Man Builds A Map of the Entire World In Backyard


Averi Carlson, Contributor

In the town of Klejtrup, a small village six miles from the town of Hobro in Denmark, lies a large map of the world. The construction of this masterpiece started in the year of 1943 by a man named Soren Poulsen. He finished his project in 1969 after 26 years of hard work. 

Poulsen was originally born in Denmark in the year 1888, but moved to the United States for twenty years. He then returned to Denmark and lived on the family farm. For work he created an orchard grove, but that business failed. This led him to create one of the most popular tourism sites in Denmark. 

Poulsen got the idea to build this map while he was draining his fields into the Klejtrup Sø, the local lake. As he was walking, he saw a rock that looked like Jutland, the mainland of Denmark. After the development of Mercator Projection, he wanted to create a map of the world to scale. The Mercator Projection was designed to figure out how to create a 3D figure on a two-dimensional surface. This projection was created by using cylindrical projection, “which keeps parallels and meridians straight and perpendicular to each other.” While this solution was beneficial to sea captains and sailors, it made the maps disoriented. 

Poulsen wanted to create an image that was exactly the scale of the world. Mercator’s Greenland was made the same size as Africa, even though their sizes are actually different. Frank Jacobs states, “Poulsen wanted to avoid those distortions, and he did this by leaving out the South Pole and by representing some areas of the Northern Hemisphere twice.”

The map measures 49 by 98 yards, and 69 miles corresponds to 11 in on the map. The whole map covers about 54,000 sq. ft. Poulsen named the map Verdenskortet which means “The World Map.” 

There was not much entertainment at the time, so every chance he got, he would work on the map. He started by laying rocks in the ice created by his frozen fields. When the ice thawed later the next spring, the rocks sunk to the shallow bottom, outlining the seven continents. 

According to Jacobs, Poulsen built Verdenskortet “with the use of a few simple tools (a wheelbarrow, a pushcart, hand tools) and a whole lot of ingenuity – some of the stones he single-handedly hauled to the site weigh more than a ton.” In order to distinguish between different countries, Poulsen placed maps marking the different areas and a red line marks the equator and the two poles. He even dug small trenches in the grass to represent lakes and rivers. 

There were some odd things Poulsen added to his map. He outlined the United States in yellow bricks instead of the traditional rocks. Speculators believe this is because he emigrated there for twenty years. They think this emigration is what developed his love for geography and later turned into the creation of this map. However, no one really knows for sure why he changed the outline of the United States. 

The map is still the same as it was when Poulsen finished in 1969. Even though fifty years is a long time and the rocks should have moved, the shape of the continents is still the same. However, the flags have been changed over a couple years to keep the map looking nice. 

Poulsen died at the age of 81 just months after creating this 3D map. Now there are bridges and walkways so that people can travel to all the different continents. Several years after being built a coffee and ice cream shop was built with a park and several benches. Now families of all ages can come and enjoy the sun while walking around the world.