I work in Milford, IN. I grew up not far from here and spent time with my father and brother fishing in Waubee Lake. My in-laws live an Waubee Lake and my son and daughter have grown up around it. Why does this matter? Well, until today, if you had gone to Google Maps and looked up “Waubee Lake” you would have found other lakes named “Waubee” but not this one in north central Indiana. Until today, you would have had to look up “Wabee Lake” to find this one.
I take a lot of pictures and when I upload them to my Flickr account, I like to geo-tag them. Well, the mis-spelling has bothered me for quite some time. So, I decided to do something about it. I started with Google Maps although Flickr uses Yahoo maps. I submitted a change request to Google via their map building software. The request was simple and to the point asking them to change the name of this poor miss-spelled lake.
The next day there was a message in my inbox from Map Maker. It simply read, “Hi, thanks for the edit. I see that the previous name is more appropriate. Please UNDO the edit. You can find “Undo” option on the Left pane, under the “My Edits” tab. Feel free to refer our help center link for further reference.”
More appropriate? Was this a ploy to weed out the frivolous? I pressed further. I responded to Google:
“Thank you for your consideration on this matter. I have lived here for 40+ years and I can tell you with 100% certainty that this is an incorrect spelling of Waubee Lake. It is sometimes called Milford Lake and even that would be more correct. I have also submitted changes to the GNIS which, I believe, is where you must have referenced from? The information there is also incorrect. I am sure that it will take some time to have that data corrected. I will include some links to official sites that are a little more local in scope. Namely the Indiana governmental site and the Indiana Dept. of Natural Resources.
Here is a listing of the lakes in Indiana with bathymetric data. Please note the spelling of Waubee. http://www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/5759.htm
Here is a direct link to the bathymetric data for Waubee Lake: http://www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/files/fw-Waubee_Lake_Bathymetry_Kosciusko_County_August_c_2011.pdf
If you go to the DNR map to coordinates: 41.393689 -85.838808 and click on the lake you will see it spelled correctly. The DNR site does not get its data from Google or GIS systems. http://www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/3591.htm
Here is a link to Camp Alexander Mack. It is a Christian Camp on Waubee Lake that has been there since 1925. If you notice they reference Waubee Lake not Wabee Lake. http://www.campmack.org
Here is a map from our local county GIS. http://beacon.schneidercorp.com/Application.aspx?AppID=152&LayerID=1998&PageTypeID=1&PageID=1047&KeyValue=027-091-003
Thank you again for your time and consideration on this matter. I hope that Google is as interest in correct information as it is information in general.”
I sent this off and then went to work on the GNIS, which is an acronym for Geographical Names Informational System, a sub-department of the USGS; United States Geological Survey.