AS AN


California As An Island: Map or Myth?

Some time in the past, before the ice age, most of western North America (and probably the whole world) was accurately mapped by a technologically advanced people. Who these people were and what technology they used is lost to us, but their maps remain as evidence that they did indeed accomplish the task. These ancient source maps were used by mapmakers in the 1600 to 1700s to fill in the vast unknown areas on the western side of North America. The recent mapmakers had no idea what was there, nor did anyone else, but they had source maps that showed the area as an island and they used them to fill in the gaps.

When were these source map made? They had to be made before the end of the ice age, because at the end of the ice age, the great ice dam holding back water in a huge lake finally gave way and the Grand Canyon was carved in just a few weeks. The Grand Canyon does not appear on any maps of California as an island that I have found, and is certainly not on the map used for this study, the Vingboons map of 1651. In fact, on the Vingboons map, two rivers cross the location of the Grand Canyon. This creates a problem, because the ice age supposedly reached a maximum 18,000 years ago (see Wikipedia article ), putting the date for modern man well before that. This pushes the date back into the realm of the Neanderthals, or even into the Paleolithic period, when we were supposed to be only capable of using stone tools.

An even greater problem is that the map also had to predate the uplift of the Nevada-Utah-Wyoming area that followed the end of the latest continental drift event in North America. (see Wikipedia, Farallon plate) According to continental drift theory, when the continents spread apart, the North America continental plate was pushed over an oceanic plate, which was forced down into the mantle of the earth. The lighter minerals floated up against the bottom of North America, under the Nevada-Utah-Wyoming area. This area was lifted up from sea level (at least in Nevada, where the map shows where the sea encroached) to over 7,000 feet elevation in central Nevada, and similarly across all three states. The routes of rivers changed. The Rio Grande, shown on the Vingboons map as the Rio de Norte, which used to flow into the Gulf of California, was forced to flow to the Gulf of Mexico. The map places a geologically recent date on continental uplift, the uplift having happened after the map was made, putting it within the historical presence of humans on earth. Geologists date the North American continental drift event to the Jurassic period, 200,000,000 to 150,000,000 years ago. How will Science deal with the loss of 150,000,000 years? Since it requires abandoning a well entrenched worldview, it is most likely that the vast majority of academia will simply ignore this study and its implications.

In the following series of articles, I analyze the Johannes Vingboons "California as an Island" map area by area. I show that the makers of the original map possessed a detailed knowledge of the geography of western North America. Correlation of features on the map to actual locations demonstrates that the map is very accurate. After the analysis of the map I have included some information on the historical mapmaking and exploration of this area by the Spanish after the arrival of Columbus. The Spanish were extremely slow to explore this area, and the information they had was not allowed to be made public because they needed to protect information on their trade routes from their competitors. Vingboons could not have been using Spanish information to present California as an island.

These articles are my work and the result of my research. I have referenced all the sources I have used. None of these sources presents "California as an Island" as anything more than a myth. I graduated from UCLA in 1976 from the School of Engineering. I followed the course of study in chemical engineering. I was introduced to the whole topic of California as an island in about 2008 by Cliff Paiva, who was also researching the locations of features on the map. We have taken different paths in our efforts to decipher the map, but I much appreciate Cliff's getting me started.

If you have any questions regarding these articles, you can email me at


Glen McLaughlin: The Mapping of California, An Illustrated Checklist

Stanford Library, Glen McLaughlin Map Collection: California as an Island

Donald Mark Kennedy

How this project came together

According to the story, Agassiz greets a new student in his science program at Harvard by giving him a fish, and the assignment to "Look at your fish!" and report back what he had found. After a couple of hours the student figures that he has found everything important about the fish and reports back. Agassiz encourages him that those are good observations. When the student asks what to do next, Agassiz again tells him to "Look at your fish!". Days, weeks, months go by, as the student continues to look at his fish and make more and more discoveries.

That is how it has been with this project. What started out as a short investigation into whether one could identify the locations of four islands became an ongoing project comparing the map with the geography of the entire western U.S. Several research books and history articles have helped, but most of the time was spent just "looking at my fish". After many hours comparing the map with satellite views now easily accessible on the internet, a confusing array of bits and pieces began to come together into something that made remarkable sense, and opened the door to there existing a map of a world long gone, and very different from what we see today.

All of this would never have happened if I had not come across a copy of "Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings", by Charles Hapgood. Hapgood demonstrated that the Peri Re'is map is an extremely accurate map of the eastern coast of North and South America. The problem with this is that the map was published in 1516, only a few years after Columbus' first voyage. Hapgood showed that the Peri Re'is map was a compilation of at least four source maps, fit together into a mosaic, with errors in the orientation that reveal which area of the map belonged to which source map. Where the original source maps came from is not known, but they were made by a people capable of measuring longitude with an accuracy far better than the Greeks, an accuracy not possible until the 1800s. Hapgood writes:

"We found... that one of the leading scholars in the field did not believe that the charts originated in the middle ages. A. E. Nordenskiold... pointed out that the Dolcert Portolano and all the others like it were a great deal too accurate to have been drawn by medieval sailors." (Hapgood p.9)

"Nordenskiold... was quite familiar with the maps of Claudius Ptolemy which had survived from antiquity and had been reintroduced in Europe in the 15th century. After comparing the two he found that the portolanos were much better than Ptolemy maps. He compared Ptolemy maps of the Mediterranean and the Black Sea with the Dulcert Portolano and found that the superiority of the portolano was evident.

