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19th century travel maps
of the United States

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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.


Pre-1840 maps

Even before the nation was officially founded, the citizens of the United States began their movement west from the original eastern seaboard settlements. With the Erie Canal opening in 1825, and with other canals and then railroads soon to follow, the population of the nascent nation poured into the fertile lands of the mid-west and trans-Appalachian region. The Native Americans who already lived there did not figure prominently in the calculations of these later-arriving Americans, and so new farms, towns, roads, canals, and railroads appeared with increasing frequency in most of the land between the Atlantic and the Mississippi. With the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, European-Americans started to move across the Mississippi on the eastern border of the Great Plains. The maps of this period show this development graphically, with the progress of years presenting a nation rapidly filling in the spaces on the maps.


H.S. Tanner. "The Traveller's Guide or Map of the Roads, Canals & Rail Roads of the United States, With the distances from place to place." Philadelphia: H.S. Tanner, 1839. (1834 copyright on map) 18 1/4 x 21 3/4. Engraving. Original hand color. Excellent condition. Map in The American Traveller; or Guide Through The United States. 4th edition. 16mo. Cloth cover with printed label. 144 pages. One full page and four half page prints and four city maps. 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 designed for the use of travelers, especially the emigrants arriving in increasing numbers at the time. The guide book, which was regularly updated, contains all the information that a traveler might want. To quote from the title, it contains "Brief notices of the several states, cities, principal towns, canals and rail roads &s. with tables of distances, by stage, canal, and steam boat routes. The whole alphabetically arranged with direct references to the accompanying Map of the Roads, Canals, and Railways of the United States." 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. The states are shown with their major towns and rivers. 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 showing greater detail of the environs of major cities such as Philadelphia, New York, and Washington. $1,500



J.H. Young. "Mitchell's New Travellers Guide Through The United States. A Map of the Roads, Distances, Steam Boat & Canal Routes &c." Philadelphia: S.A. Mitchell, 1836. Separately issued, folding map. Copyright, 1834. 17 1/2 x 22 1/4. Engraving by J.H. Young & D. Haines. Bright original outline hand color. Very good condition. Framed.

In 1834, Mitchell had his Travellers Guide map reengraved by J.H. Young and D. Haines. This is an updated version of this second version, issued in 1836. It includes new roads and interesting political developments in the year it was issued. In 1836, the territory of Wisconsin was broken offer from the Michigan Territory (the latter became a state the following year) and Mitchell shows this new division. Also in 1836, Texas declared independence, so in the bottom right of the map, where before "Mexico" had been shown, now "Texas" is shown. $1,500



J.H. Young. "Mitchell's Travellers Guide Through The United States. A Map of the Roads, Distances, Steam Boat & Canal Routes &c." Philadelphia: S.A. Mitchell, 1839. (Copyright 1834) Separately issued map. 17 1/2 x 21 5/8. Steel engraving by J.H. Young and D. Haines. Original outline color. With some stains in title area and some repaired separations at folds. Else, very good condition. With Mitchell's Traveller's Guide Through the United States (Philadelphia, 1839). 78 pp. With some wear at edges, but overall very good condition.

Another example of Mitchell's Traveller's Guide, this complete with map and the 78 page guide. $1,100



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