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Maps of Western America
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A sequence of maps of the American southwest

A series of maps of the southern part of the American west, from the eastern Rocky Mountains to the Pacific, issued by some of the major American publishers out of New York. The sequence began with Johnson & Browning's 1860 "Johnson's California Territories of New Mexico and Utah," and continued into the 1880s. In 1860, the region was just opening up (partly as a result of the two great gold rushes of California (1849) and Colorado (1859) and the silver rush in Nevada, (1859) but also the building of the trans-continental railroad, linking the two coasts of the country. This series of maps graphically shows this development, from a sparsely developed country crossed by pony express, explorer and emigrant trail to a rapidly filled in land of mining towns, criss-crossed by railroads. Each new edition shows changes in borders, counties, towns, roads, railroads, Indian tribe locations, and much else.

Special offer: Purchase any three maps from the sequence of maps below and receive a 20% discount


A sequence of maps of the American northwest

Between 1859 and the early 1870s, the American northwest went through a number of significant changes, especially in the early 1860s. Washington Territory had been created from the very large Oregon Territory in 1853, and it grew in size when the state of Oregon was created in 1859. It took on a tipped-over "L" shape which lasted until 1863, when the eastern part of the territory was subsumed into a very large Idaho Territory. This was the result of gold being discovered in the new territory, resulting in a flood of prospectors who wanted their own local government. The same thing happened in the eastern part of the very large Idaho, with gold discovered east of the Bitterroot Mountains, so another new territory, Montana, was created the following year, 1864. In the following years these two new territories grew and developed and they were joined by another territory, Wyoming, in 1868. This series of maps by S. Augustus Mitchell, Jr., nicely show the political and social changes in the region.

Special offer: Purchase any three maps from the sequence of maps below and receive a 10% discount


Northern plains
A.J. Johnson. "Johnson's Nebraska, Dakota, Montana & Kansas." New York: Johnson & Ward, ca. 1864. 12 1/2 x 15 1/2. Lithograph. Original hand coloring. Some discoloration and light spotting. Else, very good condition. Denver.

Johnson's map of the configuration modified from the situation shown in the map above, depicting the area about 1864. By 1861 Kansas and Nebraska had been reorganized into their present configurations, the Dakota Territory, to the north, had the Idaho Territory broken off in 1863, comprising present-day Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. In 1864, the Montana Territory was broken off, and this map is the first version of the Johnson map to show it thusly. The detail in this map is most impressive, showing rivers, towns, forts, Indian tribes, and the early trails which criss-crossed this region. This map, issued the end of the Civil War, shows these territories just before they were filled with new settlers, miners and other speculators. $175

A sequence of maps of the American northern plains

Another series of maps of the changing American west, this showing the northern plains from Dakota and Nebraska to Idaho. Idaho Territory was created in 1863, extending from its current western border all the way across to an eastern border with today's Dakotas and Nebraska. It was soon realized that this was an impractical territory because of the difficulty of traveling across the Rockies in winter, so a year later Montana was created out of the northeastern part of Idaho. The southeastern part was temporarily attached to the Dakota Territory, until 1868 when this was made into the Wyoming Territory.

Special offer: Purchase any two maps from the sequence of maps below and receive a 10% discount


More maps of the Trans-Mississippi West by A.J. Johnson. New York: Johnson & Ward, 1864. Lithographs. Original hand coloring. Somewhat brittle. Very good condition.

Macomb four corners
F.W. von Egloffstein after surveys by John N. Macomb. "Map of Explorations and Surveys in New Mexico and Capt. J.N. Macomb Topl. Engrs....1806." New York: Geographical Institute, 1864. 30 3/4 x 37 1/4. Tinted aquatint engraving. Some separation and very light discoloration at folds. Overall, very good condition. Wheat: 983. Denver.

A nice example of what Carl Wheat called "one of the most beautiful maps ever published by the Army," a map that "is a landmark map for various regions." It shows the region around the "four corners" in the American Southwest, based on surveys from an 1860 expedition led by Captain John N. Macomb to explore the Old Spanish Trail from New Mexico towards Utah. The expedition is important in its confirmation that the Green and "Grand" (now Colorado) Rivers joined to form the Colorado just above the Grand Canyon. The map was printed in 1864, but didn't actually get published until 1875 because of the Civil War.

