Juneau residents, tourists and seasonal workers have the opportunity to brush up on geography by following the nails in the boards of the cruise ship terminal. The downtown dock closest to the tram is home to a United States map constructed to scale using more than 50,000 nails.
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The map's creator, Michael Orelove, started the Juneau Map of the United States project on the dock in 2004 after approval from the city. Orelove said he consistently noticed the positioning of Alaska and Hawaii on maps - off the coast of California. He wanted to give people a realistic sense of where Alaska is in relation to other states, he said.
Over the years, tourists, school classes, volunteer organizations and community members have made their own additions to the map. The Coast Guard nailed the Great Lakes. Orelove has also spent time near the map handing tourists a nail to mark their hometowns. More than 400 visitors signed the log book and pounded nails into the dock, further delineating places.
The map is a work in progress, Orelove said. He just drafted a letter to hand out to walking-tour operators, bus and taxi drivers asking them to carry a hammer and bag of nails and encourage visitors to add a nail to the map of their hometown. State quarters are also being added to the map as they are released. The quarters mark a state's capital on the map.
The map combines science, education and fun, Orelove said.
"I like the Texas tourists," he said. "The map puts Alaska in its right place. I step across Texas in two steps. I step across Alaska in six. It's the Texas two-step."
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