after a printing company reproduced 70,000 copies of Higbee's marvel over the next several years, the company went out of business--and destroyed the original drawing and the printing plates. Because existing copies had been printed in non-photographic blue, it was impossible to make new printing plates from them.

Higbee considered redrawing all 45,000 miles of streams. But his advancing age made this an insurmountable task. So it appeared that the prized fisherman’s possession,” now widely known as the “Lost Stream Map,” was doomed to a life span equal to that of the existing limited copies.

Two decades later, in 1991, Larry Seaman and Karl Ings, of Vivid Publishing in Montoursville, came across a dog-eared copy of the map and made inquiries that led them to the Professor, then 91. When he told them his story, they decided to do what National Geographic and other experts said couldn't be done: reproduce and republish the map. Higbee added, “At this stage of my life there isn’t much I really want or need. But seeing the ‘Stream Map’ available to the public again is one thing that would make me happy.”

So, following Higbee’s clues, Vivid began an extensive search for the lost drawing and printing plates. But it ended by finding the man that cleaned out the bankrupt printer’s building and hauled all of the printing plates to the Baltimore Landfill.

Then came a stroke of luck. Entirely new printing technology emerged that would allow reproduction of non-photographic blue. At least that was the claim. Seaman and Ings made test proofs, prepared to be disappointed with the results.

“But the results were much better than we expected,” Ings said. “All the details were there, crisp and clear. And we knew at that moment that Howard was going to live to see the republication of the “Stream Map.”            

Professor Higbee did indeed live to see the resurrection of his legendary masterpiece. Before he died at age 93 in 1993, the new version of the map had won rave reviews from newspapers across Pennsylvania.

Before his death, Higbee supported Seaman and Ings desire to map the streams of other states by sharing his map making techniques with them. The two made many visits to the Professor’s home near the Penn State campus, Higbee was always prepared for each visit with notes on 3-by-5 cards, as if he were giving a lecture. Then, by combining Higbee's knowledge with computer technology and a team of mapmakers, they have completed 17 states, with plans to complete all 50 states.

Available at http://www.streammaps.com, both rolled and folded at $19.95 each. Also available is write-on-wipe-off lamination at $39.95 each. A free guidebook and special report, "Finding Secret Fishing Spots," is included free with each map. Phone orders call 1-800-326-9694, Vivid Publishing, Inc., 620 Jordan Avenue, P.O. Box 127, Montoursville, PA 17754.

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Larry Seaman
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