Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail Logo

After several years of coordination…Dan Foster, Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail (IAF-NGT) Superintendent, announced we have a finalized version logo for the IAF-NGT that has been accepted and that will be displayed prominently throughout the floods area. WA-DNR’s graphic designer came up with the design that the Logo Committee believes best captures the essence of the meaning behind this national trail.  During this process they faced a difficult task to capture something that was abstract, expressed itself visually in many different ways to represent the flood area, and reflected a story that is generally not well known to the public…now comes the work to sign the 4-state trail.

Dan plans on sending out guidance to all the Trail partners on the proper use of the logo. Work is currently underway to develop a “Signing the Trail Plan”. This plan will give us a fairly accurate number for how many logo signs will be needed throughout the floods area. Until now we have only had a very rough guess. Having a more accurate figure for the number of logo signs that will be needed will give us a more accurate cost for making the signs and posts. It will also help the State DOT’s determine what it will cost them to install the logo signs and posts. Dan Foster has started people working on this and hopes to have the plan done this spring. They still have lots of unanswered questions about this process (i.e. how to pay for manufacturing and installing the logo posts) but to finally have a logo was the necessary first step. 

We started with several conceptual drawings from members of the logo committee and colleagues, but ended up using the services of a number of talented designers whose time was donated by their agency.  During this process, a vast number of logos were drafted, but not chosen.  Through this we learned the logic, recognition and cognitive association of a logo with its object.  We appreciate all who worked on this and couldn’t have done it without them. 

Because of the difficulty in portraying the scientific nature of the trail, we spent considerable time focusing on designing a literal geologic translation of Ice Age Floods.  However, what seemed to work in one place didn’t in another.  What worked for instantaneous public recognition didn’t reflect the geologic accuracy this approach demanded.  It took time for us to shift our point of view, but we were convinced when graphics designer Dan Coe with Washington Department of Natural Resources tried something different and it resonated with us.  The adopted design is a contemporary scene that reflects the primary public purpose of the Trail as stated in its establishing legislation, to enable “the public to view, experience, and learn about the features and story of the Ice Age floods…”

I think this approach communicates that there is something incredible to see and experience as one travels along the route, something that is consistent with the overall interpretive goal and approach of the Trail. While there may not be 100% concurrence for the logo from everyone, we think the logo to be distinctive enough that the public will be able to easily distinguish it from the many other trail logos in our Region.  More importantly, we believe the logo captures the essence of the landscape that J. Harlan Bretz saw and used as the basis for first recognizing the former Ice Age Floods.

The effort on the logo is symbolic of the entire trail partnership.  We have an immense story with lots of players and opinions to disseminate it.  Tasks ahead of us will also take time to reach consensus, but that consensus will be the strength of the trail moving forward over the coming years, even as we all come and go in our various roles.

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