Linda Legman

Vintage Map Series

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Channel Islands Pygmy Mammoth

pygmy mammoth

Charcoal on a 20 x 26 inch USGS map of Santa Rosa Island.

The Channel Island Pygmy Mammoth lived nowhere else in the world but on the Channel Islands.

Approximately 40,000 to 20,000 years ago, a group of 14 foot tall, 20,000 pound Columbian mammoths swam the six miles from the mainland of California to the superisland of Santarosae.

In the last 20,000 years, with melting glaciers, the ocean waters rose 300 feet and submerged 75% of Santarosae; creating the four separate islands of Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, and San Miguel.

Natural selection favored smaller–sized mammoths that stood less than 6 feet tall at the shoulder and weighed only 2000 pounds. The new species adapted to the smaller land areas, ate vegetation other than grasses, and their shortened legs had the ability to easily climb steep cliffs and mountains.

The small mammoths became a new species, the Channel Islands Pygmy Mammoth. A nearly complete fossilized skeleton was discovered on Santa Rosa Island in 1994 of a fifty–four year old male pygmy mammoth that died about 13,000 years ago. A remarkable discovery, indeed!

Without The Bald Eagle The Island Fox Would Be Extinct / Diptych

Without The Bald Eagle The Island Fox Would Be Extinct

Each is a charcoal and pastel drawing on a 20 x 26 inch historical USGS topographic map of the middle of Santa Cruz Island.

The Santa Cruz Island Fox was on the brink of extinction in 2000 with only 80 foxes left. Bald eagles controlled the skies and ate small sea birds and fish. Montrose Corporation dumped DDT into the ocean starting in 1947 that poisoned the fish the bald eagles ate. DDT thins the shells of large birds and causes them to break. Bald eagles were extinct on the Channel Islands by 1960.

With bald eagles gone, golden eagles took their place. They first preyed on feral pigs. From 1994 to 2000 they ate most of the Island Foxes. The Island Fox was saved from extinction by capturing and moving the golden eagles inland, returning bald eagles to the islands, and putting the foxes in a captive breeding program until the balance of nature returned.

By 2019 there were 2,462 Santa Cruz Island Foxes and 50 bald eagles that kept golden eagles away. The Island Fox has the fastest recovery of an endangered species in the history of the Endangered Species Act of 1973.

Monterrey Bay Two–Spot Octopus

Monterey Bay Two-Spot Octopus

Charcoal on a 26 x 20 inch vintage map of Monterrey.

This image won First Place in Studio Channel Islands Art Center′s “Collectors Choice” show juried by Sarah Russin in 2021. Besides the nice prize money it also awarded me a Solo Show in the main gallery that will happen sometime in 2023.

The Two–Spot Octopus is endemic to California. Its range is between the middle of California down to Baja California. Its name comes from the two blue spots on each side of its head behind its eyes.

Octopuses are notorious for their camouflage techniques, they can blend in with the environment so well that they will go unnoticed by many of their predators as well as many of their prey.

This map of Monterrey Bay was my best choice for drawing the California Two–Spot Octopus because of how in fits in the shape of the bay. I considered many animals to draw in the bay, including otters, but settled on the octopus. I alway incorporate the shapes on a map with the animal I draw on it. This is also the first of my Vintage Map Series in which I used tinted charcoal for the water.

Yosemite Means Grizzly Bear

Yosemite Grizzly Bear

Charcoal on a 31 x 32 inch vintage map of Yosemite National Park that was printed in 1958.

This map of Yosemite was taped to cardboard and hung from my father–in–law′s ceiling in his garage library in Tehatchapi for well over twenty years. I was given the map in 2017 when the house was sold. I held on to the map for three years waiting for inspiration to add it to my Vintage Map Series of charcoal drawings on California maps. While researching Yosemite I learned that the word Yosemite means Grizzly Bear.

I further learned that there were an estimated 10,000 grizzlies living in California in the late 1700′s. Within seventy–five years after the Gold Rush every grizzly bear in CA was tracked down and killed. The California Grizzly Bear was extinct by 1924.

The Grizzly Bear on the flag of California was modeled after a grizzly named Monarch that was taken from the mountains of Ventura County in 1989 to live his next 22 years in a small cement and metal cage in the zoo at Golden Gate Park. When Monarch died he was stuffed and put on display. It is the stuffed Monarch that was the model for the bear on the California State Flag. An extinct species is on our state flag. Sigh.

However, to honor these great beasts, I drew one from a photograph of a living grizzly. They are thriving in Alaska and Western Canada. There are still small populations of grizzlies in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. I celebrate the California Grizzly Bear on its namesake park, Yosemite.