Wheat's comments on its importance is not only based on its geographical significance, but also because of its documentation of the routes of various explorer's routes, including Macomb's as well as those of Gunnison, Marcy, and Father Escalante and others. The last factor in Wheat's judgments is it striking appearance, where it looks almost three dimensional. This is the result of a technique of depicting topography developed by F.W. Egloffstein, where his intent was to "give his map the appearance of a small plaster model of the country." This was achieved by applying very fine lines on the plate by use of a ruling machine (done by Samuel Sartain), which were then exposed to acid to varying degrees to achieve the desired appearance. Only a few maps where made using this difficult process and this is the finest example thereof. The map is a wonderful depiction of the main drainage areas of the American Southwest, as well as many other features such as pueblos, archaeological sites and settlements, all conveyed with a remarkable appearance that few other maps have every matched. $1,800

Johnston Western States
Keith Johnston. "United States of North America (Western States)." Ediburgh & London: William Blackwood & Sons, ca. 1866. 17 1/4 x 22 1/2. Lithograph. Original outline color. Very good condition. Denver.

A fine example of both the good and bad aspects of British cartography showing America in the mid-nineteenth century. This is a handsome two color lithographic map in blue and black inks, was then finished by hand with outline color along political boundaries. The fine quality of the lithography conveys the minute details of lakes, rivers, mountains, valleys and other orographic as well as political details of the American West. Keith Johnston was one of the leading cartographers of the day and his careful mapping is evident here. However, of particular interest are the unusual, an incorrect borders of the various western states and territories. The map was issued about 1866, but it shows the political situation (with errors) of about 1863.

In that year, Idaho was created from the eastern part of Washington Territory and the western part of Dakota, while Arizona was carved out of the western part of New Mexico Territory. Johnston does not show this latter territory, except for a "ghost" title ("Arizona") which is in the southern half of New Mexico. This reflects the original proposal to make the new territory there, which was rejected by the northern dominated Congress of the Civil War years. An earlier version of the map showed Arizona as the Southerners had hoped and the title was left on this map, though shaded very lightly so it hardly appears. Johnston does show Idaho, but in an incorrect configuration (probably one of the possible shapes considered by Congress). Idaho was at first created so it was a large rectangle, covering most of today's Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. On this map, Idaho is shown as extending only in the southern part of this rectangle, the northern part shown as still belonging to Washington and Dakota. Americans had a hard time keeping up with the political changes in the west, so it shouldn't be surprising the British did as well, even as prominent a cartographer as Keith Johnston. $285

"Verein-Staaten am Stillen Ocean" Hildburghausen, Ravenstein, E.G., 1866. 13 3/8 x 16 3/4. Lithograph. Original outline color. A few small tears along margins. Overall, very good condition. Denver.

A nice map of the Western US from the German atlas Meyer's-Hand-Atlas. German cartographers were well known for their accuracy and attention to detail, which this map nicely illustrates. This map indicates a large array of topographical elements such as mountains and rivers, as well as nicely showing human elements such as the location of major Indian tribes like the "Crow", "Dacota Sioux" and "Shyennes". This map has Idaho is incorrectly shown as encompassing only the southern half of its original configuration. In addition, the borders between California, Utah, Arizona and Nevada are drawn incorrectly, with California's southeast border extending all the way to the Colorado River up to the Utah border. The central great basin is described as being inhabited by the "Pah-Utah." Overall, an interesting map of the west at a time of considerable change, which the Germans, as well as Americans, had trouble keeping track of! $175

"Map of Kansas, Nebraska and Colorado Showing also The Southern portion of Dacotah." Philadelphia: S. Augustus Mitchell, Jr., 1866. 11 1/2 x 14. Lithograph. Full original color. Very good condition. Denver.

For most of the middle part of the nineteenth century, the firm founded by S. Augustus Mitchell dominated American cartography in output and influence. This fine map is from one of his son's atlases issued second half of the century. This map shows the territories of Kansas and Nebraska just a year before their statehood, along with the territories of Wyoming and Colorado. After the Civil War, this region was flooded with settlers, miners and others seeking new opportunities in the burgeoning American west. This map shows this area when it was the classic "Wild West" of popular lore. The eastern parts of Kansas and Nebraska are shown well settled, and in the west are shown new settlements, the newly laid railroads, forts, and Indian tribes. The southern part of the "Dacotah" territory is shown and present-day Wyoming is noted as "Attached to Dacotah." With updated maps in most atlases, Mitchell pictured this fascinating part of American history and this is one of the more interesting snapshots. $195

Colton's Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and British Columbia 1867
"Colton's Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, and British Columbia." New York: G.W. & C.B. Colton, 1867. 16 3/4 x 26 3/4. Lithograph. Full original hand-coloring. Very good condition. Denver.

