Finding Junkins From Space

By Ken Junkins; published in JFA newsletter no. 15, Winter 2006

Google Earth offers an opportunity to visit far away places from the comfort of your desk.

The Internet has offered new and expanding opportunities to research and document family history. One recent new tool that I have discovered is "Google Earth." For anyone who has not played with this new free toy, I recommend it highly.

Google Earth (GE) is a combination of web-based geographic information systems (GIS), a small program on your computer, and input from millions of people around the world. By combining the efforts of government satellite photos and special modeling tools with the knowledge and input of users throughout the world, it is now easy to locate historic and interesting sites with just a few keystrokes.

Warning: This is not for the weak of…well, computer. If you have dial-up service with a slow modem, or an old computer that does not process graphics very quickly, I highly suggest you visit your local university, high school, library or cyber cafe to explore GE. If, on the other hand, you have a computer made in the last five years or so, and DSL, cable or other Broadband connection to the Internet, you should be able to easily check out the "Junkins Farm Arch" in York, Maine as seen from space.

Start with a visit to Google Earth (

Download either the free version of GE, or the Plus ($20) or Pro ($400) versions. (You only really need the Pro version if you are going to do some GSI research or presentation. It is intended for urban or environmental planning.) The Plus version offers faster access, higher resolution printing and GPS data import, not features I have found a need for yet. Remember to check out the system requirements information before downloading and installing the software.

Once you have loaded GE and started it, you will see a 3-D representation of earth from space. Use your mouse to become familiar with navigating around the world. Spin the planet, zoom in or out, even change your viewing angle. Explore many of the other features as well, such as terrain view and 3-D buildings. One of the fun things I did when exploring early on was to fly over the Grand Canyon, with a low angle view, and terrain on. It was fun to explore the various side canyons. If you do it, see if you can find the kayakers. Locate familiar places like your home, your office, your favorite park. Find barges on the Mississippi, traffic jams in Puerto Rico or look down on the Magic Kingdom in Florida.

The images your are looking at were taken by satellite from space. Sometimes the resolution is incredibly good (go to Paris and look at the line of people waiting to visit the Eiffel Tower). Sometimes the resolution is bad, or the pictures are out of date. For example, my housing development, which broke ground over two years ago, is still not visible as of this writing. If you go there to look, all you see is woods.

Up until a few months ago, much of Maine also was not very high resolution. I was unable to find my dad's house in York. Just recently, though, the Maine Office of GIS made available some very good high resolution photographs of the state available to Google Earth, which prompted me to write this article.

The most amazing part of GE is the user community. GE offers anyone the opportunity to locate, identify, and annotate places and to share them with everyone. For example, someone is following along with the popular television show The Amazing Race, and marking each location that the racing teams visit. National Geographic has a series of "tours" available.

And, I have begun to locate and annotate places of interest to the JFA. So far, I have located and annotated: the garrison, Daniel and Sylvester cellar holes; the Grant, Alfred and Alan Junkins houses; the Elijah, Samuel, Alexander and Three Trees burial grounds; the McIntire garrison; and the Junkins arch.

I currently have 10 places located and hopefully, by the time this newsletter is delivered to you, there will be more. They are:

JFA - Grant House
JFA - Junkins Farm Arch
JFA - Alfred B. Junkins House
JFA - McIntire Garrison House
JFA - Elijah Burial Ground
JFA - Samuel Junkins burial ground
JFA - Daniel Junkins homestead (cellar hole)
JFA - Daniel Junkins burial ground
JFA - Alan and Betty Junkins house
JFA - Junkins Garrison (cellar hole)

To find them for yourself, select Google Earth Community from the GE web site, then select Search. In the Username area, enter KenJunkins (no space) and you will get a list of entries I have put there so far. The ones starting with "JFA -" will be pertinent to the Association. Select one and then follow the Open This Placemark link. You will be flown directly there in Google Earth.

Over time, I will be working with my dad and other cousins to locate burial grounds, houses, homesteads and other important places, and posting them in the GE community for you to visit.

I hope you have fun with this. If you have any JFA sites you want to make available, let me know (send me the GPS co-ordinates), or do it yourself and make sure you put "JFA -" in front so we can all find it.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License