Let us stop to consider for a moment what this means. Ptolemy is the most famous geographer of the ancient world. He worked in Alexandria in the 2nd century A.D., in the greatest library of the ancient world. He had at his command all the accumulated geographical information of that world. He was acquainted with mathematics. He shows in his greatest work, the Geographia, a modern scientific mentality. Can we lightly assume that medieval sailors of the fourteenth century, without any of this knowledge, and without modern instruments except a rudimentary compass -and without mathematics- could produce a more scientific product?" (Hapgood p. 10-11)

Most importantly, Hapgood's research showed that old maps contain geographical features that should not have been known to mankind. The Oronteus Finaeus map of Antarctica for example, shows mountain ranges that have supposedly been covered by glaciers for a hundred thousand years, and have only recently been discovered under the ice by modern scientific techniques. How were these mapmakers able to map these mountains?

Over 250 maps from the 17th and 18th centuries show California as an island. The definitive catalog of "California as an Island" maps is "The Mapping of California as an Island" by McLaughlin. The first map in McLaughlin's catalog dates to 1621. Island maps continued into the 1800s, in spite of Spanish explorer Father Kino demonstrating California's connectedness in 1705 by walking there from New Mexico. But since there were no accurate maps of the New World, map makers continued to supply the market using ancient sources.

Hapgood attributes the ancient sources to maps preserved in Constantinople and later distributed by Turks. (p.9) That there were only a limited number of original sources is shown by their all falling into categories according to the features on the map. For example some show the California island with a flat top, others showing it with a "W" top. McLaughlin assigns maps to groups throughout his catalog according to features such as the shape of the top of the island. Since no explorers had mapped the California coast at that point, there was no way for map makers to know which source was right. As it turns out, both sources are right, they were just mapped at different times and different ocean levels.

Polk chronicles the extremely slow progress of exploration along the California coast for the next two centuries ("The Island Of California, A History of the Myth", Dora Beale Polk). She relates how Cortez mapped only the lower portion of the Gulf of California. Alarcon sailed up the Gulf to the Colorado River in 1540 and rowed up the river a long ways, but left no map. The explorer Onate reached the mouth of the Colorado at the head of the Gulf in 1604, over a century after Columbus' voyage. (Polk p. 261) In the late 1500s, Spanish trade ships followed ocean currents from the far east to the area of Mendocino, where they turned south to Baja. But they would not venture near the coast and so provided only limited information on California geography. (Polk, p. 244) In 1603, on a voyage cloaked in secrecy and plagued with misfortune, Vizcaino explored the Pacific coast of California up to Cape Blanco, Oregon, where they presumed a large river was the sought after passage to the Atlantic. (Polk, p.257). In all these explorations, Polk emphasizes the political pressure on explorers and map makers to find that California was an island. It was in the best interest of people like Cortez that California be an island, because Cortez was promised governorship of the island.

For the first three hundred years of western colonial rule, the southwest was still under the colonial rule of Spain, who closely guarded all information provided by its explorers:

"...the Spanish explorers did their best to collect geographic information via fragmentary field maps that found their way back to Spain, where they were in turn added to a master map that was guarded with utmost secrecy by the Casa de Contratacion in Seville." (Mapping and Imagination In The Great Basin, Richard V. Francaviglia, p. 23)

In light of this, it is not surprising that it took so long for mapmakers in the rest of Europe to produce an up to date map of the western U.S., and to discontinue the use of sources showing California as an island. As information from explorers gradually became available to mapmakers, the mapmakers integrated this new information into their ancient sources in the form of names and locations of rivers, bays, and points named by the explorers. Unfortunately the information provided by the explorers was more accurate in latitude than longitude, so mapmakers were at liberty to apply explorer's descriptions of the California coast to maps from ancient sources with no way to verify that it in any way corresponded to reality. (Polk p. 283). So, names of rivers in the interior were applied to the coastline of the inland waterway.

The origin of the original sources used by Vingboons and all the mapmakers in this era is unknown, but a writer in 1622 notes:

"...California, which is now found to be an Iland, stretching it selfe from 22 degrees to 42. and lying almost directly North and South, as may appeare in a map of that Iland which I have seen here in LONDON, brought out of HOLLAND;..."

Indeed, many of the maps produced over the next century came out of Holland, including the one to which we will pay special attention, the Vingboons map. How the sources got to Holland would probably be an interesting story.

Background on Johannes Vingboons and His map

Johannes Vingboons was a water colorist and artist for a cartography shop in Amsterdam. (Wikipedia biography) He had access to what information from the explorers of the day was publicly available and included this information in his maps. Obviously he had access to some other source that showed California as an island, but we don't know what that source is. However, we see the same shape of the island, especially the north end, in many other maps of the time, which leads us to believe that all maps of this style had a common source. It is interesting that although in some areas, such as the continental side of the Gulf of California, accurate information was known at the time from Spanish explorers regarding the coastline of the Gulf of California, Vingboons is faithful to his ancient source.

