Central Pacific Railroad Photographic History Museum




of the United States

A Selective Annotated Bibliography of Original

19th-century Maps in the

Geography and Map Division

of the Library of Congress



AMERICAN RAILROAD MAPPING had its inception early in the 19th century when people began moving inland over the inadequately charted continental landscape. The expanding frontier, the rich agricultural production of the land, and exploitation of natural resources demanded improved methods of transport. The transportation revolution was initiated with construction of privately owned toll or turnpike roads, gathered momentum with the introduction of steamships and canal building, and reached maturity in the 1830's with the introduction of steampowered railroads.1

Soon after James Watt developed the steam engine, the invention was adapted by John Fitch in 1787 to propel a ship on the Delaware and in the same year by James Rumsey on the Potomac River. Fitch, an American inventor and surveyor, had two years earlier published his "Map of the Northwest" to finance the building of a commercial steamboat. With Robert Fulton's steamboat, the Clermont, and a boat built by John Stevens, the use of steam power for vessels became firmly established. Railroads and the use of steam propulsion developed separately, however, and it was not until the two systems merged that railroads began to flourish.

The use of rails for heavily loaded, wheeled vehicles to reduce friction was introduced in England as early as the 17th century. The first American "tramroad" or "gravity road" was erected in 1764 for military purposes at the Niagara portage in Lewiston, N. Y., under the direction of Capt. John Montressor, a British engineer, known to students of historical cartography also as a mapmaker. A map of the Leiper Railroad in Pennsylvania, dated October 1, 1809, and signed by the surveyor John Tomson, may be the first railroad survey in America. The original has, seemingly, not survived. A reproduction, entitled "Draft Exhibiting. . . the Railway Contemplated by John Leiper Esq. From His Stone Sawmill and Quarries ... to His Landing on Ridley Creek," however, illustrates Robert P. Robins' A Short Account of the First Permanent Tramway in America (Philadelphia, 1886).2 The first of the commercial "tramroads" was surveyed and constructed in 1826 at Quincy, Mass., by Gridley Bryant, with the machinery for it developed by Solomon Willard. It was to utilize horsepower to haul granite, needed for building the Bunker Hill Monument,3 from the quarries at Quincy, four miles to the wharf on the Neponset River. The following year the Mauch Chunk "gravity road," used for transporting anthracite coal, was constructed in Pennsylvania.4

John Stevens, who shares credit with Fulton for inventing the steamboat, is considered to be the father of American railroads. In 1826 Stevens demonstrated the feasibility of steam locomotion on a circular experimental track constructed on his estate in Hoboken, N. J. Three years later George Stephenson perfected a practical steam locomotive in England. The first railroad charter in the United States was granted to Stevens in 1815.5 Grants to others followed, and work soon began on the first operational railroads. Surveying and construction started on the Baltimore and Ohio in 1830, and 14 miles of track were opened before the year ended. (See entry 332. [Note; "Entry" numbers refer to the list of Library of Congress maps that comprise most of this book, but which is not reproduced here.]) This roadbed was extended in 1831 to Frederick, Md., and, in 1832, to Point of Rocks. Until 1831, when a locomotive of American manufacture was placed in service, the B & O relied upon horsepower. Soon joining the B & O as operating lines were the Mohawk and Hudson, opened in September 1830; the Saratoga, opened in July 1832; and the South Carolina Canal and Rail Road Company, whose 136 miles of track, completed to Hamburg, constituted in 1833 the longest steam railroad in the world. (See entry 299.) The Columbia Railroad of Pennsylvania, completed in 1834, and the Boston and Providence, completed in June 1835, were other early lines. (See entries 1, 348, and 610.) Surveys for and construction of tracks for these and other pioneer railroads not only created demands for special mapping but also induced mapmakers to show progress of surveys and completed lines on general maps and on maps in "travelers guides." (See entry 5.)

