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Three Rivers Region

Started by dedgren, December 20, 2006, 07:57:49 PM

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Hi David:

I'd love to get my hands on your plugin file.  Do you want to sell it to me.  Ha..Ha..Ha.. ;)

GREAT work.  I've learned so much from you here and over at STEX.

Thanks again.



Oh, I just can't h'ep myse'f...

More Shameless Eye Candy!

I was going to do a post on land division in 3RR, loaded up a quad to use for some pics, built a road across a stream, and...and...

...well, here's the rest of the story.











I'll get back on track tomorrow.

G'night- have a great weekend!
D. Edgren

Please call me David...

Three Rivers Region- A collaborative development of the SC4 community
The 3RR Quick Finder [linkie]

I aten't dead.  —  R.I.P. Granny Weatherwax

Skype: davidredgren


The ploppable water to game water transition is fantastic. I didn't even catch it at first glance! I'll be waiting for the land division update!


Hello there, David

I agree with thundercrack, the transition looks very good. Maybe it's because the stream is narrow, however, still nice work on it.
That area looks great in every season of year. I like the subalpine trees near water and rocks.

Keep it up!
If you can't read my nick, just call me Tom.




Very great shameless Eye Candy!


You have really nailed the plop-real transition. After the land use post, would it be too bold to ask for a tutorial on how you do it so well (the blending, etc)? I've tried it a couple of times myself, but unless I have a fair amount of water to work with, it is tough to get it to look right. The trees are looking pretty good too.


I love this CJ :D Very lovely work David :thumbsup:

Sim City 4 Devotion


On Rural Land Division: Sections, Townships, Acres and Farms - Part One

This is the first installment of a three part post about the layout of the rural landscape in Three Rivers Region.  I believe that the few minutes spent perusing this information will serve anyone who would like to collaborate in the development of quads in these areas well.

The rural landscape of 3RR is deeply rooted in my experience as a person who spent his boyhood years in the United States midwest.  My maternal grandparents, Dewey and Ethel Steffen, owned a farm located in southern Indiana, and I spent at least several weeks there every summer.  I have fond recollections of the old balloon-frame farmhouse, built in the 1880s, with its attic, porch swing and earthen cellar.  My grandparents tore it down in the late 1960s and, because of their advancing years, built a quite handsome single-story house out of cut sandstone.  As I've noted elsewhere, I watched Neil Armstrong land on the moon [linkie] from there on a Sylvania black-and-white TV [linkie].  I saw a lightning bolt from a sudden summer storm hit a nearby railroad track about fifty feet from where I was standing and stared in amazement at blue plasma sparks flying along the tops of the rails at an incomprehensible speed setting small fires in the adjacent weeds.

My grandparents died in the 70s while I was serving in the U.S. Army in Germany.  Sadly, "The Farm," as everyone in my family called it, passed into the hands of others some years ago after my elderly uncle and his wife moved back to the city.  I haven't been there in over 30 years, but I can remember being there as a child like it was yesterday.

Today, I can go there any time I want on Google EarthTM [linkie].  The two corn cribs are still there along with the grassy area out front of them where my brother Tom and I used to play "two-player" baseball.  There's a new silo, but my grandfather's orchard can still be seen between the house and US 231, the paved road on the left.  One of those trees used to produce the biggest, reddest cherries in the world, which practically made themselves into wonderful pies.  I can't tell if the purple martin [linkie] house is still out in the orchard (I vividly remember having to help my grandfather take the huge thing down and clean it every spring before they returned from the Amazon, or wherever they flew south to over the winter) but if the people who own the place now are any good at all, it will be.

Like the rest of Indiana, and adjacent western Ohio, Illinois, Michigan and distant Minnesota, the area where The Farm was located was laid out in "sections" of a square mile.

n.b.:  I'll note here that, in these posts, I'll depart from my usual manner of presenting land measurement information in both miles-yards-feet and kilometers-meters.  That is because I am referring to units of measurement here that are historical facts in and of themselves.  Here, for my many 3RR friends who do not use a measurement system based on King Henry I's lowermost appendages [linkie], is a handy web calculator for converting those length measurements into something more comprehensible [linkie]This one does area [linkie].

