Some people love old maps. Turning the pages of an atlas or plat book from the 1800's or early 1900's somehow seems to open up pathways to the past in their minds, and brings questions about events and patterns that otherwise might not get asked.

Imagine what it must be like to have built such maps, to actually have mental images in your head of the land and water portrayed on the map. Loucks McLagan is a planning, surveying, engineering and archeology firm with ties into this tradition that reach back over a century in the Saint Paul area. They don't have to imagine. More about that in a moment…

Their principal surveyor, Paul McGinley, spent some time with the Archive Project staff at a recent Fillmore Conference, and then offered to open the firm's historical archive to the work to drive a complete historical "shaft" down into the Deep Map from continental views to the street corners on and around the Mississippi River Flats. The Loucks McLagan library includes an original 1856 Saint Paul plat book, prints of the first comprehensive Saint Paul survey, and the maps and field notes from nearly 15,000 surveys compiled since 1922, among many other holdings. For map lovers, walking into the room is like stumbling over a vein of pure gold.

In 1905, John Irvine was a former City of Saint Paul surveyor, with offices in the Detroit Building, on the same block where the Saint Paul City Hall and Courthouse stands today. A young man named Paul McLagan, fresh from engineering studies at the University of Minnesota, joined him and the McLagan Surveying firm was born 21 years later, after Paul had put in surveying stints in Cuba, Hawaii and South Saint Paul. By 1926, he was the part-time surveyor for Dakota County, and the firm continued this service, without interruption, until 1970, when the county hired a full-time surveyor.

Thomas Loucks had begun his career as a principal planner at a consulting firm located at Park Square Court, in what is now Saint Paul's Historic Lowertown. Later, Loucks & Associates was formed.

In time, McLagan and Son was acquired by Paul McGinley, who has over 30 years of experience as a surveyor in the Saint Paul/Minneapolis metropolitan area, and the resources of these two firms were later combined into Loucks McLagan.

Loucks McLagan has provided the Archive Project with a copy of the 1851 plat of downtown Saint Paul, and a complete, well-preserved Saint Paul Plat Map book from 1916, with Paul R. McLagan's name written on the cover. These will become the backdrop for the Deep Map windows into the 1850's and the "teens" of the last century, down at the most detailed levels of the interface.

We couldn't be prouder of being trusted with the care and use of these items.