Publication of 19th-century American railroad maps paralleled similar developments in Europe. British railroads were first shown on a map in Philippe Vandermaelen's Atlas de L'Europe, published in Brussels in two volumes between 1829 and 1833. In 1835 Robert Stephenson, brother and partner of George Stephenson, drew one of the first English railroad survey maps for the "London and Birmingham Railway." Published in 1838 were C.F. Cheffin's lithographic map of the same line at a larger scale and J.R. Jobbins' lithographic maps of England and Wales and of the London and Southampton Railway. Also in 1838, Irish railroads were depicted by Henry Drury Harness, an early statistical cartographer.6

Planning, surveying and mapping, and construction of railroads in America progressed rapidly and haphazardly, without direction or supervision from the states that granted charters to construct such works. Before 1840 most surveys were made for short passenger lines which proved to be financially unprofitable. Because steampowered railroads had stiff competition from canal companies, many partially completed lines were abandoned. It was not until the Boston and Lowell Railroad diverted traffic from the Middlesex Canal that the success of the new mode of transportation was assured. (See entry 346.) The industrial and commercial depression and the panic of 1837 slowed railroad construction. Interest was revived, however, with completion of the Western Railroad in Massachusetts in 1843. This line conclusively demonstrated the feasibility of transporting agricultural products and other commodities by rail for long distances at low cost. Within the next 20 years railroads were playing a dominant role in the transportation system of the country. In the Middle West interest in building railroads was strong, and many lines were mapped and subsequently constructed to connect the leading centers of commerce. Interest also increased in the South, where natural waterways had previously provided adequate transportation for commercial traffic. By 1850, when the incentive to survey and map public works on a large scale was stimulated by the discovery of gold in California, the existing railroad network provided an excellent base for a productive decade of American railroad surveying and mapping.7

The Civil War provided another stimulus for railroad mapping, because of the strategic importance of rail transportation to the armies. (See entries 137-143.) After the war, railroad builders became aware of the traffic- generating potentials of the scenic wonders of the West. Jay Cooke and Company, financiers of the Northern Pacific Extension Project, and other promoters, accordingly, lobbied for the establishment of Yellowstone National Park. To make it accessible to tourists, they persuaded park promoters to support completion of the railroad to coincide with the opening of the park in 1872. Not until 1883, however, did a rail spur extend to within three miles of the park. (See entries 449-501.) Other railroads followed the lead in promoting establishment of resorts and national parks.8 This created additional demand for maps to illustrate reports, promotional literature, displays, and timetables from the thousands of railroad and promotional firms which sprang up in the 19th century. (See entries 399 and 400.)

Technological advances in papermaking and printing which permitted quick and inexpensive reproduction of maps also greatly benefited railroad cartography. Before the introduction of these new techniques, maps were laboriously engraved, in reverse, usually on copper plates, and printed on hand presses. Although the results were excellent, this was a slow and costly process which could not keep pace with the demand for railroad maps. Introduction of lithography to America, a process invented in 1798 by Alois Senefelder of Bavaria, came at an opportune time, just as the first railroad charter was being granted in 1815. This invention revolutionized map printing and provided the means for inexpensive map reproduction. Within two years after William and John Pendleton established the first important lithographic printing house in Boston in 1825, their firm was printing railroad surveys and reports for the earliest New England railroad companies.9

Even after lithographic printing in map production became common, engraving continued in use for many years for finer and more limited works. As late as 1848 Peter S. Duval of Philadelphia engraved map plates of Virginia for Claudius Crozet, principal engineer to the Commonwealth. (See entry 307.) Some firms, like G.W. and C.B. Colton of New York, used copper plates through the 1860's and 1870's. Others utilized both reproduction methods, and in some instances "engraving" was done on stone. (See entries 92, 124, 126, 174, and 396.) Technical advances were quickly adapted to map printing. The transfer process eliminated most of the laborious procedure of drawing on stone in reverse. By the use of specially prepared paper and ink, an illustration or a newly drawn map could be transferred directly to a stone or a zinc plate. The use of "zincography" in America as early as 1849 is credited to P.S. Duval's Swiss shop foreman, Frederick Bourquin. Zinc plates were adaptable to the rotary steampower press, which was first installed by Duval in his Philadelphia lithographic establishment.10 (See entries 81, 600, and 601.)

