Note: This article is Copright 2000 by The Knoxville News-Sentinel and may not be reproduced in any manner. Since they do not have the photo in their version on their Web site, I have placed it here for friends to view. If they object to it being here I will remove it immediately. This isn't the format in which the article appeared. The content is the same; I just edited the format for the on-line version. The article appeared in both the West and North versions of the Wednesday "Neighbors" insert.

News-Sentinel photo by Paul Efird

Mapmaker Charles Reeves looks over one of his latest creations at his home. Reeves has found a post-retirement career using desktop computing to make specialty maps for municipalities and maps of cemeteries to aid people doing genealogical research. He also restores old maps.

Computer lets retiree map out a new career

By Ed Marcum
News-Sentinel staff writer

Visitors to the Map Store on Dutch Valley Road might be surprised to know it isn't big companies with staffs of cartographers that produce all the maps sold there.

Genealogical research calls for finding cemeteries, and this isn't, always easy to do, Reeves said. He and others often-found they could use a good map.

In fact, one West Knoxville man sitting at a computer in his home in Stonecrest subdivision does many of them.

"That wouldn't have been possible a few years ago," said Charles A. Reeves Jr. "Before the advent of desktop computing, it was mostly big companies doing maps."

The big companies are still there, but Reeves, who retired from Oak Ridge three years ago after 30 years as a physicist and computer support staff member at the Y-12 plant, has been able to claim his share of customers.

Reeves' bread-and-butter is doing specialty maps for municipalities, highlighting tourist spots or other points of interest. He puts together a basic map of the area on computer, with the cities, supplying the information they want included. This can involve, identifying and typing in the names for hundreds of streets, roads and other points.

"It can get extremely tedious," Reeves said.

His biggest project to date is a map for the city of Nashville highlighting tourist spots within a 50-mile radius. Usually be gets no credit for his work on a map, but his name appears on that one.

Reeves has been making maps for about 10 years. It started as a hobby that grew out of two other interests--computers and genealogy. Though trained as a physicist, Reeves found be was becoming more fascinated with the computers he used in his work at Y-12 than with the work itself. In the early 1980s, he transferred to the computer support staff.

Also during the 1980s, Reeves and Jane Crowley, his wife at the time, were interested in genealogy. Though divorced now, they are still on good terms, he said. They still collaborate on genealogical projects, such as helping manage TNGenWeb, which is at on the Internet. They keep information updated for genealogical web sites for Clay, Jackson, Putnam and Bedford counties.

The couple has a son, Chip Reeves, who lives in Atlanta.

Genealogical research calls for finding cemeteries, and this isn't always easy to do, Reeves said. He and others often found they could use a good map. He got an the computer to see what he could do.

"I tried doing some cemetery maps and found there was a market for them," he said.

He makes his own maps taking government maps showing cemetery locations and overlaying these on county maps. This works for most cemeteries, but not all.

"There are a lot of little family cemeteries out there that are not documented, and the only way I have to find out about them is if somebody tells me," he said.

Reeves has found that revising maps is a never-ending job. That's just part of the tedious nature of map-making, be said. Most any kind of map will need to be revised as new roads are built, streets are renamed and other changes occur.

"The problem with maps is that as soon as you put one on paper it's out of date," he said.

To offset the tedium of his work, Reeves does projects that may not be as lucrative but are more enjoyable. He has restored old maps for various groups and individuals, piecing torn and damaged maps and scanning them into a computer. He uses specialized software to eliminate stains, improve contrast and make other repairs. And finally he prints the refurbished map.

Reeves has done this for the East Tennessee Historical Society, the Sequoyah Museum in Vonore and others. He has made posters from old postcards of the Knoxville area. One highlights the 1910 Appalachian Exposition held at Chilhowee Park and includes a photo of a dirigible floating over the park grounds.

On at least one occasion, one of his own maps has come to the rescue for Reeves. He had done some materials for the Map Store that included a map showing customers how to reach the store. Reeves' map directed motorists to use the Broadway exit from Interstate 640, but the map store staff told him they didn't recommend people use that route because of road construction.

"So I had to use one of my maps to find the route from Heiskell (Avenue)."

He provided a new map directing drivers to take the Heiskell Avenue exit off Interstate 275, turn right onto Heiskell, go through the railroad underpass and take a left onto Bruhin Road and finally a right onto Dutch Valley, the Map Store will be on the right.

Ed Marcum may be reached at 865-342-6267
or at