Vingboons includes place names from Spanish explorers that are fitted to features at about the right latitude on his source maps. Features that are still here today can be identified from his place names, such as Point Conception on the Pacific coast above Santa Barbara. Features on the map that no longer exist, such as rivers in the ocean passageway through Nevada, may carry the name given by an explorer to something that appears today at that latitude, but the map may bear little resemblance to today's geography and what the explorer saw. The coast of Mexico south of Hermosillo is portrayed close to how it looks today, but with some significant changes due to either an increasing land elevation or a decreasing ocean level (or both) of as much as a few hundred feet. A couple of major errors in the source map turned up: the mountain range on the west side of the Rio del Norte turns out to very accurately map the Wasatch mountains, after one shifts them north three degrees to the correct latitude. The lower half of the mountains on the east side of the river turn out to be on the wrong side of the river, and the upper half of this range is rotated about 45 degrees clockwise to where it should be. About three degrees of coastline is missing just above the entrance of the Rio del Norte into the Gulf. The rest of the map, which is all coastlines, inlets, and a river, becomes a detective novel to find how the ancient coastline matches what we see today.

cal as island med res

Vingboons produced beautiful watercolor works of which this is a good example. The grid on the map is a portolan projection which according to Hapgood is an aid to the mapmaker in drawing the map, not a navigational aid. On the sides of the map are latitude marks in degrees. We will find that Vingboons' latitude scale must be shifted in varying amounts because his source maps were in sections pieced together and some sections were not properly placed. But within each area the map is exceptionally accurate, far more accurate than a Spanish explorer in the 1500s could produce, as was mentioned in the introduction. All these topics will be discussed in more detail as we go along.

Besides the obvious fact that California is separated from the mainland, there are a number of other things to note: the Rio Del Norte running prominently south from the lake in Wyoming empties well south of where the Colorado River meets the gulf today, and so is not the Colorado. As we shall see, the path of the central part of the Rio Del Norte matches exactly to the path of the northern part of the Rio Grande, which is also called Rio Del Norte, oddly enough. Also note there is no Grand Canyon or Sierra Nevada range. In fact there are two rivers running through where the Grand Canyon is located. The lack of the Grand Canyon indicates this map was made before the end of the ice age, before the Great Basin area (Utah and Nevada) glaciers broke through their ice dam and carved the canyon in a very short time (reference needed).

One other book that sheds some light on both the source of Vingboons' map and the problems we will find with errors in latitude and longitude is "Secret Maps of the Ancient World" by Charlotte Harris Rees. Rees documents the history of a Chinese map in the round style that was collected by her father. Her father discovered that it maps North and South America as well as the whole world. Of particular interest to us is the following information Rees quotes from "The History of Cartography":

"...the round map was usually presented as the first map in an atlas. "After one looked at the world, one could turn the page and peruse more detailed maps of the countries that were important because of their proximity [Japan, Korea, etc.]... These were followed by a general map of Korea and individual maps of its eight provinces"
So as an explanation of the errors in latitude and longitude, I propose that the Vingboons map represents a reconstruction of a lost cover map of a map book section covering North America. Just as Harris found a cover page map with the rest of the book missing, so someone found the detail pages of western North America without the cover map. They were forced to put together a cover map from the succeeding detail pages. Certainly they didn't get the big picture correct from the pieces, but who could? No western explorers had been there yet, and most of the Chinese knowledge of this part of the world had been lost, as Rees describes in her book. In the analysis of the map, we have put the pieces in their correct places.

The Lake and the Rio Del Norte

Rio del norte southern half

Prominent on the Vingboons map is the large lake in the upper left corner and the Rio Del Norte river that winds its way to Hermosillo on the Gulf of Mexico. That no large river entered the gulf at Hermosillo in the days of the explorers is pretty certain, as a river this size would be noted as a prominent feature. The Colorado river was a prominent feature at the north end of the gulf and was certainly recorded as a river eventually, when it was politically acceptable to admit it was just a river and not a path to the inland sea making California and island. ( for a description of the politics, see "The Island Of California, A History of the Myth", Dora Beale Polk, page 134.

In the map views in these papers, sections of the Vingboons map have been reduced to a red outline and overlaid on a terrain view from Google Earth or Marble. In the first view, the Rio Del Norte, from the Gulf up to the Rockies, has been overlaid on a terrain view of southwest U.S. and and the northwest corner of Mexico. Following the river valley up from Hermosillo we find ourselves following a transverse river valley, cutting through the mountain ranges at right angles. This river valley is now home to the Rio Sonora. This is the path Coronado took on his campaign of conquest in 1540, (The Coronado Expedition to Tierra Nueva, Richard Flint, page 77) Why didn't Coronado mention a river flowing all the way from Hermosillo to the Rockies? And if this river is just a creation of Vingboons or someone else of that time period, how is it that it lines up so well with the delta at Hermosillo and traces the path of the Rio Grande through the Rockies? (more on that below)

Notice where the river intersects the present day Rio Grande just south of "Truth or Consequences", New Mexico (northwest of El Paso). From this point north, the alignment between the Rio del Norte and the Rio Grande is undeniable. We can follow the river up into the large ellipse of the San Luis Valley in southern Colorado, where the Rio Grande turns west. We have a map of the northern part of the Rio Grande long before this area was explored by cartographers equipped to make such a map. Where did this information come from?