Another important printing process, cerography or wax engraving, was introduced in America by Sidney Edwards Morse, whose father Jedidiah Morse published in 1784 the first geography book in the United States, Geography Made Easy. The process was first used in 1839 for Morse's "Cerographic Map of Connecticut," and in 1842, for the Cerographic Atlas of the United States. This was an ingenious method of making a mold from which a printing plate was cast. On a thin layer of wax applied to a copper plate, lines and symbols, and later type, were inscribed or impressed. Through an electroplating process, a relief mold was produced from which single sheet maps were printed. The process was kept secret by Morse. It became more widely utilized after Rand McNally introduced its wax engraving process in 1872. From the 1870's through the first four decades of the 20th century, this method of printing became popular with large map printing houses in the United States. The firm of George F. Cram and Company, well known for its railroad maps and other geographic publications, adopted the process in the 1880's with introduction of its Universal Family Atlas of the World. Matthews-Northrup and Company also utilized this method for printing their numerous railroad maps. Multicolor printing, the development of photolithography, and the offset press further accelerated railroad map production and greatly reduced prices11

Color lithography to distinguish regions and administrative divisions on maps was introduced as early as the 1850's. (See entry 86.) Color to accentuate the many lines of intricate railroad networks, however, continued to be manually applied to many maps at the end of the century, including Rand McNally's elephant-sized maps of the 1890's, which are discussed in detail at the end of this essay.

To fill requests for special-purpose maps, the new printing methods contributed greatly to the volume and variety of railroad maps. This is reflected in the Library's large and comprehensive collection of American railroad maps, the majority of which were acquired through copyright deposits following the passage of the Copyright Law in 1870. Earlier maps, many detached from pamphlets, journals, timetables, and annual reports of the companies, were acquired as gifts and by purchase. Many railroad maps were among the cartographic items which constituted the Library's collection when a separate Map Division was formed in 1897. These are listed in Philip Lee Phillips' A List of Maps of America in the Library of Congress (Washington, Govt. Print. Off., 1901).

A large segment of commercially produced railroad maps, perhaps as much as 30 percent, was deposited by the New York City publishing house established in 1831 by Joseph Hutchins Colton. This firm was known the world over for the quality, quantity, and variety of its publications, including maps, atlases, and school geographies.12 Henry Varnum Poor, in the introduction to his History of the Railroads and Canals of the United States of America (1860), commends the series of Colton's railroad maps which illustrate his work. "All the maps," Poor wrote, "are drawn and engraved under the supervision of G. Woolworth Colton, Esq., whose diligence, accuracy and extensive information are sufficient guarantee for their correctness."13 Indeed, Colton's maps from the early 1850's to the last decade of the century, most of which were subtitled "Colton's Railroad and Township Map," surpassed in quality and quantity other maps published in the 19th century. Other reputable map publishing. firms of the period include Asher & Adams of New York, James T. Lloyd and Company of New York and London, Matthews-Northrup and Company and J. Sage and Sons of Buffalo, Gaylord Watson of New York and Chicago, and later in the century, the Chicago firms of Rand McNally and George F. Cram. The last two are still in the map business.

Other maps among the more than 5,000 railroad maps in the Geography and Map Division include progress report surveys for individual lines, official government surveys, promotional maps (some of which, such as entry 425, were geographically distorted to exaggerate the size and routes of one line), Pacific Railroad Surveys, maps that show the extent of railroad land grants, maps locating rights-of-way, and route guides published by commercial firms. Some railroad maps cover the entire country or large portions of it and show the entire railroad network. Others are limited to a specific railroad or show one survey line, often with adjacent connections. Numerous maps show rail lines within one state, county, or geographic region. These and many other general maps, the U.S. Post Office's "Post Route Maps," and the earlier editions of the large-scale, topographical quadrangle maps, published by the U.S. Geological Survey since its establishment in 1879 but not listed here, provide excellent source material for the search of abandoned railroad lines.