The Farm is in the circle in the pic below designated as "1."  Circles "2" and "3" show places where the square mile grid is easily visible.

The largish river to the right of The Farm flowing from north to south is the West Fork of the White River [linkie].  You can see that the terrain to the east of the river is very hilly and wooded.  It was not easy to, and thus not extensively farmed.  Despite this, and the corresponding absence of a uniform road grid in this area, the sections, as will be seen, are still present.

The concept of a "section" of land was developed under the Land Ordinance of 1785 [linkie], a law adopted by the United States to provide for the surveying, division and ultimate disposal to the general public of the vast lands of the Northwest Territory, an area consisting of the present-day states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and part of Minnesota [linkie].

Three Rivers Region lies at the westernmost extent of these lands, and the one-square mile section was adopted there as well.

Sections are organized into "survey townships" [linkie] under the Public Land Survey System [linkie] adopted in the United States pursuant to the Land Ordinance of 1785.  These townships are formed from squares of 25 sections (five on a side) or, as is far more often the case, 36 sections (six on a side).  Here is a diagram of a notional 36 section township.

This form of township should not be confused with the "civil township" [linkie], a unit of local government subordinate to counties [linkie] in some of the United States.  Rather, it is just a consistent grouping of sections that provides for uniform numbering and for specific sections (for example, section 16 for public schools) to be dedicated for public purposes.  The sections of a given township were usually surveyed all at the same time.  The map boundaries between sections were required by the federal government to be deemed "section-line easements."  These easements, usually 50 feet wide, were used for public roads, and resulted in the one-mile square pattern of road development that characterizes the U.S. midwest and plains states, and the great plains provinces of Canada, which were laid out in mile-square sections under a similar scheme, the Dominion Land Survey [linkie].

Here's a pic from northern Illinois just west of where I grew up that clearly shows this one-mile grid.

The rural areas of Three Rivers Region suitable for agriculture are laid out in this same grid pattern and consequently land development has occurred there pretty much as it did in the nearby states and provinces.  In 3RR, however, the first post-independence government, in 1842, rejected the idea of the 36 section township and instead adopted the 25 section township as more consistent with the region's small size (40 miles by 40 miles).  Thus, Three Rivers Region is divided into 64 survey townships five miles on a side, as shown here.

Each of these townships has a unique name, usually taken from a major physical feature found within it.  The townships, at five miles on a side, each further contain four quadrants, called quads, two and one-half miles on a side.  This, of course, corresponds with the "large city" found in SC4.  The Three Rivers Region Geological Service ("3RRGS") bases its mapping on the quads, which are named by taking the name of the underlying township (e.g.: "Low Light") and appending the two-letter directional abbreviation (i.e.: NW=northwest, SW=southwest, NE=northeast, and SE=southeast) corresponding to the location of the quadrant in the township.  Thus, the northeast quad in Low Light township is named "Low Light - NE."

As an aside, the region, based on its size, is not divided into counties.  The units of local government within 3RR are the city, town and village.  These are each described in a future post.  The region also has recognized "unincorporated places," which are usually small rural urbanized areas.  These places usually have a post office and their own unique postal code [linkie].

This post is continued in Part Two, which is found here [linkie], and Part Three, which is found here [linkie].

EDITS:  Fact correction, typos, add links to Parts Two and Three.
D. Edgren

Please call me David...

Three Rivers Region- A collaborative development of the SC4 community
The 3RR Quick Finder [linkie]

I aten't dead.  —  R.I.P. Granny Weatherwax

Skype: davidredgren


You know what david ?

That lightning bolt photo will make a great map !

Anyway good job on 3RR, especially on trees !
I watch it closely even if I do not comment that much ( sorry for that )

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I just loved the "Shameless Eye Candy"!  You really do a fantastic job with both natural and plop-water streams.  So many others over-do the rocks and stuff along the banks, but what you do seems so natural.  Great info about your plans for the rural landscape of 3RR.  I was raised in North Dakota and if you were to run a steam-roller over any hills on that sat-map it would resemble the Red River Valley.  ;)


Very interesting update. I like the history of how development occured in the midwest. I also didn't realize the three river map was based on a real place.


