In the spring of 1893, Albany County Surveyor W.O. Owen received a set of maps from the US Geological Survey for review. Owen had known what to expect, but the others who viewed them were surprised. “The maps are of a very interesting character ...”, wrote a reporter for the Laramie Boomerang, “almost every hill and cañon can be determined at a glance!”
Indeed, the new map was astonishing — mountains and depressions around Laramie had been clearly mapped using squiggly lines. But this achievement was long in coming. For millennia, mappers had struggled to show topographical relief, to capture the third dimension on a two-dimensional sheet of paper.