In the Library's collections are maps from the earliest era of railroad mapmaking, Henry Schenck Tanner's "Map of the Canals & Rail Roads of the United States," dated 1830, is an early general map, depicting "working lines" on the eastern seaboard and in Kentucky, Alabama, and Louisiana. Located on the map are routes of the Columbia Railroad in Pennsylvania and the B & O in Maryland. (See entry 1.) In his 1829 Memoir on the Recent Surveys, Observations and Internal Improvements in the United States Tanner lists "Brief Notices" on "Rail Roads Never Before Delineated." He notes that in New England "some spirited individuals have adopted legislative measures to ensure an early completion for the Boston and Providence Railroad, whose surveys have been completed."14 The Boston and Providence is the earliest line represented by a printed survey from a progress report in the Library's map collections. (See entry 348.) The map, dated January 1828, shows proposed lines of a survey two and a half years before the railroad was chartered in June 1831.15

It illustrated the Massachusetts Board of Commissioners of Internal Improvements' Report in Relation to the Examination of Sundry Routes for a Railway from Boston to Providence; with a Memoir of the Survey (Boston, Dutton & Wentworth, printers to the state, 1828). It is also interesting to note that in the report the commissioners believed "that horse power will be most expedient for application to the uses of this road." The report is the one referred to by Tanner in the above cited Memoir. This map is one of the very first products of George G. Smith and William B. Annin, who in 1828 established a printing firm bearing the name of the inventor of lithography, the Senefelder Lithography Company of Boston. The firm was taken over by the Pendletons in 1830.16

The collections also include examples of original manuscript railroad maps, among which are several prepared by the Confederate engineer, Maj. Jedediah Hotchkiss. The Hotchkiss Map Collection was acquired by the Library in 1948.17 Another noteworthy manuscript map, drawn in 1843, is the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company's "Map of the Country West of Cumberland," referred to in the Report of the Chief Engineer of September 20th, 1843. This large map, at the scale of 1:316,800 and approximately 2 1/2 x 4 feet in size, is hand colored on tracing linen. It embraces western Pennsylvania, western Maryland, parts of Virginia and West Virginia and most of Ohio and indicates several "preferred" and "'surveyed" lines to Wheeling and Pittsburgh as well as other possible northern and southern routes in the area. (See entry 335.)

One of the earliest printed government surveys was "drawn from the original plot" by Lt. Andrew Atkinson Humphreys, who as chief of the Office of Western Explorations and Surveys some years later supervised the making of the maps for the Pacific Railroad Surveys, including G.K. Warren's monumental map of the transmississippi west.18 (See entry 174.) Humphrey's "Map of the Routes Examined and Surveyed for the Winchester and Potomac Rail Road, State of Virginia, Under the Direction of Capt. J.D. Graham, U.S. Top. Eng., 1831 and 1832," was based on surveys by Lts. A.D. Mackay and E. French in 1831 and Lts. French and J.F. Izard in 1832. The map was published to accompany the "Documents concerning Winchester and Potomac Railroad," 24th Congress, 2d Session, House Document 465. This topographic map, submitted to the Bureau of Topographical Engineers in 1832, shows surveys in strips along the projected railroad routes and identifies property owners. It covers the country between the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers as far as Winchester, Va. A table lists the surveyed routes. This line, constructed to connect with the B & O at Harpers Ferry, was designed to divert Shenandoah Valley wheat from the city of Alexandria and stimulate the growth of Baltimore. Completion of the line in 1836 greatly contributed to the decline of Alexandria. (See entry 619.)