Snohomish Coyote Couple

Snohomish Coyote Couple

Mixed media on a 17 x 14 inch vintage map of Washington containing Snohomish.

Thank you to Peggy Faranda who has been photographing this pair visiting her property since 2013 with their puppies. She named them Mama and Papa. In 2017 she cured them of mange by feeding them raw chicken with medicine in it. Peggy has many wild animals visit her property. She is an advocate for wildlife and a terrific photographer.

John Knapp and the Santa Cruz Island Fox

John Knapp and the Santa Cruz Island Fox

Mixed media collage on a 14 1/2 x 17 1/2 inch vintage map containing Santa Cruz Island.

This Island Fox lives only on Santa Cruz Island. The photographs in squares are of John Knapp, botanist for the Nature Conservancy on Santa Cruz Island looking at an Island Fox. I printed the photos on vellum to show how really tiny the fox is in comparison to a human. They weigh about 3 lbs. Beautiful, tiny creatures.

Santa Cruz Island Scrub Jay

Santa Cruz Island Scrub Jay

Mixed media on a 22 x 26 inch historical USGS topographic map of the middle of Santa Cruz Island.

This drawing shows the actual size of an Island Scrub Jay. It is 30% larger than the California scrub jay, from which it has evolved. It also has a much more vibrant blue color. It lives nowhere else in the world but Santa Cruz Island.

The Island Scrub Jay is an example of gigantism. The "Bread Box Theory" explains what happens when animals become isolated on an island: If they are smaller than a breadbox, they become giants. If they are bigger than a breadbox, they shrink (like the Pygmy Mammoth).

About 150,000 years ago the Island Scrub Jay′s ancestors flew to the huge island of Santa Rosae, which was five miles from the California shore. Then the ocean rose 300 feet as ancient glaciers melted and covered most of Santa Rosae. This left the separate islands of Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, and San Miguel. Only Santa Cruz Island still has this lovely bird.

Bear Harbor Brown Pelican

Bear Harbor Brown Pelican

Charcoal on 20 x 26 inch vintage map containing Bear Harbor in Northern California.

The establishment of the Channel Islands National Park in 1980 helped save the Brown Pelican from extinction by protecting their breeding grounds. All Brown Pelicans up and down the coast of California breed in the Channel Islands. The only long–term breeding colonies of California Brown Pelicans in the United States are on Anacapa and Santa Barbara Islands.

Brown Pelicans were listed as endangered in 1970. The cause of the population decline and the threat of extinction was DDT, manufactured by Montrose Corporation, which caused egg shell thinning and the eggs to break during incubation of all large birds where DDT was used across the United States. Since Rachel Carson′s Silent Spring, the world has known of DDT′s destructive impacts. DDT was banned in 1972 in the United States but is still being sold overseas. Dumped barrels of DDT are leaking in the Pacific Ocean by the Channel Islands today and Montrose needs to take responsibility for this tragedy and clean up their mess.

Triple Topographical Tortoises

Triple Topographical Tortoises

Charcoal on a 17 x 20 inch vintage topographical map containing Lost Horse Mountain California.

The California Desert Tortoise was placed on both the California and Federal Endangered Species Lists in 1989 and 1990, respectively. Its status is "threatened," just one notch below “endangered”. It is estimated that desert tortoises have existed for 15 to 20 million years. One of the best websites to learn about this amazing species is on the Joshua Tree National Park website, www.nps.gov/jotr/learn/nature/tortoise.htm

It took me three years to commit to drawing a tortoise, and I ended up drawing three of them on this 1958 10 cent topograhic map from my inherited collection of old maps. This is the first drawing that I did on a topographic map. All the previous ones were on camping maps. I really had fun with this one! First I drew the top tortoise as realistically as I could with all its wrinkles and plates. Then I followed the topographic lines to create the shadow/mirror image under the top tortoise. It created this weird negative space between them. I drew the bottom one with less detail and more map showing through. It was juried into The Next Big Thing 2020 by the Leah Ollman who writes about the visual arts for the Los Angeles Times, Art in America and numerous other publications.

Bay Area Sea Lion

Bay Area Sea Lion

Charcoal on 26 x 20 inch vintage map containing Bear Harbor in Northern California.

Even though you can see sea lions up and down the coast of California, their rookeries are in the Channel Islands.

Do you know the difference between the a sea lion and a seal? Sea lions have ear flaps, walk on all fours, are very noisy, and are extremely social. Seals have no visible ear flap, drag their hind flippers as they crawl on their bellies, make soft noises, and are loners (except in mating season). The California Sea Lion is native to North America and the Channel Islands National Park is the breeding ground for sea lions in California.

