Benedict Arnold's march to Quebec in 1775: An historical characterization using Google Earth
Published:October 01, 2012
Bruce F. Rueger, Emma N. Beck, 2012. "Benedict Arnold's march to Quebec in 1775: An historical characterization using Google Earth", Google Earth and Virtual Visualizations in Geoscience Education and Research, Steven J. Whitmeyer, John E. Bailey, Declan G. De Paor, Tina Ornduff
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Google Earth provides a dynamic mechanism with which the impact of geographic features on historical events is illustrated effectively. Using Benedict Arnold's ill-fated surprise attack on British forces in Quebec (Canada) during the American Revolution (1775) as an example, various features of Google Earth are used to support this relationship. Traveling up the Kennebec and Dead Rivers in Maine (USA), the expedition encountered topographic and/or geologic obstacles that ultimately led to failure.
Illustrated placemarks were created in Google Earth to document significant sites along the route. Placemarks were linked via the Tour feature producing a flyover, where the placemarks opened to provide a narrative along the route. At the Chopps near the mouth of the Kennebec River, a geologic map overlay was applied to document the geology and structural influences on this constriction of the river that causes navigational hazard. Along the portage route of the Great Carrying Place the trail was marked and an elevational profile created to illustrate the severity of the terrain. Anthropogenic changes along the route were documented by overlays of topographic maps produced both before and after the Dead River was dammed in 1950. Finally, an historical map from 1761 showing known landforms and their relative positions was overlain to document Arnold's understanding of the route in 1775.
This approach in teaching and interactive learning has proven very effective locally at all levels. Illustrations, overlays, and tours created provide improved understanding of the interaction between geography and historic events. Creation of Google Earth files such as these can be readily used and shared by schools, historical societies, and individuals to greatly enhance learning.