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19th century travel maps
of the United States
Page 2

[ Pre-1840 | Ante-bellum maps | Post Civil War maps ]
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During the nineteenth century, folding travel maps were published for the use of wagon drivers, railroad passengers, and steamboat voyageurs in a new and rapidly developing country. These separately issued maps were sold to a huge population of Americans on the move. These maps usually focused on the travel nexus of roads, railroads, and steamboat routes, and they often displayed information on schedules, distances, and sometimes included inset maps of cities or smaller regions.

GoGo to home page on travel maps, with more history and other regions.

The following maps show the United States as a whole. These maps show the march of development from the east to the west as the United States expanded in the years just before and after the Civil War. The spread of railroads, the changing shapes of territories, the creep of settlements beyond the Mississippi, and many other features in the western expansion of the United States are graphically displayed in these wonderful historic documents.


Ante-bellum maps

Before 1840, most development in the United States was to just beyond the Mississippi River, with Missouri being the western-most civilized state. Beginning in 1841 a trickle of emigrants started west on the California and Oregon trails, and in 1843 the "Great Migration" of about 1,000 settlers set out for the west. The Oregon Territory was ceded to the United States by Britain in 1846, and California and the present-day southwestern U.S. were acquired from Mexico in 1848. When gold was found in California that year, the movement west became a flood, with about 25,000 emigrants west in 1849 and 44,000 the following year. 1851 saw a ebb in this flow, because of the cholera epidemic of the preceding year, but in 1852 the flood was back to about 50,000 individuals heading west.


Phelps and Ensigns US
"Phelps & Ensign's Traveler's Guide and Map of the United States Containing The Roads, Distances, Steam Boat and Canal Routes &c." New York: T. & E.H. Ensign, 1843. Separately issued folding map on banknote paper. With original booklet. Copyright by Phelps & Squire, 1837. 17 x 23. Engraved on steel by J. Wells. Strong, original hand color.

A wonderful map of the United States, issued folded into Phelps & Ensign's Travellers Guide Through the United States. In 1838, Phelps & Ensign began to issue a series of "Traveller's Guides" which appeared both as folding maps and as wall maps. Within the decorative map border, a detailed depiction shows the United States to the first tier of states west of the Mississippi River. This is accompanied by numerous small inset maps of the vicinities of important cities and small regions of the country, along with a small inset of the southern tip of Florida. The map proper gives good information on the cities and towns of the U.S., as well as roads between them, with distances indicated. The map has a particular focus on the transportation nexus in the United States. As it states in the title, the map "containing the roads, distances, steam boat and canal routes &c." Along each road are indicated the distances between the cities, which would be useful information for the travelers for whom this map was intended. $1,250



Henry S. Tanner. "The Travellers Guide or Map of the Roads, Canals and Rail Roads of the United States. With the distances from place to place" New York, 1846. Folded into Tanner's American Traveller or Guide Through the United States With Maps Plans &c. (Philadelphia, 1844) Buckram covers. 144pp. and four small city maps. Large map of US: 18 1/2 x 22 1/4. Engraving. Full original hand color. With minor separations at folds. Otherwise, very good condition.

An fine example of Tanner's American Traveller guide book, containing four single fold city maps and a superior, large folding map of the United States. Tanner, a Philadelphia engraver and map publisher, was one of the leading figures in American cartography during the second decade of the nineteenth century. Tanner's guide book and its folding map were issued near the beginning of the "Great Migration" and when the influx of immigrants was in full flow. The guide book contains information on various travel routes throughout the country, regularly updated (this edition adds four pages of new routes). Included in the text are four, single fold city plans of Baltimore, Boston, New York and Philadelphia. Folded into the back is a larger map of the United States. The map extends from the east coast to Missouri, Arkansas and Louisiana. Roads, rail routes, canals and steamboat routes are featured, with the distances between points noted--a most important feature for the traveler. Also of great use for the traveler is the series of inset maps in the lower right, showing the environs of major cities, such as Philadelphia, New York, Washington, with greater detail. $1,350



Colton United States
"The United States of America. 1853." New York: J.H. Colton, 1853. Separately issued folding map, with original covers. 16 1/2 x 27. Lithograph. Printed by D. McLellan. Original hand color. With a few repairs at folds, else excellent condition. Denver.

The first issue of Colton's map of the United States which was later used in his American Atlas. The map shows the country the year before the Kansas-Nebraska act, at least as best Colton could discern. The far west consists of the four large territories of Washington, Oregon, Utah, New Mexico and California. East of these lies Texas, correctly shown with its post-1850 borders, before the Gadsden Purchase which was signed the year after this map was issued. Above Texas are three large territories, none of which actually ever were established as shown. Beginning in the late 1840s, many felt the need for an organized territory, to be called Nebraska, crossing what was then Indian Territory from the Missouri to the continental divide. This would allow for the building of a transcontinental railroad. Various proposals were put forth, but none were enacted until 1854. Colton, probably depending on a report from his informants in Congress, drew in a Nebraska Territory with borders it never was to have, cutting down the Indian Territory to surround it to the east, and placing a non-existent "North West Territory" above. More correctly, Colton does show the large Minnesota Territory above Iowa, extending from the Mississippi to the Missouri River. Also clearly presented are details of the Rocky and Sierra Nevada Mountains, as then known, rivers, and settlements throughout the west, as well as Fremont's routes and the Oregon Trail. The whole is brightly colored and a decorative border surrounds the image. One of the rarer and most desirable of Colton folding maps. $1,400



1856 US
Wellington Williams. "A New Map of the United States upon which are delineated its vast works of Internal communications, Routes across the Continent &c." Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo & Co., 1856. (Copyright 1855.) 24 1/2 x 29 3/8. Lithograph. Original outline hand color. Some typical small breaks at folds and in corners, and light stains. Expertly conserved and lined. Overall, very good condition and appearance. Denver.

