For students of Sobel's alternate history, however, Southern Vandalia is as much a cartographical puzzle as a sociological one. On page 140, Sobel has this to say on the separation of Vandalia into northern and southern sections:
This fast growth created problems of administration, and in addition, there were conflicts between miners and farmers, immigrants and native-born Americans, settlers from Indiana and the N.C. on the one side and the S.C. on the other. Because of this, all members of the Grand Council but four recommended the division of the confederation. Governor Hiram Potter also supported division, which was accomplished in 1877. Northern Vandalia (the area north of the 40th parallel) contained the mines, many foreign-born and Indiana-N.C. settlers, and wheatlands, while Southern Vandalia had almost all the S.C. immigrants, the richest farmlands in the region, and the largest proportion of Negro North Americans in the C.N.A.So, based on Sobel's reference to the 40th parallel, a typical map of Southern Vandalia looks like this:
But if you look at the frontispiece map in Nail, you'll find that it shows Southern Vandalia looking like this:
So, how do you reconcile the contradiction between the text and the only actual map of the C.N.A. that we have access to?
The standard solution is to ignore the map and stick to the 40th parallel as the boundary between Northern and Southern Vandalia. But I admit that I'm becoming less satisfied with that answer than I used to be. Those of us who have spent far too much time studying the Sobel Timeline have explained away much knottier contradictions than this.
In this case, I think the thing to bear in mind is that not all geographical expressions are meant to be taken literally. In our own history, for example, "the Mason-Dixon line" is used as shorthand for "the boundary between free states and slave states/former slave states" even though the actual Mason-Dixon line was simply the border between Maryland and Pennsylvania. In the same way, it's possible that in the Sobel Timeline, "the 40th parallel" was used as shorthand for the boundary between majority-white and majority-black areas of Vandalia. When it came time to draw the actual boundary, though, the Grand Council did some gerrymandering to ensure that as many of Vandalia's black residents were south of the line, and as many whites were north of it, as possible.
Of course, if we accept this interpretation of "the 40th parallel", it will mean redrawing most of the maps on the Sobel Wiki. But since they'll conform more closely with the source material, it would be a change worth making.
I solicit the opinions of other Sobel scholars on the question.