View Full Version : Parks and Trails of LaSalle County Project Idea

10-10-2012, 03:15 PM
Since I've gotten some experience creating game supplement and module publications through Rite Publishing and others, combining writing skills, editing, cartography and illustration, I'm beginning preliminary work in creating my first non-game maps publication.

I'm looking to create an illustrated coffee table book, probably printed through lulu.com, and possibly funded between a grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, and any additional funding requirements through a Kickstarter. The book would feature my hand-drawn and digitally finished maps using Xara Xtreme software - my standard mapping application, as well as hand-drawn illustrations of local wildlife, wild flowers and trees. The text portion would include background detail on the founding of each park, all associated histories, legends and folklore pertaining to the sites, detailed trail information on all the facilities and services provided by each state park.

LaSalle County, Illinois - the county where I live in north central Illinois contains 3 state parks: Buffalo Rock, Mathiessen and Starved Rock state parks. The region is especially picturesque compared to the mostly flat farmland terrain that surrounds it. 70' high sandstone bluffs, stream cut canyons, cascades, waterfalls and oak forest comprises much of the beauty of these 3 parks. All feature hiking trails, some have biking trails, and several have defined crossbow hunting areas in various seasons.

I am now preparing the documents necessary for applying for a grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, although as stated above, I am sure additional funding will be necessary and for that I will try to get a Kickstarter to pay for this. Most likely local patrons and regional patrons interested in Illinois State Parks, and those in the Chicago area (nearest large metropolitan area) would provide funding.

This is just the start period, although I've considered doing something like this for a few years now. I'm thinking of including illustrations and maps of historic sites that are nolonger there, such as Fort St. Louis erected on top of Starved Rock in 1687, but not even a trace remains. A study done by Illinois State University in 1948 offers the site details of that fort from an archaeological study, which I now have sent to me by ISU. I will be using other study research papers, existing topographical maps, existing trail maps and actual hikes by me combined to give me the necessary data to create the maps.

I might become overwhelmed, as such a product is a major endeavor - so we'll see how it goes. I'm guessing it will take me about a year to produce all the necessary material, maps and illustrations. I will create a thread of it's own once the project really begins, and I will post my maps in progress at that time. I probably won't be officially starting until the New Year, but I am gathering my initial data at this time.

My perception is that such a project would prove to be more profitable with a much wider distribution in volume than any of the RPG publications I've been involved with thus far.

This will be a huge project for me, so wish me luck - I'll need it.



10-10-2012, 04:27 PM
wow, sounds like a huge undertaking. Loads of research and drawing, but it sounds like fun! And I'm sure with your skills & productivity you will manage :) Anyway, best of luck in getting this thing started! cheers, DJ

10-16-2012, 06:08 PM
While I don't have all the information yet, I've been trying to compare Lulu.com with Amazon's CreateSpace for the Print-On-Demand costs. Apparently a 48 page full color book (softcover) costs $16.38 each book at Lulu, while the same book at CreateSpace is $4.00 - hmmm, not that hard of a decision to make. I still need to see print samples to compare to lulu's print process.

I've discovered that public funds and grants will not available as my project is a commercial one. So it looks like this will probably be completely funded by a Kickstarter project, of which I am fairly certain should be successful. I did get a hold of representative of the Heritage Corridor Society - an organization that promotes visitor projects relating to the Illinois-Michigan Canal historical corridor (which covers Chicago to the canal's terminus in LaSalle County). They may get large format prints of the maps I create as part of a promotion. Many of the funding members in a Kickstarter would probably come from members of that society.

Looking at my current publication development schedule for my Kaidan setting guidebooks which will run into next spring, this means I won't probably officially start this project until that time. Still I am gathering USGS topographical maps for reference and gathering other materials. The process is moving forward.


10-17-2012, 12:09 PM
Great move GP. I've been thinking about other ways to use the skills we typically put into RPG products to generate income from real world applications. I in fact thought parks would be a good start. Hats off to you for blazing the way. I will look forward to seeing how things go.

On a side note, are you sure about the grants thing? I'm just wondering if you were to couch it in an educational / historical light if it might qualify. Maybe it's the wording. Of course, if you purpose to be selling them yourself I guess they would classify them as commercial. I'm just thinking there may be a way around that if you wanted to look into what those requirements were. Then again, if Kickstarter will be sufficient there may not be any need for it.

10-17-2012, 12:18 PM
Wow, that DOES sound like a fun project. Lots of work , but fun none the less. I have always found that doing research like this on a area that you are familiar with generally has quite a few "Gosh, I never knew THAT about THIS!!" moments. Which is great when it happens IMHO. :)

My mother wanted to something like this for the Bruce/Lake George area to your north, but with more of a focus on the Flora and trails of the place. Including the swampland around there. Nothing came of it thougth....except a lot of beautiful pictures and many a swamp-hopping story. :D

Good luck GP. looking forward to hearing more as it gets under way.

04-01-2013, 03:49 PM
I've finally decided to get the Kickstarter to fund this project started in the next week or two. I am currently arranging to obtain event coupons of LaSalle County area events to tie into various payment tiers as incentives for contributors. Once these have been arranged, I will start the Kickstarter for 30 days to attempt to acquire the funds necessary to produce. I plan to make $4000 as the required minimum amount for success with this Kickstarter, though I hope to include stretch goals that will extend welll beyond that amount. I need funds to cover editing, and am considering commissioning an illustrator for some of the flora/fauna illustrations I will need for this book - of course everything else will be done by myself: writing, artistic cartography, some illustration, 3D illustration, cover design, page layout.