An excellent map of the northwestern part of the United States, along with southern British Columbia. This area was going through many changes in the 1860s because of the increase settlement in the northwest, but also because of the Idaho Gold Rush (1860-63). From 1846, all of the United States west of the Rockies and north of California had consisted of the Oregon Territory and then, in 1854, of Oregon and Washington Territories. In 1863, Idaho Territory was created in the eastern part, but also including what had been the western part of the Dakota Territory to the east of the Continental Divide. This territory was too large for administrative purposes, so a year later, in 1864, the northeastern part of this large Idaho Territory was broken off as the Montana Territory, as shown on this map just three years later. At that time, what had been the southeastern part of Idaho (essentially present-day Wyoming) was attached back to Dakota Territory, until it became its own territory in 1868. This map is one of the first to show Wyoming as its own territory, a year before the official creation of Wyoming! This "jumping the gun" by publishers was not unusual, as fierce competition often spurred the companies to try and be the first to show new developments.

This region was a "happening" place in the 1860s and this map includes an impressive amount of information. The settlement and development of Oregon and Washington east of the Cascades is nicely illustrated, while in the eastern parts mostly Indian tribes are shown. The gold rush settlements and development in Idaho and Montana are clearly depicted, as are forts and Indian tribes. With the movement of prospectors and settlers throughout the region shown, it is particularly interesting that the map includes many of the early trails, including "Emigrant Road," "Pony Express Route," the "Overland Mail Route," and "Cherokee Trail," as well as routes of early explorers such as Fremont, Stansbury, and Mullen. $285

Keeler American West<
William J. Keeler. "National Map of the Territory of the United States from the Mississippi to the Pacific Ocean." Washington: W.J. Keeler, 1867. Separately issued map, mounted on original linen for folding and with original covers. 47 5/8 x 57 5/ 8. Drawn by N. du Bois. Lithograph by J.F. Gedney. Full original color. With some partial separations at folds. Else, very good condition. Martin & Martin: 47; Wheat: 1170. Denver.

One of the great maps of the American West, Keeler's monumental image shows the region poised on the eve of the huge development that was soon to follow. After the territory of the United States reached the Pacific coastline, and with the outgrowth of myriad reasons for the citizens to desire better access to the western lands-gold, land, and other tremendous opportunities-there built a tremendous demand for the construction of railroads lines to the West. Thus was set in motion a series of government surveys, resulting in an 1855 map by Lt. G.K. Warren, which proposed four possible railroad routes to the Pacific. Though the nation's attention was directed elsewhere during the Civil War, western expansion quickly reopened with a great rush of post-war settlers and speculators. Growing public interest in the region's character, geography, and railroads spurred William J. Keeler, an Indian Bureau engineer, to privately produce this excellent and highly detailed map of the entire western United States.

As Susan Schulten comments in Mapping the Nation, Keeler's map "anticipates the momentum of western developmentā€¦His map celebrated the economic potential of the highlighting mineral lands, transportation routes, and progress of the [national] survey." Carl Wheat calls it, "A complete Railroad Map, the only one published which shows the whole of the great Pacific Railroad routes and their projections and branches, together with all other railroads in the States and Territories bordering the Mississippi on both sides."

Keeler based his rendering in part on the Warren map and the Pacific railroad surveys, but he added much extra information, especially on the railroads. With access to the records of the Indian Bureau, Keeler added data on many Indian settlements and reservations, the latter identified with a color code. Besides this detail, Keeler also showed forts, exploration and travel routes, settlements, mines, and more-much of this information depicted for the first time on a general map. At the beginning of the huge western expansion of the post-Civil War period, this was the most detailed and accurate of all maps of the American West. Privately issued and sold as a separate publication, mounted on linen and folded into covers, this is a rare and most desirable cartographic document of considerable historic note. $6,800

A sequence of maps of the plains states

This is a series of maps showing the plains states by S. Augustus Mitchell, Jr. These maps show the plains at a time when the railroads were opening up the region to new settlement. Completed in 1869, the transcontinental railroad ran across the center of the area shown here, from Omaha to the South Pass in western Wyoming, and construction on the next transcontinental line, the Northern Pacific, began further north the year after. The railroads facilitated the movement of emigrants through and into this area--already begun by the emigration to Oregon, the California Gold Rush and Pike's Peak Gold Rush (noted on the maps as "Gold Region"). This led to the creation of new territories such as Colorado, Dakota, Montana, and the recently created Wyoming (1869). With the rapid development of the area, Mitchell issued a series of maps in subsequent years showing these changes.

Special offer: Purchase any two maps from the sequence of maps below and receive a 10% discount