Ten years ago this weekend I fell in love with photography, small places, and beautiful October sunlight. On Sunday, October 5, 2003, I visited Arvilla, Larimore, Hannah Jct, McCanna, Shawnee, Niagara, Petersburg (seen below), Michigan, Mapes, Lakota, Brocket (seen above), and Lawton, North Dakota. This was the start of what turned out to be a 10-year odyssey. Since that weekend, I've driven 135,240 miles, visited 876 places in North Dakota, and shot 52,483 photos.
This summer, I sifted through those photos to pick out one photo for each of those 876 places. I went through about 85 packs (100 sheets each) of double-sided 180gsm glossy inkjet paper, and close to a gallon of ink printing the 16,682 pages to make 19 copies of North Dakota: Every Dot on the Map.
Those 876 places include every named place in the Delorme atlas of North Dakota (based on 1972 USGS topographic maps). Also included are some places not found on those maps like Sardis (seen above) and Hong (seen below). Sardis was a new "discovery" I made this summer, looking at railroad maps. Like many of these 876 places, it's a railroad station, probably never really big enough to be called a village or town. Yet Sardis is the only place I've found in North Dakota that's a distinct named place with buildings and a sign on the railroad, yet not found on any of the regular maps I used. After visiting 875 other places, I was ecstatic (yes, really!) finding this unique bonus place to top off this 10-year project.
I printed all the pages myself, on an Epson Artisan 835 inkjet printer, with third-party external ink tanks. There is only one paper I found acceptable for this job, and strange though it may sound, it's Office Depot Premium Brochure and Flyer Paper. Regular photo paper is too heavy and is single-sided, and other inkjet papers have duller surfaces that just can't reproduce the amazing bright colors of North Dakota. (HP used to sell a wonderful brochure paper that I used to print a previous book, but they now sell a paper that has a much duller finish under the same name.) And color laser printing has become quite good, but it still can't match the depth and brightness of inkjet -- and hence why I printed all 16,682 pages with ink, leading to many, many cases of "unicorn hands" over the past month.
I ended up being able to get the books professionally hardbound into single volumes, so yes, each will look and feel like an alphabetized photographic dictionary of North Dakota. They're at Phil's Custom Bindery in Seattle now, and current plans are to have them back and be able to start shipping them out in just over a week.
I want to again thank every one of the 123 awesome people from Fargo to Malmö who participated in this Kickstarter! And thanks to all of those who sent wonderfully kind comments. I want to especially thank all those who have been waiting so patiently for their own copy of North Dakota: Every Dot on the Map -- your copy is coming soon!