Also in 1832, the Orange and Alexandria Railroad Company was chartered. It was not until 1848, however, that this company was organized to recover for the city of Alexandria some of the trade previously lost to Baltimore and Richmond. Construction on the line began in 1850 and was completed to Culpeper by 1852 and to Gordonsville in 1854. At the latter town the line had a junction with the Virginia Central Railroad, and Warrenton was linked by a branch line in 1853. The Manassas Gap Railroad, the first to corss the Blue Ridge Mountains (see entry 453), was completed to Strasburg in 1854 to join Alexandria with the upper Piedmont Valley.19 Detailed descriptions of three original surveys were published in the Proceedings of the Called Meeting of the Stockholders of the Orange and Alexandria Railroad Company, December, 1849. The routes on the maps generally follow the survey lines as reported by Chief Engineer Thomas C. Atkinson at the fifth annual meeting of the stockholders, held in Alexandria, October 24, 1854. No map is appended to the report, but in the Geography and Map Division there is a "Map and Profile of the Orange and Alexandria Railroad with its Warrenton Branch and a Portion of the Manassas Gap Railroad," which was drawn by August Faul and printed about 1854 by Ackerman Lithography of New York. This map, annotated to show geological structures along the route of the railroad, is an example of the general survey maps prepared to illustrate progress reports of individual railroads, as well as of specific right-of-way surveys. (See entry 508.)

Early railroad surveys and construction were financed by private investors. Before the 1850 land grant to the Illinois Central Railroad, indirect federal subsidies were provided by route surveys made by army engineers. In the 1824 General Survey Bill to establish works of internal improvements, railroads were not specifically mentioned. Part of the appropriation under this act for the succeeding year, however, was used for "Examinations and surveys to ascertain the practicability of uniting the headwaters of the Kanawha with the James river and the Roanoke river, by Canals or Rail-Roads."20 In his Congressional History of Railways, Lewis H. Haney credits these surveys as being the first to receive federal aid. He notes that such grants to states and corporations for railway surveys became routine before the act was repealed in 1838.

The earliest printed map in the collections, based on government surveys conducted for a state owned railroad, is "Map of the Country Embracing the Various Routes Surveyed for the Western & Atlantic Rail Road of Georgia, 1837." (See entry 613.) The surveys were made under the direction of Lt. Col. Stephen H. Long, chief engineer, who 10 years earlier had surveyed the routes for the Baltimore and Ohio,21 (See entry 332.) Work on the 138-mile Georgia route from Atlanta to Chattanooga started in 1841, and by 1850 the line was open to traffic. Its strategic location made it a key supply route for the Confederacy. It was on this line that the famous "Andrews Raid" of April 1862 occurred when Union soldiers disguised as railroad employees captured the locomotive known as the "General."22 (See entry 614.)

The possibility of railroads connecting the Atlantic and Pacific coasts was discussed in Congress even before the treaty with England which settled the "Oregon Question" in 1846.23 Chief promoter of a transcontinental railroad was Asa Whitney, a New York merchant active in the China trade, whose obsession was a railroad to the Pacific. In January 1845 he petitioned Congress for a charter and a grant of a 60-mile strip through the public domain to help finance construction.24 Whitney suggested the use of Irish and German immigrant labor which was at the time in great abundance. Wages were to be paid in land, and the workers were thus to become settlers along the route and, subsequently, patrons and suppliers for the completed line. Failure of Congress to act on his proposal was mainly due to the vigorous opposition of Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri, who favored a western route originating at St. Louis.

In 1849 Whitney published a booklet to promote his Project for a Railroad to the Pacific. It was accompanied by an untitled outline map of North America which shows the route of his railroad from Prairie du Chien, Wis., across the Rocky Mountains north of South Pass. An alternate route to the south of the pass joined the main line at the Salmon River and continued to Puget Sound. Proposed lines also extended from St. Louis to San Francisco and from Independence, Mo. to New Mexico and the Arkansas River. This is one of the earliest promotional maps submitted to Congress and was, according to its author, conceived as early as 1830.25 (See entry 14.)

