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Eartha up close.

Eartha: World's Largest Rotating Globe (In Transition)

Field review by the editors.

Yarmouth, Maine

It's a great time for maps, if measured by the explosion of online cartography, the satellite and street views, the topographic cutaways, the mashups. Millions of users zoom over secret government bases, hover as real estate demigods above devalued subdivisions, scan star systems for life and rooftops for naked sunbathers. And it doesn't cost a cent.

Under the Earth.

Which means it's also a terrible time for maps -- especially the old-timey paper kind that unfold and cost something (Although filling stations used to give 'em away for free when gas was 35 cents a gallon; go figure).

Even though the map industry has changed dramatically, we're glad to see the World's Largest Rotating Globe still spinning. DeLorme -- which evolved into a software company -- put itself on the destination grid in 1998 with Eartha, a 41-foot-diameter globe in the glass-fronted lobby of its Maine-based family-owned mapping company.

Then-CEO David DeLorme wanted something big to flag his company in the physical world -- so he designed the World's Largest Revolving and Rotating Globe. Eartha took two years to build. She would have been built faster, but halfway through her assembly DeLorme noticed a slight flaw. Eartha was torn down and reconstructed properly. The governor of Maine attached the last of her map panels, which included Maine, on July 23, 1998.

A year later, officials from Guinness World Records ran a tape measure over DeLorme's creation. Eartha, they learned, was just under 131 feet around, and 41 feet, one-and-a-half inches across her middle (DeLorme had guessed 42 feet).

Exterior of former Delorme HQ.

Eartha eclipsed a 33-foot-wide rotating globe in Italy, as well as the original "World's Largest Rotating World," a 28-foot-diameter steel ball in Wellesley, Massachusetts. And although the weird glass Mapparium globe in Boston is still trip-worthy, its 30-foot diameter wouldn't win this battle even if it could be turned back outside in.

Eartha mimics the Earth's movements inside a weatherproof three-story glass atrium, mounted on a custom-designed, mechanized cantilever arm. Visitors can marvel at Eartha from three different observation levels, roughly at the South Pole, the Equator, and Greenland. Viewing Eartha from these up-close vantage points can leave you feeling like an ant, an astronaut, or a god, depending on your elevation.

Eartha is tilted on a 23.5 degree axis, mimicking the real Earth's angle. The surface is composed of 792 panels printed from a computerized database and incorporating shaded relief and depth info, roadways and cities. According to DeLorme, it was the largest Earth image ever created.

Eartha takes 18 leisurely minutes to make a complete cycle, a speed that ensures that even the smallest visitor won't get sucked into her orbit. But Eartha can also reportedly be accelerated to a speed that zips though an entire Earth year in 60 seconds.

Such whirling dervish velocity may have prematurely aged Eartha, whose motors began to break down in 2006. This was seriously bad news for the World's Largest Revolving and Rotating Globe. Eartha was shut down, and her custom-made propulsion system was rebuilt. By late 2007 she was back in motion -- a good thing, although it makes one appreciate the comparative durability of gravity and curved space.

Delorme was acquired by Garmin, another mapping company, in 2016. Wisely, Eartha's new overlords have kept the giant globe.

Eartha: World's Largest Rotating Globe


2 DeLorme Drive, Yarmouth, ME
Garmin. I-295 exit 17. Drive northeast on US Hwy 1, then immediately turn right.
Disassembled and under repair July 2023. (Call to verify)
Lit at night.
In Transition
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

The Big F IndianThe Big F Indian, Freeport, ME - 1 mi.
Desert of MaineDesert of Maine, Freeport, ME - 4 mi.
Giant L.L. Bean BootGiant L.L. Bean Boot, Freeport, ME - 5 mi.
In the region:
World Traveler Signpost, Lynchville, ME - 43 mi.

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