Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Washington College GIS Program Bringing the Pluckemin Artillery Cantonment to Life

By providing a visual history and developing accurate renderings of historic sites, GIS plays a major role in bringing history to life in truly innovative ways. I was given the unique opportunity of bringing the Pluckemin Artillery Cantonment, an 18th-century military training academy that predates West Point, to life – 230 years after our nation’s army last used it.

This was no small task since it involved designing and building a realistic looking colonial structure from scratch without the aid of photographs or paintings. The only image that I had to work with was the so-called “Lille” drawing that was made in the winter of 1779 by a soldier turned artist. From this lone black-and-white image, and the scant archeological evidence that accompanied it, I designed a conjectural representation of what the Academy building and the long room that connected onto it would have looked like when the Continental Army stayed there over the winter of 1778-9.

Starting last June, Stewart Bruce, GIS Program Coordinator for Washington College’s GIS Lab, approached me as a possible worker on this project. On Wednesday, August 10, 2011, fellow Intern Katherine Wares ’14 and I trekked up to Trenton, New Jersey, along with Stewart and Dr. John Seidel, the Director for the Washington College Center for Environment & Study. There we met with Dr. Ian Burrow at Hunter Research to discuss the specifics of the Pluckemin archeological site. With the new and useful information acquired at this meeting, we were able to set about our project to successfully render a digital 3-dimensional image of the Pluckemin Artillery Cantonment, as it looked at the dawn of our country’s existence.

Here are some of the renderings that I developed for the project:

Finally, if you are interested in learning more about the Pluckemin Artillery Encampment check out this narrated history of the site and the teaser video:

The full animated video will be released at a later date with more information about how this first phase was developed and our ambitious plans for phase two.


Written by Jimmy Bigwood, GIS Intern - Washington College Class of 2012.

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