This site explores the history of Central Virginia with maps, aerial photos, and datasets to reconstruct the historical landscape.

Contour: the shape of a mass of land or other object, especially its surface or the shape formed by its outer edge.

The term contour is traditionally used in geography. The shape of the land dictates where people live, where roads are built, and where cities rise. But this word can also be applied to history. Past people and events leave traces on the landscape, faded contours, that can be mapped and interpreted just like physical contours.

Aerial photo of Albemarle County from 1937 annotated with buildings and property lines in 1942.

I’m an independent researcher and GIS analyst who likes using new technology to understand old events. I believe that thinking spatially about local history helps us better connect with past people and places.

Contact: erik@fadedcontours.com