I'd like to use the following .shp file to plot area development outlines for KY using leaflet in a shiny app. I use the code below, but I get an error that ".prj file is missing." Also, no outline shows up when I run the second line.

leaflet(add) %>% addTiles()
  • 1
    Can you plot(add) and see anything? That should draw a basic plot on the R graphics window. Shapefiles should have more than just a .shp file, there should be a .shx and a .dbf and a .prj file all together. Have you got any of them?
    – Spacedman
    Commented Sep 1, 2017 at 16:16
  • Yes, plot(add) works, and displays an outline of the zip codes. There is a .shx and .dbf file in the zipped folder but no .prj file.
    – Pareto
    Commented Sep 1, 2017 at 16:18
  • You need that to tell the system if the coordinates in the data are lat-long degrees, or metres in some local flat coordinate system. What does bbox(add) tell you? That should give the coordinates of the bounds of the data, and if it looks like degrees lat-long then I can tell you what to do next. If its big numbers (like metres or feet) then some thought required...
    – Spacedman
    Commented Sep 1, 2017 at 16:21
  • bbox(add) min max x 3798938 6018369 y 3348809 4307228
    – Pareto
    Commented Sep 1, 2017 at 16:27
  • I had the wrong link above. New link will contain problematic files.
    – Pareto
    Commented Sep 1, 2017 at 16:34

1 Answer 1


Here's what I did.

First, try assigning it to projection epsg:3857 - this is what Google Maps uses, and is in metres. So I did:


Now I can transform that to lat-long and see where on the earth it thinks it is:

> bbox(spTransform(add,"+init=epsg:4326"))
       min      max
x 34.12644 54.06393
y 28.78893 36.04800

Okay, that's the wrong place. Kentucky is 89W to 82W, a span of 7 degrees, but this was making it about 20 degrees. A factor of three. Which is about the same factor as metres to feet. So I figured it might be one of those American state coordinate systems that uses feet rather than metres.

A little searching led me to EPSG:3091...


So let's reassign and see where that projects to:

> projection(add)="+init=epsg:3091"

> bbox(spTransform(add,"+init=epsg:4326"))
        min       max
x -89.57120 -81.96479
y  36.49706  39.14773

Winner winner chicken dinner, as we say over here.

I can plot this on the Kentucky state map from the maps package:

> library(maps)
> map("state","kentucky", col="red",lwd=4)
> plot(spTransform(add,"+init=epsg:4326"),add=TRUE)

enter image description here

To use it in leaflet you probably need to transform it, so:

add2 = spTransform(add, "+init=epsg:4326")

gives you add2 in lat-long coordinates.

If you want to create a .prj file so that reading the shapefile results in the correct projection, download it from the ".PRJ file" link on the spatial reference web site: http://spatialreference.org/ref/epsg/3091/prj/

It should look something like this:

PROJCS["NAD83(HARN) / Kentucky Single Zone (ftUS)",GEOGCS["NAD83(HARN)",DATUM["D_North_American_1983_HARN",SPHEROID["GRS_1980",6378137,298.257222101]],P
  • Winner winner chicken dinner indeed! I had to add the prj file that you linked and rename it "kyaddbnds.prj". Then running leaflet(add2) %>% addTiles() %>% addPolygons() gives imgur.com/a/dNlFv. Thanks @Spacedman
    – Pareto
    Commented Sep 1, 2017 at 18:17

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