Lassen Wolves

Lassen Wolves

Charcoal on 20 x 26 inch vintage map containing Lassen Volcanic National Park in Northern California.

Wolves have been gone from California for almost 100 years. The Lassen Pack is California′s only known wolf family, first confirmed within the state in the Fall of 2016. They are monitored by the California Department of Fish & Wildlife to help them survive. They are doing well.

You can learn more on the website lassenpack.com.

I recommend watching the Youtube documentary, “How Wolves Change Rivers.” It is about reintroducing wolves to Yellowstone National Park and their importance in stabilizing the ecosystem.

“Lassen Wolves” is the first of my Vintage Map Series where I let much more of the map show through the animals.

Modoc Bobcat

Modoc Bobcat

Charcoal on a 20 x 26 inch vintage camping map containing Modoc California.

Bobcats can be found everywhere in California. I drew this bobcat on tracing paper before I chose the map location. I was really happy with my drawing until I realized it was too small and would be lost compositionally on a full page of map lines. I was thrilled to find map #8 which had less map lines and more white space — hence the bobcat became a Modoc Bobcat.

The Bobcat Protection Act of 2013 protects them from trapping and hunting in national parks, monuments, and wildlife refuges. Rat poison kills bobcats, cougars, and birds of prey if they eat the poisoned rodents. Do not use rat poison.

Modoc Bobcat is the first piece of art that I entered into a professional art show in over thirty years. The Next Big Thing 2018 at the Blackboard Gallery at Studio Channel Islands Art Center in California, was juried by Peter Frank, internationally recognized art critic and curator of contemporary art. This piece marks the return of my life as a professional artist.

Joshua Tree Cottontail

Joshua Tree Cottontail

Charcoal on a 20 x 26 inch vintage camping map containing Joshua Tree California.

You can tell that the cottontail in this drawing is on hight alert because it has its white tail up to warn other cottontails of danger. Cottontail rabbits can be found all over California. Anyone living in the Conejo Valley (Spanish for Rabbit Valley) is used to seeing cottontails on their lawns because their primary diet is grass. Dessert cottontails also eat catcus, prickly pear pads and other desert plants.

Joshua Tree Cottontail (2019) was my second piece to be accepted into a major juried show, The Next Big Thing 2019, at the Blackboard Gallery at Studio Channel Islands Art Center in California. The show was juried by Mat Gleason, Los Angeles art critic and curator of contemporary art.

Oroville Red–Legged Frog

Oroville Red-Legged Frog

Charcoal and Pastel on a 20 x 26 inch vintage camping map containing Oroville California.

Mark Twain immortalized the red–legged frog in his 1865 story titled “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.” The California red–legged frog is the largest native frog in the western United States. Named for its red abdomen and hind legs, the frog was once found in 46 counties in California and south to Baja California, Mexico. Unfortunately, the frog was listed as threatened in 1996.

Habitat loss and alteration, as well as non–native species, are the primary factors that have negatively impacted the California red–legged frog throughout its range. In the Central Valley of California, more than 90% of historic wetlands have been diked, drained or filled, primarily for agricultural development and secondarily for urban development. Poisons used in agriculture are also to blame.

I first researched the red–legged Frog in June of 2020 for this drawing. Lake Oroville was one of its critical habitats at that time. Note: Since this camping map was issued before the Lake Oroville dam was constructed (construction began in 1957) there is no lake on this CA map #15. I did not realize how prophetic it was to place the circle of frogs in disappearing stages around where the lake is now. Sadly, as of September, 2022, I find no evidence of red–legged frogs anywhere near Oroville.

However, there is good news for the survival of the red–legged frog because many organizations are working diligently to save this species from extinction: The National Wildlife Federation, Save the Frogs, Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, Wheatley Ranch, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, Fauna del Noroeste (Fauno), The Nature Conservancy, San Diego Natural History Museum, San Diego Association of Governments, U.S. Forest Service (Cleveland National Forest), California Department of Fish and Wildlife and Riverside County Parks.

Buttonwillow Tule Elk

Buttonwillow Tule Elk

Charcoal on a 20 x 26 inch vintage map containing Buttonwillow California.

Map #43 contains “adopted State Hwy 5” running through the tail of the Tule Elk. I–5 was completed in 1957, which tell us that this map series was printed before that time.