Rio del norte northern half.jpg

Turn now to the second picture, the northern part of the river, which continues north in a path where there is no modern river. From the San Luis Valley northward I found it necessary to rotate the map six degrees counter clockwise to align the river with the valleys in the northern Rocky mountains. (Click on the map for a larger view.) Small alignment problems may be due to the map projections used for the backgrounds (I am not a cartographer). You can see that the river follows the valleys all the way through the Rockies. The river then connects to the lake, which ends up being at the north end of the Thunder Basin of Wyoming, right by Gillette. At least that is one interpretation of the correct location of the lake.

The other interpretation, shown in the third picture, is that the lake was the ancient lake Gosiute. The two indents in southeast side of the lake match the two mountain peaks in the southeast side of Gosiute, the bay at the top matches the opening in the mountains, and the river exiting at the southwest looks like it matches the direction of flow marks in the river bed. (The yellow line is one degree latitude).

Since the map was assembled from pieces, the pieces may not have been arranged correctly. The position of the lake is inferred from the Wasatch mountains to the west and the Rockies to the east. As we will see later, Vingboons' map put the Wasatch range three degrees too low, and we will find that Vingboons' Rockies have other problems. The section of the river in this view of the Rockies, on the other hand, is placed only one degree low by Vingboons. (I have removed Vingboons' mountains from this view of the river flowing through the Rockies). It appears the lake and the river are not connected to the Wasatch Range or the Rockies, but came from a map section of their own. More work is needed on the location of the lake.

Looking at the entire path of the river, if the Spanish, or other post-Columbus explorers provided the information for Vingboons, why didn't they show the modern path of the Rio Grande, emptying into the Gulf of Mexico? And if they didn't provide the information, then who did? And when? How long ago did the Rockies empty into the Gulf of California? Not recently.

The Mouth of the Rio del Norte

The Rio del Norte originates from a large lake and drains a large part of the country into the Gulf of California, so we would assume it to be a major river. We would expect to find some evidence of a river delta if we went down the coast of the Gulf looking for it. And indeed, we find at Hermosillo more than we expected. (It was necessary to rotate this part of the Vingboons map by six degrees counterclockwise to align the Vingboons map with the terrain view from Google Earth.)

Hermosillo lies at the top of a delta that extends nearly fifty miles along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. The delta is comparable in size to the delta of the Mississippi or the Colorado. There is not another delta like it on the Gulf of California coast. The entire delta is being farmed, due to its good quality alluvial soil.Rio del norte at hermosillo This delta was not formed by the present day Sonora River, because I don't believe that the Sonora River drains nearly a large enough area to produce such a delta.

Vingboons' coastline of the river at Hermosillo matches up well with the modern banks of the channel in which Hermosillo lies. The bends in the Sonora river match with Vingboons' river also. This information could have been obtained from the Spanish, although, as I have mentioned elsewhere, they would not have given it to him, and they probably didn't have it, as they no details of inland geography show up on any maps of this area that I have found.

Finally, it is obvious that the Vingboons coastline is quite a ways inland of today's coastline. The current elevation of the Vingboons coastline shows that the ocean would have had to have been about 300 feet higher along the delta. The removal of water from the ocean by the current polar ice caps might be have caused this, placing Vingboons's source map before the ice age. Or an upward movement of the tectonic plates could have lifted this entire area as it did all of Nevada, Utah, and Colorado. The Great Basin area of Nevada-Utah-Colorado was uplifted by over 7000 feet, so 300 feet here would not be too hard. The "Gulf of California eastern shore" page looks at the Vingboons coastline south of Hermosillo. We find that it also can be aligned with a line well inland of the present coast corresponding an ocean level about 300 feet higher.

The Wasatch Mountains

Wasatch mountains

Looking on the map to the west of the Rio del Norte, we find a mountain range that, when overlaid on the Wasatch mountains of Utah, fits beautifully. Note the alignment of both the Snake River Valley, and the Great Salt Lake. Note the ends of the range on the map line up exactly with the actual north and south extents of the range. The extension of the mountain range to the west lines up with Matterhorn Peak in the Humbolt National Forest, northwest of the Great Salt Lake.

To line up the map's mountain peaks with the actual latitudes of the Wasatch mountains, it was necessary to shift the map image about three degrees north from Vingboon's coordinates. This need for a shift occurs in other areas of the map and is evidence that Vingboon's source map was made from smaller maps pieced together. It is also evidence that Vingboons was not using maps or observations from contemporary sources, or they would have reported the correct latitude.

What then was the source of information when the first California as an Island map was published in the 1620s, or Vingboon's information in 1650? This area was not explored by western people until the following century, and even then the information was not made public until the 1800s:

"Several expeditions,including those of Father Eusebio Kino, José de Urrútia and Nicolás de Lafora, and Father Silvestre Vélez de Escalante, had explored large parts of the southwest. However, the geography of this region remained virtually unknown outside the Spanish empire, since the maps and accounts of Spanish exploration remained in manuscript and were not published. Not until the beginning of the nineteenth century, when the noted German geographer Alexander von Humboldt visited Mexico City and was given access to the Spanish archives, did this information become more widely available." Library of Congress Exhibit: "Rivers, Edens, and Empires: Lewis and Clark and the Revealing of America"

Obviously a very good map of the Wasatch range was made by someone well before 1620.

