The Middle of Nowhere

Argleton, Lancashire, United Kingdom.  Where is it?  That map above is a screen shot, via Wikipedia, of an old Google Maps result.  It’s not all that different from the current result, except that the word “Argleton” is oddly gone.  Where’d it go?

Exactly where it should be:  Nowhere.   That’s because Argleton, even though Google Maps recognizes its location, doesn’t really exist.

It’s unclear, at best, as to why the fictitious village of Argleton made it into a release of Google Maps.  When asked, Google offered no explanation other than a defense of the product as mostly correct — and a bit of blame shifting: Google suggested that would-be editors advise Tele Atlas, the TomTom-owned company which provides map data to Google, about the problem. Some suggest that the error was deliberate; that Argleton was used as a way to identify unlawful copies of the data set.  While unlikely, this would be entirely consistent with recent mapmaking history: the use of “trap streets” to reach this goal has been in practice for at least two decades.

What’s really at the location incorrectly labeled as Argleton?   Not much.  As this picture shows, Argleton, had it been a real place, would have a population of no people, no animals, and no buildings — but would probably be a great place for a picnic.


Bonus fact: “Providence Plantations,” on the other hand, definitely does exist, even though Google Maps can’t seem to find it.  It’s not Google’s fault.  The official name of Rhode Island is actually “The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations,” and this past Tuesday, voters were given the option of shortening the name to, simply, “Rhode Island.”  The amendment failed.

From the Archives: The Boat in the Middle of Nowhere.  No, the boat isn’t in Argleton.  It’s somewhere real, but far away from everything else.

Related: Um… this can’t be real.

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