Though much of the history of cartography involves map-makers striving to capture the world in increasingly accurate scientific detail, sometimes the domain of the map-maker is to capture the plane of imagined, metaphorical, allegorical, or even spiritual. Such is the journey you’ll take on the “Gospel Temperance Railroad,” a 1908 map creation by George E. Bula.
The map charts a robust transit system between three main population centers: Decisionville, the Celestial City, and the City of Destruction, with additional scenic Railway Divisions heading toward Rumjug Lake and Beer Lake.
The Great Celestial route runs east/west between Decisionville (located in the State of Accountability, and end-of-the-line Celestial City, eventually running parallel to the River of Life. Stops along this route include Assuranceville, Patience, a cut through the Affliction Tunnel, additional stops in Long Suffering, Courageview, and Goodhope, with a final stop in the Valley of Death before the end of the line.
The other two departing routes from Decisionville wind apart and then back together, providing an enviable variety of connection options for any railway flaneur looking to arrive in the City of Destruction on a path of their choosing. The middle route (“The Way That Seemeth Right”) winds past Slumberfield well into the State of Conceit before splitting in two. The top route runs through Infidel Park and Confusion Point before splitting yet again at Presumptionville, with one track heading toward Revenge Hill and the other looping down through the State of Vanity, crossing the River of Salvation, and stopping at a cluster of stops, including Heartlessburg, Grafton, Public Opinion, Ft. Dodge, and Votersburg Junction before hitting the southern Great Destruction Route.
It may be more efficient for a traveler to take the route of Great Destruction directly from Decisionville, where there’s only a light array of stops south of Mt. Neglect before arriving directly at Votersburg Junction.
Those passengers traveling all the way to the end of the line through the State of Darkness should consider sitting on the south side of the train for a good view of Mt. Corruption before eventually making stops in Murder Gorge and Suicide Tunnel.
George Bula, author of this map, was associated with the Pentecost Bands of the World, and he aimed to appeal to both children and working men alike with his creation. As the caption at the bottom states, the map is “just the thing for temperance workers in every community. It will be found especially effective among Railroad men and all who are engaged in transportation work, whether on land or water. Get a supply and distribute among your neighbors and friends. Give them out on trains as you travel.”
The map itself represents a coming-together of a growing temperance movement in the United States that would lead to the passage of the 18th amendment just a decade later in 1920, and a growing mobility made possible by the growth of railroads. Bula described his own aims for the map in the following words: “This unique map will make a lasting impression for good on all who study it. The names of states, towns, railroads, lakes, rivers, and mountains are all significant. A copy of this map should be in every home, hotel, railroad station, and public place. It makes an interesting study for school children, both in the public and Sunday schools. It will cause many a one to leave the Great Destruction Route and finish his journey on the Great Celestial Route.”