Local woman recognized for “bizarre” map of international sign


ALBANY TOWNSHIP — That unique road sign captured on camera by thousands of tourists each year showing the distance to Paris, Peru, Mexico and other foreign places will become even more famous now that Gail Aloisio has based a map contest entry on it.

Aloisio, a student at White Mountains Community College in Berlin, N.H., is studying spatial information technology. When her instructor assigned the entire cartography class to participate in the National Bizarre Map Contest, Aloisio brainstormed many ideas until she realized a great candidate was right in her backyard, only eight miles from her home.

The famous sign, standing at the intersection of Routes 5 and 35 in the hamlet of Lynchville is one of the oldest “international” signs in the nation, according to Bethel Historical Society records, said Aloisio, who estimate its age at nearly a century.

The same sign, however, has been replaced many times because of theft.

She made it bizarre by not only mapping each of the towns listed on the sign, but by also adding the shape of the country for which each town was named.

Her entry was to “catch people’s attention and to appeal to both professional judges and the general public,” she said.

When she submitted it by the deadline March 2, nearly 80 other map designers had also submitted their bizarre ideas.

She learned last week that she made the top 10.

Now, she must wait until April 26 to learn whether she will make it into the top three. Viewers of the 10 maps can vote for their favorite. The winners will receive $5,000 for first place; $1,000 for second; $600 for third, and each of the remaining top 10 will receive $200.

The contest is sponsored and affiliated with San Diego State University and the National Geotechnology Center, which is affiliated with the National Science Foundation.

The Web site, showing each map and an explanation by the designer, is http://bizarremap.sdsu.edu/index.html

Other bizarre maps show the United States as a constellation, the top “Staycation” places in the country, and several others.

Aloisio, daughter of Joe and Alison Aloisio, graduated from the University of Maine in ecology and environmental science. She is pursuing a community college degree so she can specialize in geographic information systems and work in regional planning or similar fields.

If she wins, she plans to put the money toward her student loans.

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