tampabay.com

Communities vanish from Georgia map

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published December 9, 2006


CHATTOOGAVILLE, Ga. - Poetry Tulip has vanished. So have Due West and Po Biddy Crossroads. Cloudland and Roosterville are gone, too.

A total of 488 communities have been erased from Georgia's official map, victims of too few people and too many letters of type.

Georgia's Department of Transportation, which drew the new map, said that the goal was to make it clearer and less cluttered and that many of the dropped communities were mere "placeholders," generally with fewer than 2,500 people. Some are unincorporated and so small they are not even recognized by the Census Bureau.

The state began handing out the new map at rest stops and welcome centers over the summer.

Gone are places such as Dewy Rose, Hemp, Experiment, Retreat, Wooster, Sharp Top and Chattoogaville, a spot in far northwestern Georgia that consists of little more than a two-truck volunteer fire department, a few farmhouses and a country store.

"We're not under obligation to show every single community," department spokeswoman Karlene Barron said. "While we want to, there's a balancing act. And the map was getting illegible."

That doesn't ease the snub to the people who live in those places.

"This gets back to respect for rural areas," said Dennis Holt, who is leading a community group that wants to restore the good name of western Georgia's Hickory Level, population 1,000, which was founded in 1828 and recently put up five new welcome signs. "I'm not sure we're going to accomplish anything, but I would have felt bad about myself if I didn't say something about it."

Mapmaking criteria vary by state, and it is not unusual for a little housecleaning over time, often to get rid of place names now considered racially offensive. But other states said it is almost unheard of to see hundreds of communities given the boot in a single year.

In Texas, few of the 2,076 cities and towns are ever deleted because of strict standards that weigh whether a spot is along a state highway, has a post office or boasts a population of 50 or more.

Rand McNally, which is North America's biggest commercial mapmaker, is not going to follow Georgia's example. It said a change of even just a dozen place names on its state maps is rare.