Antique United States Map Reproductions

Map of the United States of America, The British Provinces, with parts of Mexico and the West Indies. , Colton, J.H., New York, 1847

A reproduction of a hand-colored copper plate engraved wall map. Original size: 37-/12 inches X 46 inches.

This very rare map of the United States was captured on copper plate immediately following the annexation of Texas as a state and the outbreak of the U.S. war with Mexico. Monterey, the location of the opening battle of the war can be seen on this map just south of the Texas border. Texas is illustrated in it's final republican form with the tall panhandle extending past the Spanish Peaks in todays Colorado and encompassing the old city of Santa Fe. It shows a southern border along the Rio Grande, a primary reason for the outbreak of war. It also illustrates an enlarged Indian Territory with tribe locations and an unorganized Nebraska.

There are many other features of interesting note on this important period map, including the location of "Rock Independence" on the Oregon Trail, "Floyds Grave", and Fort Mandan from the Lewis & Clark expedition on the Missouri River. Roads interconnect most cities and towns, railroads are yet to appear in much of the country except for a few places in the eastern states.

This map has a highly decorative flower and leaf border with medallions at each corner.


Map of the United States from the Latest Authorities , Ensign, T. & E.H., 1847, New York

A reproduction of a hand-colored engraved map. Original size: 31-1/4 inches X 41-1/4 inches

Inset maps: Southern Part of Florida; Map of Texas; Map of Oregon. The map has a very ornamental border with cartouches for each state containing statistical information including date the State joined the union and the population in 1840. The main cartouche is an engraved vignette of eagle on a globe with commerce and transportation motifs in background.

On the map proper, East Texas is shown. The inset map of Texas shows the entire state except for the Panhandle and Trans-Pecos West. The cartouche on Texas states: "Texas admitted into the Union 1845 Area of 324,018 square m. Population 1840 140,000.


New Railroad Map of the United States and Territories , Cram, George, 1883, published by George F. Cram, Western Map Depot, Chicago

A reproduction of a hand-colored lithograph map. Original size: 52.6 cm x 72.5 cm. Scale: 1 inch = approximately 100 miles.

Founded in 1869, the George F. Cram company survived almost all other 19th century map publishers to remain a major name in the industry until the company was sold in 1920. The company produced many maps and atlases, including The Standard Atlas of the United States, from which this map was taken.

American railroad mapping began when pioneers and fortune seekers began moving west over an inadequately charted continent. The western frontier of America was expanding the opportunities to exploit the natural resources. Agricultural products demanded new and improved ways of moving product to markets in the eastern U.S. The resulting transportation revolution began with privately owned ferries, turnpikes and toll roads, continued with canals and steamships, then reached maturity in the 1830's with the introduction of steam locomotives and private rail ways. Surveys for the construction of tracks created demands for special mapping and induced map producers to illustrate the progress of planned and completed lines on pocket maps and in "travelers guides", as well as on general maps.

By 1843, railroads were beginning to play and important and dominant role in the transportation system of the country. The discovery of gold in California stimulated the demand for maps and surveys in the 1850's, followed by demand during the Civil War years because of the strategic importance of rail transportation to the militaries of both North and South.

Members of the U.S. Congress discussed the possibility of railroads that would connect the nation from Atlantic coast to Pacific coast before the Oregon Treaty of Washington was signed in 1846. The U.S.- Mexican War and the resulting treaty opened the possibility for alternate routes to the coast via a "southern route" instead of through the Rocky Mountains. The discovery of gold and the ever expanding western frontier demanded that a practical and economical coast to coast route be determined. In 1853, money was appropriated by Congress for the Army Topographical Corps to survey routes and make a recommendation. Secretary of War Jefferson Davis had five routes selected, roughly following specific parallels, and ordered them to be surveyed by parties under the supervision of the Topographical Corps. In time, these surveys showed that the route near the 32nd parallel would be the least expensive. The survey's also greatly contributed to the topographical and geographical knowledge of the American frontier.

Just as the earliest railroad surveys in the East in the 1830's influenced mapping activities, the great amount of data derived from the Pacific surveys of the 1850's similarly stimulated cartographic activities. The Railroad Act of 1862 put government support behind the transcontinental rail effort and seven years later, on May 10, 1869, the Union Pacific Railroad joined with the Central Pacific at Promontory, Utah, to link the continental coasts by rail way.

Following the consolidation and rapid growth of American railroads after the stock market panic of 1873, many commercial maps were produced to show the spreading transportation network.

This map notes the rail ways across America, including the names of the owner or operating rail line and every stop on the system. Many topographical features are also noted, such as "rolling table land" and "volcanic table lands" along with the names of rivers, lakes, and mountains. The Yellowstone area is noted as a National Park, but is not named. The western half of the country appears to be sparsely populated, the locations of post offices, frontier forts, and Indian agencies are noted.

Finally, the only rail way illustrated as "coast to coast" in this rare and historic document of the American Western frontier is the Union Pacific / Central Pacific Railroad.


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