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GNIS allows you to use data from the Geographic Names Information System to find locations by name and automatically load the appropriate surface. To access this feature, choose GNIS from the View menu.

The GNIS data is organized in files (one for each state), so the first time you bring up the GNIS Select window you must select a file from the drop-down list and click Load.

In a moment, check boxes and drop-down lists will appear to allow you to define your search.  (Note that for large states, "in a moment" may amount to a few seconds.) 

At this point you may click the Search button to get a list of all named locations in your selected file.  But since that list may be quite lengthy, you may prefer to limit your search.  You may limit your search to specific types, counties, quadrangles, or a combination of the three, by unchecking any of the three All check-boxes, and choosing a specific Type, County, and/or Quadrangle from the drop-down list.  If you choose multiple criteria the locations you are looking for must match them all.

For instance, having already loaded the "NH" file, to search only among the hills and mountains of New Hampshire, you would uncheck the All check-box for Type, and select summit from the drop-down list.   (Note that subsequent clicks on the All check-box will toggle between selecting all types, and the last specific type you selected.  The All check-boxes for County and Quad behave similarly.)  Remember that the locations you are searching for must match all of your criteria.  If you select Cheshire from the list of counties, then select Franconia from the list of Quadrangles, your search will not find anything because none of the Franconia quadrangle is in Cheshire county.

Clicking on Search will bring up a list of items found.  You may scroll through the list, or you may type the first few letters of its name into the Find box to search for a particular location.  (HINT: To search for text within a name (not just at the beginning), type an asterisk as the first character in the Find box.)   Various information about the locations are included in this list.  If you want more details you may select a location (by clicking on it) and click the Details button.

The GNIS Details window shows all the data contained in the GNIS database for this location.  Source Coordinates are given for streams.  Elevations are included only for some locations.

Returning to the GNIS Select window, you may select a location and click the Go button to load the surface which contains that location.  Momentarily, the surface will be loaded from the same map series (large, intermediate, or small) and at the same zoom factor currently in use.  The location will appear in the center of the map window.  A small black bull's-eye will temporarily mark the location.  The bull's-eye will disappear once you start working with the surface.

To facilitate making frequent searches of the GNIS data, the GNIS Select window may remain open while you use Place-n-Time, or you may close it when you are done and bring it up again when needed.   You may use the Back button to go back and redefine your search or load a different GNIS file.

Copyright © 2008 by Dapper Mapper

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