Inside The Surprisingly High-Tech World Of Corn Mazes
SOURCE: Fast Company
BY: Steven Melendez
The rustic labyrinths are an increasingly sophisticated fall tradition, as maze consultancies cut digital designs into cornfields with GPS-guided tractors.
About 20 years ago, Hugh McPherson added a corn maze to his family’s Pennsylvania farm, looking to attract more customers to experience the property’s pick-your-own apple and peach orchards.
In the beginning, setting up the maze every year wasn’t easy—it typically took about two weeks of work, McPherson says. First, they’d draw the maze out on graph paper, marking out pathways, walls, and dead ends. Then, they’d plant flags across eight or nine acres of field to mark off a grid matching what was on the paper. Finally, they’d carefully cut down the right sections of stalks to form three-dimensional paths and barriers for visitors to explore.
“When we started back in 1997, it was as old-school and primitive as the ancient peoples making big pictures on the ground,” he recalls. “Basically, we were laying everything out by hand and making the giant picture look like the small picture.”