The Tule Elk are endemic to (live only in) California. They were hunted to near extinction in the 1800′s until 1874 when cattleman Henry Miller began efforts to save the very few that survived by protecting them on his land. In 1932 the herd was given permanent protection on the land near Buttonwillow, now known as the Tule Elk State Natural Reserve. How many times, when driving on I–5, have I passed the sign to The Tule Elk State Natural Reserve with no thought that the endemic Tule Elk would be extinct if not for this reserve? Thank you, Henry Miller!

Sequoia Bighorn Sheep

Sequoia Bighorn Sheep

Charcoal on a 20 x 26 inch vintage map containing Sequoia California.

Yosemite Gray Fox

Yosemite Gray Fox

Charcoal on a 20 x 26 inch vintage map containing Yosemite National Park.

This Yosemite Gray Fox is the very first drawing of my Vintage Map Series. The California Gray Fox is the ancestor to the tiny Island Fox found only on the Channel Islands off the coast of Southern California. Teaching my students about the Island Fox and how to draw them was how I got interested in drawing animals, which lead to this Vintage Map Series.

Lone Woman of San Nicolas Island

Lone Woman of San Nicolas Island

Charcoal on a 27 x 22 inch vintage topographic map of San Nicolas Island.

The Lone Woman of San Nicolas Island is the first of my Channel Island Vintage Map Series to honor any of the native people of the Channel Islands.

Many people know about the Lone Woman of San Nicolas Island from the 1960 Newberry Award winning book, Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O′Dell. The novel is based on the true story of a Nicoleño Indian woman who was left behind when her people were removed from San Nicolas Island in 1835.

We now know that about 200 of her people, the Nicoleños, lived on San Nicolas Island for at least 8,000 years. They were closely related to the Tongva of modern day Los Angeles. A horrific Genocide in 1814 by a party of Aleut and Russian fur hunters left the Nicoleño population decimated. Years later, in 1835, missionaries sent a ship to bring the less than twenty surviving Nicoleños to San Pedro, California. Many of them died from European diseases for which they had no immunity. All of them lost their homes, communities, freedom, and self–reliance.

The Lone Woman, however, was not on that ship. She continued to live on San Nicolas Island for the next eighteen years. In 1853 Captain George Nidever “rescued” her from her island home of nearly sixty years to bring her to Santa Barbara where she died of dysentery seven weeks later. Missionaries baptized her Juana Maria after she was already dead. Unfortunately, no one spoke her language; she died with her real name unknown and her story mostly untold.

Nidever described her in his journal as a woman in her late fifties, with shoulder length hair, wearing a dress of cormorant feathers. Since there are no photographs of her, I portrayed her as courageous, strong and weathered from a lifetime working in the sun.

I am deeply saddened by our country′s history of mistreatment, slavery, and genocide of Native Americans. As a California artist living two hundred years after the Nicoleños were removed from their ancestral home, I hope to honor the Lone Woman of San Nicolas Island and her people with this artwork and by telling their story.

Louise Gipe and the St. Francis Dam Disaster

Louise Gipe and the St. Francis Dam Disaster

Mixed media on a 17 x 20 inch historical topographical map containing the San Francisquito Canyon.

I want to celebrate courageous women who are little known in American history. In 1928 the St. Francis Dam′s reservoir supplied 85% of the water to Los Angeles. It held 12 1/2 billion gallons of water. Right before midnight on March 12, 1928, the twenty story high dam catastrophically failed, sending a deadly flood of water that destroyed everything in its path for 54 miles from San Francisquito Canyon all the way to the Pacific Ocean. Louise Gipe was the telephone operator that night in Santa Paula who is responsible for saving countless lives by calling to warn people to get to high ground before their homes were washed away. She was willing to risk her own life to save others. The St Francis Dam′s failure is the worst man–made disaster in California′s history. Between 500 and 1000 people were killed. There are many people who owe Louise Gipe a debt of gratitude. FLOODPATH by John Wilkman is a fascinating book if you want to learn about the making of modern Los Angeles, William Mulholland, and this great tragedy.

Guaranteed GI Loans in Reseda, 1950 (only if you′re white)

Guaranteed GI Loans in Reseda, 1950 (if you're white)

Mixed media on a 17 x 21 inch historic USGS topographic map, printed in 1945.

This is my family in 1952 sitting on the back steps of our porch of the house in Reseda that my folks bought in 1950 with the GI Bill. They only paid $49 down and $49 a month because my dad was a 101st Airborne Paratrooper who jumped in Normandy. Buying this house brought my parents into the middle class. 8 million white veterans, like my dad, got the benefits from the GI Bill. Of the 1.2 million Black soldiers who fought in WWII, less than 100 got them. Outrageous injustice!