Giligone, hi!

I also didn't realize the three river map was based on a real place.

Heh.  I must be doing a good job.  3RR is in fact a landscape of the mind, but it refers to real places, much as does Lake Wobegon [linkie].

Wherever it is, I'm glad you found your way there.


Edit:  Font troubles.
D. Edgren

Please call me David...

Three Rivers Region- A collaborative development of the SC4 community
The 3RR Quick Finder [linkie]

I aten't dead.  —  R.I.P. Granny Weatherwax

Skype: davidredgren


Quote from: dedgren on January 14, 2007, 11:03:04 AM
Giligone, hi!

Heh.  I must be doing a good job.  3RR is in fact a landscape of the mind, but it refers to real places, much as does Lake Wobegon [linkie].

Wherever it is, I'm glad you found your way there.


Ahah! Thats slightly embarassing. I guess I read into it a bit too much, in any regards its looks very good.


Hehe, as David develops 3RR and it's history, it makes more and more like a middle earth.
And that is a compliment, to those who don't know "Lord of the Rings".
Unbelievable (well, actually quite believable) detail.

I found your township work very interesting.
So if I understand you correctly, each township is a total of 4 large city tiles?
And each quad is 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) square, so are you still going with mile grids, for the farms areas, etc?

Really nice work, as always


Well, dedgren, one reason I came to SC4Devotion was to see your CJ. I guess it would be helpful to know that I'm cityhawk from ST; my cityhawk account got screwed up here, so I made a new one. Anyway, I just love the landscaping and tree placement that is happening in this CJ, and the shots with the bridge over the stream and various other ones with lone country roads and railroads look awesome! I have to admit that I don't read your rather wordy posts, with the exception of the history part, but I do quite enjoy the eye candy!

I'm looking forward to more!


n.b.:  It's pretty clear, based on the current average rate, that we'll hit 2,000 page views here at SC4D early tomorrow, the 15th.  I'd like to thank in advance all of the 3RR Regulars- which is anyone who've ever stopped by at least once- for continuing to be such a great bunch of folks to write for.  It only gets better from here.

Update:  (01-15-07 9:00 a.m. AST  GMT-9)  Well, it was 2,005 and counting the first time I checked the 'puter this morning after getting out of bed (today's a federal, state and, most important, court holiday).  Thanks again to all you great folks out there!

On Rural Land Division: Sections, Townships, Acres and Farms - Part Two

This is the second part of a three part post about the layout of the rural landscape in Three Rivers Region.  As I noted in Part One, I believe that the few minutes spent perusing this information will serve anyone who would like to collaborate in the development of 3RR quads.

It is hoped that you will have read Part One, which is here [linkie], before continuing on.  There's information there that this post builds on- don't say I didn't tell you.  Part Three, which completes the post, is here [linkie].

Just before we stopped last time, we looked at the map of 3RR survey townships.  Here it is again.

To review, each of the named townships is five miles/eight kilometers wide, and consists of 25 one-square mile sections.  The Three Rivers Region Geological Service ("3RRGS"), which produces topographic and other mapping products for the region, produces four quadrangle maps ("quads") per township.  Each quad is two and one-half miles/four kilometers a side, and corresponds to a large (256 gridsquare by 256 gridsquare) "city" size in SC4.

Let's look at a notional quad superimposed on that area of northern Illinois farm country that we saw in Part One.

All those farms sort of swallow it up, don't they?  And that segues us gracefully into the next part of this post...how big should 3RR's farms be to bear some reasonable relationship to RL farms in similar areas.  To start, we'll return to The Farm in southern Indiana.  Here it is outlined in white.

You'll have to take my word on the exact dimensions, but I remember well the 133 acre figure, because most of the other kids in the area who's parents owned farms had farms of 160 acres or more.  I suffered, at 10, from a massive case of "acreage envy," because my family's farm was smaller than everyone else's.  Let's first examine the nature of an acre, then we'll return to the reasons for my less-than-golden youth.

