Linda Haught-Ortega was determined to make her contribution to history-rich Gila County.
Since the time she was hired as Gila County Recorder 15 years ago, she has been interested in undertaking a restoration project on more than 100 old county maps -- some dating as far back as 1880.
She knew the maps were an important piece of history. She believed they didn't belong in an old vault at the courthouse in Globe, where she found them when she first began her job.
"History is constantly being lost, and with the advent of e-documents we are losing the personal touch -- the live signatures of our historical figures and the way things were," Haught-Ortega said.
Haught-Ortega applied for funding from the Board of Supervisors throughout her tenure, but never received approval in order to begin the project. She heard about a grant from the Arizona State Archives and decided that might be her ticket.
The grant has allowed Haught-Ortega to begin working on a large number of the maps she plans to restore.
"At this point, we are planning to restore 118 out of the original 142 (maps)," she said.
The restoration process is an intense and detailed one -- most of the maps are 24 inches by 36 inches.
"Cleaning, cataloguing, unrolling and flattening with weights so they lay flat, taping frayed edges (are all performed) in-house," she said. "The ones that need professional attention (are) being sent out for repair."
About 20 moderately damaged maps have been sent out for repair so far, she said.
Once the maps are properly restored, Haught-Ortega and her team will scan the maps onto a CD and have them indexed.
Microfiche copies will be made from the CDs and will be sent to the Arizona State Department's Arizona Memory Project.
"The maps will then be available for copies from the CD or fiche and the originals will be properly stored -- flat, in protective sheets," Haught-Ortega said. "If possible, we may have some mounted and framed for display, as some are very colorful and have quite a bit of historical interest."
Haught-Ortega said maps cover areas all over Gila County, both north and south. Some of the maps contain old towns that no longer exist and people and places of historical lore.
"On these maps are things like the location of the Clanton Ranch, the founders and original settlers of an area's names shown on property they owned, old stage routes and the things that have disappeared with the passage of time, such as the hotel that was located where Roosevelt Lake now sits," she said. "Some of the towns are long gone: Richland, Livingstone, Rice, Kirby and others. The only mention of them now is their place on these maps."
Haught-Ortega and her team have already completed restoration and scanning of 22 maps and expect that another 10 will be completed by the end of June.
"We have quite a collection," she said.
The maps will be available to view online at the Arizona Memory Project. Visit www.azmemory.lib.az.us.