Nonexistent town in Google maps

Computers & Mobile Energy & Sustainability
Nonexistent town in Google maps
Nonexistent town in google maps.jpg

Interesting article in the Telegraph about “Argleton,” a town that appears in Google maps but does not, apparently, exist in the real world. The best theory I’ve heard is that the town is a “trap” intended to catch those who steal map data. [Thanks, Glen!]

34 thoughts on “Nonexistent town in Google maps

  1. Anonymous says:

    The locals have been looking at it, it’s probably more likely an OCR mis-transcription of the nearly Aughton. what’s amusing everyone is the number of spongers who hooked into it without realising the place doesn’t exist, selling everything from real estate to medical services, the ultimate shysters.

    1. rijrunner says:

      Well, I worked for the US Census a long time ago and ran into something similar to this a number of times. Had place names that did not exist or entire neighborhoods that did not exist.

      If you contact local zoning/planning/county seats for detailed maps of an area, they often include planning maps for sub-divisions that have been platted, but not built yet. In the US, TIGER maps from the US Census Bureau is littered with a lot of that sort of thing. I could see something similar happening in England.

      1. rijrunner says:

        On second thought..

        I bet the Aughton explanation is correct. Maybe OCR.. or maybe an alternate spelling. A lot of towns in England did not standardize their name spelling under the mid 19th century

  2. Dave says:

    It may also be a remnant of a formerly independent town, now either incorporated into a larger town or city, or no longer extant. These traces of old towns, now neighborhoods, seem to remain in the maps.

    For example, search Google Maps for “Burbank, CA” and you will find the city near Los Angeles. Search again for “Burbank near San Jose, CA” and you will find such a remnant. There are a few landmarks nearby that recall the old location, notably the Burbank Theater…

  3. Gilberti says:

    Maybe its leftover test code and data a Google codemonkey accidentally left in place.

  4. jprlk says:

    wiki it. first heard about them in a fred saberhagen berserker story.

  5. Adam says:

    You can create interesting words from the letters in “Argleton” … not real, not legal, …

  6. Scott says:

    The first I ran into this type of issue was listening to the Weather Channel track a Thunderstorm/Tornado near where I grew up. A number of town names were mentioned that I had never heard of before. Looking at Google maps now they aren’t on the map, but you can still search and it will zoom to where they were. Bing maps has the most of these old towns, Yahoo maps shows less of them. Wadsworth, KS is one example

  7. Maria says:

    It’s likely a paper town, see the entry on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paper_townsite

    Mapmakers have been inserting them into their products for years to protect against copyright infringement. Agloe, New York is one of the most common ones: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agloe,_New_York

    Very cool, if indeed google uses them!

  8. Cat says:

    Happens all the time with Google Maps. You zoom in on your own neighborhood, you’ll find all sorts of neigbhorhood names, “squares,” etc. that don’t exist.

  9. RobinB says:

    There’s a few of those orphan towns around here. Not a big deal really. Suprised this has made the National News – must be slow…

  10. Pelrun says:

    Ugh. I don’t like fake entries on maps, and I hope Google isn’t deliberately using them. Google does license map data from commercial providers, however, and it’s possible the paper towns come from there.

    Of course, Satellite and Street View goes a long way to debunk fake road entries :)

  11. John says:

    There is one like that in NM: Agua Fria. There was a ghost town with that name, but it is a mile or so from where Maps puts it. There are only really small ruins now.

  12. Peter Bengtson says:

    possibly a vanished town. try Bradish Nebraska. it still comes up in the Google earth data but has not existed for about 50 years. this used to be the nearest town to the farm my father grew up and where they shopped. It was a regular town with stores a railroad station churches etc. Today it is a corn field as shown on Google earth.

  13. TastyPrawn says:

    About a year ago, on Google Maps, Iola, TX appears as “Lola, TX.” Looking at it on Google Maps now, it is no longer labeled “Lola”– it’s actually not labeled at all!

    This leads me to believe that, like “Lola,” “Argleton” was just a typo.

  14. Mandar Shukla says:

    These kinds of town are indeed traps for data thiefs. I was involved in creating some of them for navigation maps of AND (Automotive navigation data) maps which google uses at certain resolution. If similar towns/roads were detected in maps created by another vendor, its clearly theft. These are just artificial vector diagrams/places and not real towns. So i think that should explain it.

  15. fj says:

    I found a Google maps error when planning to attend a ham radio flea market in Deerfield NH.
    Google maps locates Deerfield NH in the middle of the White Mountain national forest when in reality it is in southern NH, northeast of Manchester. Bing and yahoo maps locate it properly

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I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and makezine.com. My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

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