New Book Includes First Printed Map Of Roanoke

One of the earliest know maps of Virginia
One of the earliest know maps of Virginia

When did Big Lick first show up on a printed map?

In the upcoming “Mapping Virginia: From the Age of Exploration to the Civil War,” author and former Roanoke-area resident Bill Wooldridge writes of Henry S. Tanner’s great map. “Zooming in on the minute details. . . creates a sensation like coming in by plane on a clear day to an area you previously knew only from the ground. One example of the fine mesh of Tanner’s net is his prescient inclusion of Big Lick in (then) southern Botetourt County.”

Mapping Virginia is the culmination of what started 40 years ago as Bill Wooldridge’s pastime, and in time became the largest-ever private collection of Virginia maps. The book launches at The Mariners’ Museum in Newport News at 7 p.m. on Nov. 8 with a talk by Wooldridge, an exhibition of selected maps from his collection, and a reception and book signing.
The book is being published by the University of Virginia Press, and includes hundreds of maps from Virginia’s first 300 years, more than half of them in color. Mapping Virginia documents Virginia’s fascinating cartographical heritage, watching the state assume its current form from preceding Jamestown to the Civil War.
With “Virginia” first coming into use in 1584, the state’s identity and boundaries evolved dramatically over time, royal charters would locate Virginia anywhere from the sandy beaches of Bermuda to the tree-lined coasts of New England.
The book will launch November 8 at 7 PM with an event at The Mariners’ Museum. Prior to the lecture by Wooldridge, several rare maps from the Wooldridge Collection will be on display. The maps are currently held in The Mariners’ Museum Library. A book signing and light reception will follow.
Those who purchase the book the night of the launch are eligible to receive a free, limited edition map from Wooldridge’s collection, signed by the author. The book will also be available wherever books are sold, and through major online retailers.
William C. Wooldridge, called the “Dean of Virginia map collectors, is a former president of the Norfolk Historical Society and retired from the Norfolk and Western Railroad and Norfolk Southern Corporation. He and his wife, Joyce, live in Suffolk.
The Mariners’ Museum, an educational, non-profit institution accredited by the American Association of Museums, preserves and interprets maritime history through an international collection of ship models, figureheads, paintings and other maritime artifacts. It is home to the USS Monitor Center, which is the official repository for artifacts recovered from the Civil War ironclad ship. Its library, housed on the neighboring Christopher Newport University campus, is the largest maritime library in the Western Hemisphere. For more information, visit