The Rocky Mountains

Rocky Mountains

Try as one may, and I have, one cannot align the Rocky Mountain range on Vingboons map with our Rocky mountains. There is just no mountain range to the southeast of the Rockies that sticks out into northern Texas and Oklahoma. Having worked the problem over for hours (and thinking of the fish) I finally sat back to try to look at the problem from a different direction. That's when pieces suddenly came together: There is a ridge at the southern end of the great plateau that runs across northern Arizona and New Mexico. I had not found a corresponding mountain range on Vingboons map, but had put the problem aside. Now I noticed that the west end of this ridge curves down and then runs east. Hmmm... the south end of Vingboon's Rockies curves down and then east. Could it be? Let's try taking the southern half of Vingboons' "Rockies" and shifting them west into Arizona.

Southern part of rockies

One could not ask for a better fit. We have to raise the section about one degree north, but we have had to do that to other parts of the map already. The person who put together Vingboons' source map simply got a piece in the wrong place. How were they to know? They had never been there. The original mapmakers who had divided up their main map into smaller detailed sections had chosen to split it at a logical break in the mountains at Arizona's northern border.

rockies with 45 degree tilt

Now we are left with what to do with the north half of Vingboons' Rockies. One possibility is that the Rockies section was rotated 45 degrees clockwise. We can try it: this is fairly successful. It does look like the general shape of the Rockies. Most of the mountain peaks line up with peaks in the Rockies. We have no firm markers to verify that it is correct, other than it fits quite well, so for now let's go on.

The Gulf of California Eastern Shore

The eastern shore of the Gulf of California is detailed, on Vingboon's map, with rivers that start in the mountains and run straight southwest to the ocean. Apparently the Spanish names of the rivers were available to Vingboons, because he includes them on his map. As usual, Vingboons seems to be using the Spanish explorer's latitudes of the rivers and towns to place labels on the map. We won't at this time inventory the entire coast, but we will look at the section just south of Hermosillo as an example of the rest.

We can use the rivers as landmarks to make sure we are in the right place. However, the ocean level has lowered or the land has risen several hundred feet since Vingboons' source maps were made, with the result that Vingboons' shoreline is shown well inland of where it is today. It was frustrating trying to match the old map to the new until I understood this.

As reference points, Rio del Norte is lined up with Hermosillo, and the fork in the forked river in the lower left is lined up with the fork in Vingboon's forked river. Shifting the Vingboons map the usual one degree south for this area, we arrive at this view.

Coast south of Hermosillo

The coastline between Hermosillo and Guaymas runs along a north to south ridgeline. (click on map for larger view) The coastline turns in to run up into the valley just east of Guaymas, then back south to go around a small hill, then back up the next valley and so on. The match is excellent, it's just that Vingboons' coast matches where the coastline would be if the ocean level were about 300 feet higher. How did he do this from Spanish exploration records? Why would he do this from Spanish exploration record? Obviously he would have no reason to. When was the ocean 300 feet higher? Before the polar caps formed, in the days that Hapgood shows us the mountains under the Antarctica ice cap were mapped, before the ice age.

This exercise can be continued south down the coast but from here we will proceed north toward the most interesting part of the map, the four islands.

Into the Channel: The Four Islands

four islands island A

Now we will venture north from the Gulf of California into what will be the most fascinating areas of the map: the channel separating the island of California from the continent. The locations of the four islands in Vingboons' passage prompted this entire study. My stumbling on their locations was as much divine guidance as perseverance. Once one figures out some reference points, the process of identifying ancient map features within the modern mountain terrain is much easier.

This is a very busy section of Vingboons' map. Let's start with an easy to see reference point, and one of the jewels of the map, the northern island, which I have dubbed Island A. I was happy to find exactly what I was looking for, but I didn't expect such a good fit. For reference, at the southern end of the island is George BM peak. The mountain range extending north from George BM forms the east side of the island. A prominent peak whose name I have yet to find marks the northern tip. The west side of the island is formed by the next range to the west. The valley between the two ranges causes the characteristic dent in the north end of the island.

Other features line up well with the modern landscape. The lake, Lago de Ora, lines up with with the valley containing Lund, Nevada, just southwest of Ely. The second from north island, which I have dubbed island B, lines up with with Burnt Mountain, near the nuclear testing facility. In general identifying exact features on the western shore of the passage is difficult, but here at least, the Weepah Hills, west of Tonapah look like a good fit with the bulge in the coastline. The entire inland passage has suffered a huge upheaval of thousands of feet, so getting even a general fit is gratifying. As has been the case for most of the map, alignment for this section required shifting Vingboon's map about one degree north. The Vingboons map was also rotated two degrees clockwise.

On the coastline between Island B and Lago de Ora (the lake east of island A) is a point of land that matches well with Stairstep Mountain in Humboldt National Forest.

Island C, third from the north, matches very nicely with Mt. Charleston, just west of Las Vegas, NV. Just east of Las Vegas is a point of land that corresponds to Muddy Mountains on the west side of Lake Mead. The north branch of the lake follows what Vingboons labels Rio de Anguch, which drains what is now Nevada desert.

