March 17, 2021
Here's a behind the scenes look at what it takes to do a True West map for our Classic Gunfights coverage in the next issue (May, 2021). The assignment went out to mapmaker Tom Jonas two weeks ago. I told him I wanted a map showing where Doc Holliday's Saloon was in Las Vegas, New Mexico in 1879, when he shot Mike Gordon.
Hint: This assignment wasn't as easy as it sounds. I'll allow Tom to tell you what he had to do in order to find the location of Doc's Saloon.
The Tom Jonas Map Quest
"The very first thing I did was search for a street map of Las Vegas in 1879 but none turned up, either through my map compadres, or online. So, from there I searched for a Sanborn Fire Insurance Map and the Library of Congress had one from 1883. From there I began to prepare the basic street grid of New Town Las Vegas utilizing Google maps, which gave me an accurate geographical picture which I could then extrapolate to an old bird's eye view of a Las Vegas drawing, which gave me more information to use.
"Although most of the old street alignments agreed with the modern map, some of the street names had changed several times (Centre Street became Center and then part of it became Lincoln Avenue, for example). The final names in some cases are "best guess." Finally, extrapolating between old photos and historical accounts, I was able to pinpoint the precise location from a statement from Insiders Las Vegas which Gary Roberts had sent to you (BBB) and you sent on to me:
“According to a picture from the Citizen’s Committee for Historic Preservation, Las Vegas Photographic Archive, Hilmar Collection, Doc Holliday owned a bar on Center Street in 1879, which is now E. Lincoln Avenue. It is located two storefronts down from Southwest Financial Services in a one story building.”
"A look at the Google Earth street view of Lincoln Avenue shows a modern business called Southwest Financial Services. Two storefronts to the left is a green storefront—apparently vacant. From there, everything fell into place. Whew!"
And, here is Tom's clean and mean map which will appear in our featured Classic Gunfights coverage ("The Man With No Nose") in the May issue of True West magazine.
But now you know, it wasn't all that simple to execute.
"I have an existential map. It has 'You are here' written all over it."
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