Wishful thinking, if I could get a more substantial amount from the Kickstarter ($10,000+) I am interested in purchasing an unmanned aerial vehicle with a camera, so I can fly over intended map locations to capture greater detail than what Googlemaps can provide (that will cost me around $5000 by itself, including a laptop and software dedicate to it's use.) Imagine the benefits of having a UAV in possession to advance the capabilities of my mapping!

While looking for top tier contributor benefit of a weekend for 2 at the Starved Rock Lodge (operated by Jumers), I found myself arranging for book orders for five different state run gift shops (and the book doesn't even exist yet!) So it already looks like I will have many successful delivery platforms to sell the book once it's created.

I'm shooting for a December 2013 release of the published book. I will post a thread in the News Forum once the Kickstarter begins, and I may post WIP maps of the various maps as they are being developed.

Maps I plan to include:
Regional map of sand deposits in shallow seas from the Ordovician Era, 480 million years ago.
Regional map of Illinois River valley and the Kankakee Torrent (cataclysmic event 13,000 years ago) causing a great lake of glacial melt water to burst and carve the canyons of area parks over a 3 day period.
Grand Village of Kaskaskia - native village of Illini Confederation established in 1687 (opposite river bank from Starved Rock).
3D illustration of Ft. St. Louis de le roche (fort built by LaSalle on Starved Rock in 1689).
Present day illustrated map of Buffalo Rock, Mathiessen and Starved Rock State Parks.
Map showing LaSalle County (inset of Illinois map) depicting the Illinois-Michigan Canal Heritage Corridor as it passes and ends in the county.

Wish me luck!


04-02-2013, 02:34 PM
In trying to think of ways of adding content to this book, as a stretch goal, beyond my initial intended composition.

I was thinking of including the communities along the Heritage Corridor with articles relating to past and present, as well as including plat maps of those same communities from an 1876 Plat Book of LaSalle County which I have access. By age, the maps are definitely in the public domain, along with illustrations of various farms from the period as well. Reprinting those maps and illustrations would fit the concept of the overall project.

In addition I wanted to add a few pages dedicated to the cryptozoology of LaSalle County. South of the Illinois River in Seneca, IL (furthest eastern edge of the county) along Dupont Road there have been at least 2 sitings of a 'bigfoot' creature in 1979 and 1983 called the Dupont Monster. Also multiple sitings throughout northern Illinois including communities of this region have been reported of black panthers or black coated puma - such sitings have been noted here for over 100 years. There is even an unreported claim of a giant vulture witnessed in Marseilles - with a claimed wing span of over 20 feet, if it's to be believed.

While not cryptzoology, per se, the first recorded incident of spontaneous human combustion occurred in Ottawa (my hometown) in 1888.

I'm trying to find a way to justify an extended goal of added content for $10,000 (from the basic $4000 goal of the Kickstarter).

My real purpose for acquiring $10,000 is for the purchase of a UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) similar to those used by the military with a high resolution camera to allow me to take top-down and isometric panned camera shots for use in this and other similar projects for better resource photography, instead of relying on existing topographical maps, and satellite views as from Google Maps. The remote control plane, laptop and software would run me about $6,000. While I can certainly create the maps without the UAV, it would greatly enhance the resource material for this and provide a great tool for future projects like this one.


04-03-2013, 02:21 PM
I am still arranging coupons as Kickstarter contributor perks. So far I've got a top contributor's bonus of a weekend for two at Starved Rock Lodge, for a single contributor of $1,000. I am looking to arrange coupons for the Spirit of Peoria, a paddle wheel riverboat traveling from Peoria, IL, going up the Illinois River to Starved Rock State Park - these coupons might be available for a $75 contributor payment. Also looking to obtain coupons for the Illinois-Michigan Canal Boat Tour, and bus tours to local historical homes provided by the Reddick Mansion Association.

Once all these coupons have been arranged for, I will start my Kickstarter to fund this project.

04-04-2013, 08:54 AM
10k? here in canada they've been advertised as around 1500, is are there other fees not associated with the unit itself (just curious)... i could have also been seeing an extremely cheap one :P

interesting project, and well, your work is worth it! hope things go well!

as far as ideas, history always goes over well for books, possible stories and stuff from historical sites, it's hard to give suggestions without knowing more about your project, and i realize you might not want to reveal lots about it online.

again.. good luck! lot harder thinking up content for REAL places :P

04-04-2013, 10:32 AM
No, 10K is what I need for the Kickstarter, plus the UAV. The UAV will run me around $6,000.

I've seen cheap ones for as little as $500, but I would prefer one with more stable flight, longer lasting flight and one with a high end camera. But I will shop around for the best price at what I desire. That also includes laptop and software to control the flight.

While getting airborne involves tossing the plane into the air, the flight plan, elevation changes and where it lands is determined by settings in the software. While it can be run remote control - I'm not so excited about being an RC pilot. I just as soon send it in the air, then wait in my car until the plane lands next to it...