Island D lies at the southern tip of Nevada, and has no distinguishing mountain, so I suppose it was just a flat sort of island that blends in with the terrain now.

Just east of island D is a point of land that matches up with Hualapai Mountain, just southeast of Kingman, AZ. And just off the tip is an island that matches up with a little bump of land that has no name on Google Earth or Google maps, but it is a good match all the same. This point of land is the west side of an inlet that Vingboons names R. del Thicon or Thiron (I have trouble with some of Vingboons letters). This river may have gotten its name from the Rio del Tizon that Hernando de Alarcon sailed up to sometime shortly after 1538 (Polk, page 146) which was probably the Colorado before it enters the Grand Canyon. This river extends north through the pass at the Finger Canyons of Zion National park, just northeast of St. George, UT to the Salt Lake area where it drains an area that is now landlocked. There will be a better view of this in "The North End of the Passage" section. This river also passes right through the middle of the Grand Canyon. This presents a problem, for either the mapmakers missed the Grand Canyon, which is hard to believe, or it wasn't there yet. And if it wasn't there yet, then, as I mentioned earlier, this map predates the end of the ice age, for it was the breaking of the ice dam at the end of the ice age that drained the great lake to the north east and carved the Grand Canyon. To add to the mystery, the other river branching off the inlet, R. de Coral, also crosses the Grand Canyon, giving us a second instance of the same problem.

Into the Channel: Connecting The Channel To The Gulf

three degree gap

When we try to follow the coastline south from the Phoenix area, we suddenly discover a big problem: the mouth of the Rio del Norte at Hermosillo is in the wrong place. I eventually discovered that there are three degrees of latitude missing somewhere between these two points. I believe the gap should be placed just south of Phoenix as I have shown on the map here. The coastline I have marked in green is the section that needs to be lowered. I have shown it in red at the bottom of the map where it should be.

But what do we do about the missing three degrees? I don't think it is a coincidence that the amount of shift, three degrees, is the difference between the existing north end of the Gulf of California, and the location of the north end of the Gulf found on some maps from the 1500s. I also don't think it is a coincidence that the location of the top of the gap at the latitude of Phoenix corresponds to the latitude of the north end of the Salton Sea. Polk has a map (page 150) by Domingo del Castillo made in 1541 that shows the top of the Gulf of California at 33.5 degrees latitude. That is the latitude of the north end of the present day Salton Sea. Looking at elevations of this area on Google Earth, it looks like the land needs to be only about 40 feet lower for the Gulf to encroach all the way to the Salton Sea. Check into the USGS map of earthquakes in California and you will find that the fault on the west side of the Imperial Valley is one of the most active in the country. A forty foot change in elevation over time is not out of the question. If Vingboons, or whoever put the maps together, had conflicting maps of this area showing a three degree difference in the location of the north end of the gulf, it could have been the cause of his arranging the maps with the Wasatch mountains three degrees too far south, and the other related errors. Certainly more work needs to be done here.

There are legends (for example click here) of a lost pearl ship on the west shore of the Salton Sea in the Imperial Valley. According to legend a Spanish pearl fishing vessel ran aground here and was abandoned. If the Gulf extended to the Salton sea in recent times, perhaps there is truth to the story of pearls in the desert. Thanks to Cliff Paiva for sharing his research on the lost pearls.

Into the Channel: The North End of the Passage

Northern island coast

The north end of the inland passage, according to Vingboons, opens into endless ocean. It's doubtful the ocean was endless, but apparently Vingboons' sources included no information on what lay beyond. Other maps of California as an island provide various versions of what lay north, but Vingboons' map is silent. The exact location of the north end of the island has been elusive for several reasons. One reason is that the Pacific coast has suffered the most change and offers no distinct reference points all the way down to Point Conception. Another reason I suspect is the projection, although I am not a cartographer. Another is not knowing what the error in latitude really is.

The north end of the island lies just south of the southern end of the Willamette Valley, bounded on the west by the Southern Oregon Coast Range and on the east by the southern end of the Cascades. This formation is important because on many "California as an Island" maps from the 1600s and the 1700s the north end of the island is a distinct "M". McLaughlin categorizes maps by whether they have a "flat" or "indented" top throughout his catalog of California as an island maps ("The Mapping of California as an Island, an Illustrated Checklist", Glen McLaughlin). The obvious explanation for the existence of maps with two distinct northern coasts is that the ocean level was higher and/or the continent was lower, and the ocean had flooded the Willamette Valley when the "M" map was made. I believe a great deal of variations in other California as an island maps can be accounted for by changing ocean level during the ice age, as the ocean water was transferred to the land in the form of the great glaciers. Equally important would have been the rising elevation of the land as the whole Nevada, Utah, Colorado area was uplifted.

Vingboons puts the northeast corner of the island at 44 degrees latitude. Based on Point Conception being shown one degree too far north by Vingboons, the top of the island is probably at the 43rd latitude, not the 44th.

Putting the northeast point of the island at 43 degrees, we find that the top of the island falls on an indistinct end to an equally indistinct plateau that covers the north end of the state of California. The salt lake at the north east corner is Summer Lake in Southern Oregon. Notice that the salt lakes in this area lie generally east of the Island California, as if there was a lot of salt water there.