Although Congress failed to sanction his plan, Whitney made the Pacific railroad one of the great public issues of the day. The acquisition of California following the Mexican War opened the way for other routes to the coast. Discovery of gold, the expanding frontier, and success of the eastern railroads increased interest in building a railroad to the Pacific.26 Railroads were also needed in the West to provide better postal service, as had been developed in the East in 1838 by designating railroad lines "post roads." Strengthened by other proposals, including those of Hartwell Carver in 1849 and of Edwin F. Johnson in 1853 (see entry 24), such leading statesmen as John C. Calhoun, Stephen A. Douglas, and Jefferson Davis declared their support for linking the country by rails. The lawmakers, however, could not agree on an eastern terminus and they did not comprehend the merits of the several routes west. To remedy this situation money was appropriated in 1853 for the Army Topographical Corps "to ascertain the most practicable and economical route for a railroad from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean."

Under the provisions of the Army Appropriation Act of March 1853, Secretary of War Jefferson Davis was directed to survey possible routes to the Pacific. Five selected routes, roughly following specific parallels, were to be surveyed by parties under the supervision of the Topographical Corps. The most northerly survey, between the 47th and 49th parallels, was under the direction of Isaac Ingalls Stevens, governor of Washington Territory. This route closely approximated that proposed by Asa Whitney.

The ill-fated party under Capt. John W. Gunnison was to explore the route along the 38th and 39th parallels, or the Cochetopa Pass route, advocated by Senator Benton. Because he failed to get John Charles Frémont appointed to head this expedition, Benton promoted two well-publicized, privately financed ventures in the same year, one headed by Edward F. Beale and the other by Frémont. After Gunnison's death at the hands of hostile Indians, Lt. Edward G. Beckwith continued the survey along the 41st parallel. Capt. Amiel W. Whipple, assistant astronomer of the Mexican Boundary Survey, and Lt. Joseph Christmas Ives surveyed the routes of the 35th parallel, westward to southern California. This was essentially the route traversed by Josiah Gregg in 1839 and later surveyed by Col. John J. Abert. When the results of the surveys were analyzed it was apparent that additional data on the roadbeds, grades, and passes were needed for the 32d parallel route to California. Lt. John G. Parke resurveyed along the Gila River between the Pima villages and the Rio Grande. Capt. John Pope mapped the eastern portion of the route from Dona Ana, N. Mex., to the Red River. Topographical surveys to locate passes through the Sierra Nevadas and the Coast Range in California and to determine the route that would connect California, Oregon, and Washington were made under the direction of Lt. Robert S. Williamson.27 (See entries 146- 174.)

These surveys showed that a railroad could follow any one of the five routes and that the 32d parallel route was the least expensive. The Southern Pacific Railroad was subsequently built along this parallel. (See entry 567.) The southern routes were objectionable to northern politicians and the northern routes were objectionable to the southern politicians, but the surveys could not, of course, resolve these sectional issues. The surveys contributed greatly, however, to the geographical knowledge of the American West and provided source materials for making detailed railroad and general maps.

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 similarly stimulated cartographic activities. The wealth of data used in compiling 22 large individual maps published with the 13 handsomely illustrated volumes of the Pacific Railroad Surveys,28 was the basic source material for Lt. Gouverneur Kemble Warren's "Map of the Territory of the United States from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean." (See entry 174.) With Warren's map the work of the Topographical Engineers on the preliminary Pacific surveys came to an end.29

Because of the accelerating flow of new information, Warren recognized, in his Memoir to Accompany the Map, the difficulty of keeping such a map up to date. He stated that "the work of compilation . . . must necessarily be frequently repeated; and to aid the future compiler, I have prepared the accompanying memoir upon the different maps and books used, and upon the manner in which their discrepancies have been resolved." He gratefully acknowledged the work of Edward Freyhold in "the beautiful execution of the topography upon the map . . . ... The first revision of the map, drawn by Freyhold, was engraved on stone by Julius Bien of New York. Described under entry 174, the map is in President Millard Fillmore's collection and bears his signature and the date December 19, 1863. This map, like the first edition, lists 45 major surveys and mapping reports from the time of Lewis and Clark to the General Land Office Surveys of the late 1850's.

