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The secret treasure of Jedediah Hotchkiss

It takes a while for Traipse staff to walk anywhere. We like to stop and investigate odd architecture, read historical plaques, or peruse the shelves of the small businesses we encounter. Curiosity is in our nature and it's handy for the business we're in.

As we spent more and more time in our home base of Staunton, Virginia, a name kept popping up as we poked around: Jedediah Hotchkiss. If you're a scholar of the American Civil War he's likely a figure familiar to you. Hotchkiss was a mapmaker of considerable skill for the Confederates. His maps can be directly credited for several Confederate victories where they used his detailed rendering of terrain to outmaneuver Union forces. The maps were of such high-caliber that they were used long after the war ended. After the war, Hotchkiss retired to Staunton where he lived out his days.

Library of Congress

Digging into Hotchkiss' history and the large cache of his works which now live at the Library of Congress, we were mystified by the contradictions we found. Here was a man who adored the natural world, having published multiple guidebooks on Virginian flora and fauna. He loved children and learning, and founded multiple schools in the region. And yet he, like many in the area, fought to preserve the practice of human slavery and was directly the cause of untold death and suffering.

We created a Traipse tour of sites throughout Staunton related to his life. Wary of lionizing the man, we've written a fictional adventure tale of a Library of Congress intern who found a code leading to secret treasure hidden in Hotchkiss' files. It's a fun romp unto its own and while exploring Staunton, you'll also learn more about the man who had a significant impact on its history and in fact, the history of the country.

Download the free Traipse app and go take your brain for a walk!

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