The Pacific coast extends out onto the continental shelf, as it does for the rest of the California coast down to Point Conception.

inland east coast boise to pheonix

Now let's look at the eastern side of the north end of the inland passage. I have shown the entire east coast from Pheonix at the south end to Boise at the north in order to show that the map scale is consistent throughout the entire east coast of the passage. The islands line up correctly, as does Phoenix at the south end of this map. The background map is from Marble with Mercator projection, which gives very good alignment with Vingboons all the way up the east coast.

The north end of Vingboons' eastern coastline fits nicely into the valley that Boise, Idaho rests in. The little bit of coastline north of Boise follows the base of the mountains. The bump in the coastline just southwest of Boise wraps nicely around the Owyhee mountains in the southwest corner of Idaho. Vingboons' unnamed river northeast of the north most island runs northeast up the valley toward Elko, Nevada. Today a river runs down this valley through Elko. To the north of Boise the Vingboons map trails off into nothingness. However, some other maps of the time, such as the Sanson map of 1657, show a rectangular peninsula pointing west from the end of Vingboons' coastline. I have so far avoided branching off into other maps because this project was so large by itself, but here I will just point out this one feature. The name of the peninsula on the Sanson map is Agubela de Cato. It points generally northwest on Sanson's and most all other maps of the era, but it points more southwest in the Louis Hennepin map of 1697 (or 1698 depending on your source). I think that it matches up well enough with the rectangular plateau northwest of Boise to be more than a coincidence. You can see the plateau in the very upper left corner of the above image.

The Central California Coast

central coast

Because the geography of the coastline is so different from the present day, the Vingboons map of the central coast of California offers no points of alignment with identifiable objects from the north end of the island to Point Conception. Vingboons adorned this section of the coast with many names of features that could not have had any resemblance to what the explorers saw, but he gave the feature the name because it was at the correct latitude. At Point Conception, the Point and the Channel Islands off Santa Barbara provide good reference points. Vingboons' Point Conception is about one half degree too far north. This factor seems to be consistent all the way up the coast. The feature labeled "P. San Francico Draco" at about 38.6 degrees on Vingboons correlates with Drake's Bay, just north of San Francisco at 38 degrees. However, the two features look very little alike.

While changing ocean level played a small part in the shape of the coast, I believe the biggest cause was plate movement in the Pacific. Significant rifts extend across the Pacific ocean floor, starting near Eureka and Point Conception and ending at the Hawaiin Islands chain. These rifts do not stop at the Pacific coastline. The northern rift continues to the Atlantic Ocean at New York, and the southern rift continues to the active earthquake zone at the coast of North Carolina. These rifts gradually buckled the continent from east to west, starting during the Flood with the Appalachians. The Rockies were pushed up next, after the flood, then the Wasatch range and the folded ridges of Nevada. Finally, much later, after the Vingboons map was made, after the Flood, the Sierra Nevada and California Coastal ranges were pushed up. The formation of these last two ranges pushed the coastline shown on the map east by over 200 miles to where it is today. Some of this land may have subducted. Some of it was compressed and pushed upwards to form the mountain ranges. As the mountains formed, the north end of the island buckled into the two small ranges that form the distinct "W" in some maps. The Vingboons is flat topped, but the "W" can be seen on maps such as "America Settentrionale" by Vincenzo Coronelli ("Mapping and Imagination in the Great Basin", Richard V. Francaviglia", page 29).

Southern California and Upper Baja Coast

The coast of southern California, from Point Conception to Los Angeles contains some features that are readily identifiable. The Channel Islands can be seen south of Santa Barbara. Most interestingly, island that are now underwater mountains over a thousand feet below sea level are show. In this area Vingboons is about half a degree too far north, so I have adjusted his map down.

The coast off Santa Barbara and around to Oxnard is easily identified, as are the channel island, Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz. The Santa Monica Mountains just east of the channel islands are identifiable. South of Los Angeles are many islands that have no modern counterpart, but lie over a very rough section of the continental shelf. I postulate that this section of the continental shelf, in a scenario reminiscent of Atlantis, subsided a couple of thousand feet, submerging two large islands and several small ones, most notably the large island due south of Long Beach and due west of Ensenada, Mexico.

The alignment of the coast line south from Los Angeles can only be speculated on, because of the huge section of the continental shelf that subsided after the map was made, from Los Angeles to Sebastian Vizcaino Bay in Baja. However, we can get close. The fact that the islands match with underwater mountains, and the map's coastline matches the continental shelf fairly closely is more than we should expect from a map that is supposed to be only a myth. Although with some areas of the map matching so perfectly, such as the Rio Grande, it is frustrating to have such a problem with the Pacific Coast in general.

The east coast of the island has no specifically identifiable locations on it, but does appear to lie about where one would expect it to be in that it continues up the eastern side of the Sierra Nevadas, and along the eastern coastline of Baja all the way to the tip, as we shall see in the next section.


