George Kent knows the state of Delaware like the back of his own hand, which isn’t surprising, considering he spent the past 45 years creating maps of the First State for the Delaware Department of Transportation.

George Kent knows the state of Delaware like the back of his own hand, which isn’t surprising, considering he spent the past 45 years creating maps of the First State for the Delaware Department of Transportation.

Kent laid down his tools on Friday and retired from his position as principal cartographer, but only after he had made a drive to Dewey Beach to drop off a box of transportation and tourism maps at the Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce, a task he undertook to save the state $9.

When Kent first began his work on transportation and tourism maps in 1968, he worked with pens and ink. His department now creates its maps in an entirely digital format.

Kent began working at DelDOT in 1965 as a summer intern. He came on full time staff member in 1968 after a stint in the Army.

“My friends kept telling me, ‘They can’t draft you out of school,’” Kent said. “In September 1966 I was drafted out of school. After two years in the U.S. Army I returned home to relax for 44 days. On the 45th day my dad asked me if I ever thought about getting a job.”

Kent headed over to DelDOT, then called the Highway Department, was offered a job in the mapping section of the planning department and has been with the state agency ever since.

“I started out just doing basic graphics work and real simplified maps with pen and ink for reports,” he said. “I did a lot of graphs. In 1969 the person who was making maps went into the service so I asked my boss, Ed Daino, to show me how scribe maps. I scribed for about 20 years or so.”

In the days when Kent was scribing maps it took roughly six months to complete just one. The mapping department had to contact each town by mail and verify their boundaries. The department then had to verify or revise the locations and details of every road in the state.

“Now when we receive information I verify it and our mappers put it directly in the computer,” he said. “The only thing that’s not on our maps today is what’s sitting on my table to be verified.”

The mapping department got its first computer in 1988. It produced its first highway map using computers and in 1996 it produced its first transportation map with the new technology. Now all of the departments work is done digitally.

Kent has worked on every type of map from transportation maps, bicycle maps, aeronautical charts, hundreds maps and troop maps, as well as maps used as evidence in public hearings.

Most Delawareans and out-of-towners most likely have a piece of Kent’s handy work in their car’s glove compartment. Kent and his department are responsible for creating the Tourism and Transpiration map of the state, which is handed out for free by various chambers of comerce or at conventions in Delaware. The maps feature both a detailed layout of the state and its roads and information about attractions, lodging and dining. The maps are designed to entice people to explore the state. Being a map maker, Kent is not a fan of GPS.

“With the GPS in your car, all you see is what’s two blocks in front of you,” he said. “You don’t see the monuments or national treasures on each side of the highway.

When Kent took the job he didn’t know much about the layout of Delaware. He knew his way around his hometown of Dover and was familiar with the surrounding towns and the beaches, but that was about it. At this stage in the game, Kent can pinpoint even the smallest towns. When asked where the town of Bullseye is, without hesitation he identified it on a map, on the left bank of Indian River.

Kent’s attention to detail and passion for maps is something he is known for among his colleagues.

“He’s an extraordinary cartographer,” said Peggy Bacon, assistant chief of survey at DelDOT. “He makes great maps. He has such a personal interest with everything he does.”

Jim Westhoff, a community relations officer for DelDOT, said Kent’s retirement is noteworthy in that he has gotten people where they need to go for decades.

“Most people in Delaware don’t even realize that DelDOT has a cartographer, let alone know his name,” Westhoff said. “George’s expertise and the pride he takes in his work has impacted every person in Delaware and countless millions who have driven through the state.”