Williams issued his series of maps about every year from 1851. These maps are some of the first to expand the primary region depicted further west than Missouri. This edition shows the results of the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, as well as of the Gadsden Purchase of the same year. A bright and highly detailed separately issued map that shows the United States from the Atlantic Ocean to the middle of Texas and the Nebraska Territory, with an inset of the western parts of the United States entitled "Map of California, Oregon, New Mexico, Utah &c." This map was originally issued in a booklet entitled The Traveler's and Tourist's Guide through the United States, Canada, etc., Exhibiting the Various Routes of Travel... accompanied by a valuable and authentic Map of the United States. Like other maps of its type, it shows road, canals and especially railroad lines throughout the country. One of its most interesting features, for a map from the middle of the century, is the excellent inset of the western parts. Though on a reduced scale, this map is praised by Carl Wheat for its "much up-to-date information" from Fremont, Marcy, Wilkes, Emory, Abert, Johnston, Simpson, Whiting, and others. It shows a fascinating depiction of the territories west of the Mississippi with lots of impressive detail. The map contains three other insets, one of Cuba, one of the city and harbor of Havana, and the last showing the Niagara Peninsula. Overall, a most decorative item of considerable historic note and interest. $1,350



Mitchell U.S. 1860
J.L. Hazzard & I.S. Drake. "Mitchell's New Traveller's Guide Through The United States, Showing the Rail Roads, Canals, Stage Roads &c. With Distances From Place To Place." Philadelphia: Charles Desilver, 1860. Separately issued, folding map. 21 3/4 x 28 1/2. Lithograph by J.L. Hazzard & I.S. Drake. Bright hand color. With a few stains in the Carolinas and New Hampshire. Overall, very good condition.

A separately issued map of the United States issued by Philadelphia publisher Charles Desilver based on S. Augustus Mitchell's earlier maps. This bright and highly detail map shows the U.S. extending from the Atlantic to the first tier of states past the Mississippi River. Like other maps of its type, it focuses on roads and canals which are shown crisscrossing the country. This information would, of course, have been crucial for the intended market of this map, the many "Travellers" on the move around the country at the time. It is interesting that this map shows the United States on the eve of the Civil War. Also of particular interest is the inset which shows the "Marine and Overland Routes to California," which includes its own inset of the "Gold and Quicksilver District." This reflects the continued interest in the just over a decade old gold strike in California, a concern which would soon be overshadowed by the clouds of war. Included are three other insets: "Map of the Copper Mine Region" [in upper Michigan/Wisconsin], "Map of New England or Eastern States," and "Map of the Maritime And Overland Routes to California." $1,200



Post Civil War maps

The end of the Civil War was beginning of a renewed emigration west, this time not just to the west coast, but into the lands between the Mississippi and the Rockies. The first transcontinental railroad was opened in 1869, tying the country together from coast to coast and allowing for the rapid development of the lands of the Great Plains and the American southwest. Railroads continued to expand through the rest of the century, as the national landscape continued to fill in.


Colton: US and Canada 1863-4
G. Woolworth Colton. "G. Woolworth Colton's Guide Map of the United States & Canada, with Railroads, Counties, etc." New York: G.W. Colton, 1863-64. 29 1/2 x 36 1/4. Lithograph. Original hand color. With insets: "The Southern Portion of Texas," "Plan of the Southern Portion of Florida" and "Western Portion of the United States." Folding map on banknote paper with original buckram case. With expert repairs at some folds. Overall, fine condition.

A graphic picture of the United States during the Civil War, this is a large folding map "Drawn, Engraved & Published by G. Woolworth Colton" in 1863-64. The main map shows as far west as the western parts of Texas, the Indian Territory, Kansas, Nebraska, and the Dakotas. An inset in the lower right corner shows the rest of the United States, with another inset just above showing detail of the southern part of Florida and an inset to the left showing the southern part of Texas. The map shows much topography, including excellent detail of rivers, and the political situation of the time, including state and territory borders, counties, cities, and many towns. One of the primary purposes of the map, however, was to show the transportation nexus in the country and this is indicated with excellent detail. Roads are shown and particular attention is paid to railroads, especially the burgeoning network of lines in the Midwest. This is as fine a picture of the United States during this traumatic yet dynamic period as one can find, and this is a particularly nice example of the map. $1,800



"The United States of America, Including all its Newly Acquired Territory." Boston: National Publishing Company, 1902. 26 7/8 x 55 3/4. Color cerograph. Folding map in original buckram covers. Some wear along fold lines. Tear in right margin. Puncture at top edge. A few light spots on right margin and scattered in image; else, good condition.

A large, detailed map offering an informative snapshot of American expansion at the turn of the twentieth century. Through county-by-county delineations, population density is easy to trace: the tightly-packed county lines of eastern states spread out in the western Dakotas and remain sparse through little-settled states and territories of the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains. Population tables (based on census data from 1900) confirm demographic information, including the populations of principal cities across the country. Along the bottom edge of the map, outlying territories, possessions, and protectorates are illustrated, including insets of the Philippine Islands, Alaska, Hawaii, Tutuila Island, Samoa, Guam, Wake Island, Howland Island and Baker Island, Cuba, and Puerto Rico. Printed on the heels of the Spanish-American War, this map illustrates the properties won in the treaty. By the second copyright date in 1902, American troops had quelled the post-war guerilla insurrection in the Philippines, and diplomats would soon secure exclusive influence in Cuba with the Platt Amendment (1903). With bold colors and detailed information, this map gives a fascinating picture of a young nation testing the limits of own territory and influence. $225



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