An acre [linkie] is a unit of land area measurement currently used in the United States and formerly in Canada, the United Kingdom and several other countries prior to the widespread adoption of the metric system, which replaced it with the hectare [linkie], which is one-square hectometer (no, U.S. readers, I am not making this up!).  A hectare is 10,000 square meters- a square 100 meters on a side.

Back to acres.  An acre was originally established, according to some sources, as the amount of land a man and an ox could plow in one day.  Whatever the basis, the unit is oddly precise-sounding at 43,560 square feet.  That's a square area...uhhh...208.71 feet on a side.  That's walking behind that ox for like- eight miles or so.

...something tells me I would not have cut it as a non-mechanized farmer... 

Let's look at an acre in a familiar context.

One acre, which has a square footage seemingly more random than a lotto drawing [linkie], equals exactly 16 SC4 gridsquares, and a square four gridsquares on a side?

...tell me another one, big boy!

No, really.  It does.  Here's another pic.

Comprehension slowly dawning?  Remember all that time I spent droning on and on about scale last fall?  One thing that was a given, because the information comes from Maxis, is that a single gridsquare is 16 meters by 16 meters (scaled, of course).  Well, convert 208.71 feet into meters...

...keys tapping...

...63.614808 meters, right.  Now, divide that by four. A little more that 15.9 meters, right?  Now, trust me on this- a tenth of a meter is a little less than four inches/10 centimeters.  That's, if you're an adult man, about the size of your index finger, or maybe a little longer.  That is how close 16 "game" gridsquares come to equalling an acre.  The length of a finger.  Spooky, just spooky.

So now that we know how big an acre is, how large are the farms that the acres make up?  You've been told The Farm was 133 acres, and that nearby farms were larger.  I mentioned 160 acres, and that in fact was the average U.S. farm acreage in the 1930s and a size that had remained stable for many years before that, according to statistics maintained by the U.S. Department of Agriculture [linkie].  Sadly, average acreage has ballooned to over 400 acres, a consequence of agribusiness [linkie] supplanting the family farm [linkie].

The reason 160 acres became such a common farm size in the United States was the passage of homestead laws commencing in the 1840s [linkie].  These laws gave persons who cleared, built a house and then lived on designated public lands for a set length of time title to a quarter-section, which (you knew this already, didn't you?) is 160 acres.  Usable agricultural land in the areas subject to homesteading in the U.S. were largely taken up by 1900, but the land boundaries established as a result have largely endured in rural areas over the subsequent century.  The Farm was a homesteaded tract, but predecessors in ownership, for whatever reason, allowed the southermost 26.66 acres to pass from their hands.  If you look once again at the pic, you can see that The Farm would have taken up a perfect quarter-section if it had extended to the section-line road leading off to the left just above the scale.  You can also see patterns in the tillage of the farm to the east (right) indicating a likely boundary at the section-line.

So, while the patterns established by history are not necessarily shackles, looking at them can tell us a lot about why things are the way they are.

In Three Rivers Region, a Homestead Law was passed in 1852.  It granted a quarter-section, 160 acres, to anyone who would mark the corners, cultivate at least 40 acres, built a "permanent" home and live on the land for five years.  The region's government actively surveyed and built a network of dirt roads on a one-mile grid in the areas released for homesteading, so the layout of boundaries is remarkably accurate...

...of course, having God press the [ G ] key every so often was a big help....

We'll complete taking a look at rural agricultural land division in Part Three of this post, which is here [linkie].

EDITS:  Fact correction, typos, add links to part Three.
D. Edgren

Please call me David...

Three Rivers Region- A collaborative development of the SC4 community
The 3RR Quick Finder [linkie]

I aten't dead.  —  R.I.P. Granny Weatherwax

Skype: davidredgren


First, let me say that the land division update was astounding. Who would have thought I would be compelled to read about farm acreage? And, on top of that, doing English-metric conversions? But it was all really interesting! I never realized that farms were laid out in those grids like that. Anyway, great update and have fun watching the movie!


Hmmm, I calculated an acre to be only 7 squares... intruiging...


Great update! Fantastic names! lot of great information!