There's a new way to view the cultural resources of Callaway County, Missouri, and for that matter, the cultural resources of the planet Earth. 'Google Earth' Free Version offers a new "3D Interface to the Planet" which really is a new way of viewing our world. Google Earth mapping is based on high resolution aerial photography of our entire planet and the views are spectacular. The thumbnail images along the right hand border of this page barely begin to describe what is available through this new interface. Zoom in and out at will, fly to a location, tilt and rotate for better views of 3D photographs, view 3D buildings and terrain, full search capability and it is all geo-referenced. Create user defined locations and displays and special tours and make them available to anyone across the web. Rather than to rave on about Google Earth, let's see what it takes to run it and if you've got the hardware grab the Google Earth free download and see for yourself.
Google Earth is a combination of satellite imagery, a mapping program, geocoder information and Google's database of local information that lets you zoom all around the earth as well as peer down into your backyard. It is not a browser-base application, but a stand-alone application that you can download from http://earth.google.com/downloads.html. The download itself is 10 MB, and finally there is version for MAC in addition to a Windows version. Since it presents graphics-intensive 3D images, it is not going to work on a really old computer — Google's rough estimate, available on the download page, is that you will need a desktop computer that's not more than four years old, or a laptop not more that two years old. Google has more specific information on what graphics cards are supported on the download page. There is a free version, and you can also upgrade to a paid version with more features, such as integration with a GPS.
You are also going to need a broadband connection. The data itself isn't on your computer, or on a CD (as it is with Microsoft MapPoint, for instance.) Your requests for views get served up from Google, itself, which on my fast cable modem connection wasn't bad at all. The views themselves are great. They come from a database of satellite images that have been taken over the past three or four years. They originated with a company named Keyhole, whose name itself is derived from the Keyhole spy satellites that the US intelligence community relies upon.
The layout of Google Earth devotes most of the screen to the viewer itself. When you first start the program, you are centered 3958 miles above a point in Kansas just west of Kansas City. Underneath the viewer is a control panel that allows you to zoom in or out, tilt, or fly around the globe freestyle. Along the left side of the window are search boxes that let you zoom in on an address, a landmark, or other geographic features. You can also save visited places, so you can quickly find them again. Be sure to download your Callaway County Cultural Resources file for Google Earth and Open it. You're on your own from there.
Google Earth Home Page
Free Google Earth Download Page
Download Callaway County Location Files for Google Earth
Updated individual files for categorized points of interest for Callaway County are provided in the left side of the table below. It is recommended to download and view from the table below. For those of you who have decided not to install Google Earth for one reason or another, particularly if you are still on dial-up ISP, you might want to try the links provided at the right side of this table. These links take advantage of Google Maps to display the same information that is displayed in these files in Google Earth. Unfortunately, several of the files contain errors that prevent display and in several cases, large files will disregard some of the contained points; but, nevertheless, the available information is wonderfully displayed. Be sure to view the maps using satellite images and hybrid images (satellite images with roadmap overlay). Happy hunting.