Lower Baja coast

The latitude of the southern tip of Baja lines up exactly with the true latitude. This is reasonable given that most of the Spanish activity in the area was inside the Gulf of California, so it was a well known feature. The shape of Vingboons' map, however doesn't really look like Baja California as we know it. Interestingly, though, it does look quite a bit like the Baja continental shelf. That the Spanish mapped the continental shelf and sent that information back to Europe for Vingboons to put it on his map obviously would never have happened. But with changing ocean levels and changing elevations of the continents the ancient mapmakers saw a much different coastline than we see today. That the Vingboons coastline follows the continental shelf implies that in this area, since the ocean level was higher by 300 feet, the peninsula was even more than 300 feet higher and has since sunk considerably. There is probably a geologic connection to the islands off Southern California sinking a couple thousand feet.

As mentioned in an earlier section, the eastern coast of the gulf suffers from the problem of the missing three degrees, so I have not included the east coast of the gulf in this view. With further work I think the proper locations of the coastlines of the northern part of the gulf can be established.


Post Script - Another Island Deemed to be Mythological

The suggestion that Atlantis was an actual historical event will cause academia to smirk and roll their eyes. However, while studying the Pacific Ocean for California as an island, I began to wonder if we could determine the location of Atlantis in the Atlantic ocean. As it turns out, we can. Most of what we know (if we have an open mind) about Atlantis comes from Plato, who describes it in much detail in two plays: "Timaeus" and "Critias". (See the Wikipedia page ) From the Wikipedia section on Critias we learn: "The Egyptians, Plato asserted, described Atlantis as an island comprising mostly mountains in the northern portions and along the shore, and encompassing a great plain of an oblong shape in the south "extending in one direction three thousand stadia [about 555 km; 345 mi], but across the center inland it was two thousand stadia [about 370 km; 230 mi]." Fifty stadia [9 km; 6 mi] from the coast was a mountain that was low on all sides ... broke it off all round about[21] ... the central island itself was five stades in diameter [about 0.92 km; 0.57 mi].[22]"

What ancient maps of Atlantis do we have? From Wikipedia, Athanasius Kircher's map of Atlantis, places Atlantis in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. From Mundus Subterraneus 1669, published in Amsterdam. The map is oriented with south at the top. This map disagrees with Plato in several respects: the island is much larger than Plato describes it, both in length and width, and the single mountain is not where Plato puts it, six miles from the coast, but centered in the middle of the island.

Oceanus, passage chine, Antique world maps, Old World Map illustration Digital Image, ancient maps, 51

Oceanus map

Atlantis was also called Oceanus apparently, since this map of Oceanus shows the same layout as the Peri Reis map discussed below. I found this map on the internet but I can find nothing about it. I will update this page when I do.

By far the most important map to our study is the Piri Reis map which shows a large island off the east coast of the United States. We see it here as the rectangular island in the upper left of the map. The coast of North and South America stretch along the left side of the map. Spain and Africa are on the right. The width of the island, scaled from the size of Spain, is about 285 miles. Plato puts the width at 230 miles, which is pretty close, considering. The island's length from the map scales to 565 miles, considerably more than Plato's 345 miles, suggesting that Plato's 345 miles is the length of the plain at the south end of the island, which the text allows for, I believe.

So far, Piri Reis gives us a reasonable map of Atlantis. Let's look at the location of the large mountain on the map. Plato tells us that the mountain lay six miles from the coast. Here is an enlargement of the island, (complete with parrot, lower right). The large mountain on the island is the spot on the left (west) edge of the island by the black dot. Now we have a map with which to explore the bottom of the Atlantic in search of a rectangular area with a mountain on the west side of it. We also know from Piri Reis that it is off the east coast of the United States and that the north end of the island is mountainous. And what do we find off the east coast? Starting with Bermuda as the main mountain, we find a large submerged rectangular area with about the same dimensions as given by Plato and confirmed by Piri Reis:   We see mountains on the north end, and Bermuda provides a large mountain on the west side of the island, just where Piri Reis says it will be. The flat north and south ends of the rectangular shaped island are formed by the faults that spread out from the center of the Atlantic seafloor.

So the lost continent of Atlantis is found. And why did it subside? The forty days of rain that started Noah's flood were caused by the single continent Pangea breaking up along a fault line that is now at the center of the Atlantic Ocean. A complete new seafloor of hot lava raised the ocean temperature in that area and evaporated the sea water, which condensed and fell as torrential rain for forty days. The warm ocean floor continued to produce rain for several hundred years. Over this time, the earth cooled and the rain turned to snow, which powered the great ice age. The ice age lasted about 700 years after the flood. During this time the ocean floor slowly cooled, became denser, and gradually sank, taking Atlantis down with it. As the ocean floor sank, it also drew in water from the earth's other oceans, lowering their water level by about 300 feet, and changing the coastlines of places like California.


Closing remarks

I hope you have enjoyed this presentation. It is difficult for people to suddenly be presented with evidence that all they have been taught about millions of years of continental drift, a hundred thousand year ice age, and gradual changes over long periods of time, has all been incorrect. But here is the evidence. I am grateful that the maps discussed here have been available for hundreds of years, because there can be no claim that these maps are recent forgeries. The maps were copied from much older maps by people that had no idea what this area really looked like. They were just passing down copies of the very old maps for our benefit, so that today we can see today just how recently the continental uplift and the ice age occurred.

Other topics I need to include in this study: Polar coordinate around Alexandrea, Atlantis and Noah, Popul Vuh, Greeks myths