While sectional issues and disagreements were debated in the late 1850's, no action was forthcoming from Congress on the Pacific railroad question. Theodore D. Judah, the engineer of the Sacramento Valley Railroad (see entry 552), became obsessed with the desire to build a transcontinental railroad. In 1860 he approached Leland Stanford, Collis P. Huntington, Mark Hopkins, and Charles Crocker, leading Sacramento merchants, and soon convinced them that building a transcontinental line would make them rich and famous. The prospect of tapping the wealth of the Nevada mining towns and forthcoming legislation for federal aid to railroads stimulated them to incorporate the Central Pacific Railroad Company of California. This line later merged with the Southern Pacific. (See entry 567.) It was through Judah's efforts and the support of Abraham Lincoln, who saw military benefits in the line's as well as the bonding of the Pacific coast to the Union, that the Pacific railroad finally became a reality. The Railroad Act of 1862 put government support behind the transcontinental railroad and helped create the Union Pacific Railroad (see entry 588), which subsequently joined with the Central Pacific at Promontory, Utah, on May 10, 1869, and signaled the linking of the continent.

The second half of the 19th century was the era of railroad land grants. Between 1850 and 1872 extensive cessions of public lands were made to states and to railroad companies to promote railroad construction.30 In general, the companies received from the federal government, in 20- or 50-mile strips, usually 20 alternate sections of public land for each mile of track that was built. Responsibility for surveying and mapping the grants fell to the U.S. General Land Office, now the Bureau of Land Management. Numerous maps of the United States and individual states and counties were made which clearly indicated the sections of the granted land and the railroad rights-of-way. The maps recorded the progress of the surveys in the public domain and usually indicated major drainage, relief by hachures, township and range lines, roads, railroads, and major cities and towns.

Typical of the land-grant maps is a "Map Showing the Location of the Road and the Land Grant of the Atlantic and Pacific R.R. in New Mexico," published in 1883. Sometimes called the 35th parallel road, this railroad was created by an Act of Congress, approved July 27, 1866. The total grant amounted to some 42 million acres for a line from Springfield, Mo. to the Pacific coast, a distance of about 2,000 miles. (See entry 329.) The "Map of Franklin County, Arkansas; Showing the Land Grant of the Little Rock & Fort Smith Railway," published in 1893, shows how much land was still owned by one railroad in one county some 20 years after the era of land grants. (Compare entries 443 and 444.) Land-grant maps, which were published for many years, were frequently used by land speculators to advertise railroad lands for sale to the public. As early as 1868 most western railroads established profitable land departments and bureaus of immigration, with offices in Europe, to sell land and promote foreign settlement in the western United States. Consequently the Library's collections also include some foreign- language maps aimed at both the immigrant already on the eastern coast and the prospective one in Europe (see entries 177a and 330) and may have led to the distortion of railroad maps to emphasize one state, area, or line to the advantage of the advertiser. This idea, derived from the government land-grant maps, may have been perpetuated by the mapping of the Illinois Central Railroad after it was granted land along its path in 1850. In John W. Amerman's book entitled The Illinois Central Rail-Road Company Offers for Sale Over 2,000,000 Acres Selected Farming and Wood Land (New York, 1856) appears an "Outline Map of Illinois" which emphasizes the Illinois Central Railroad by a heavy black line, with stations interspersed evenly along the line to give the illusion of proximity of populated places along the line. Another example of a distorted map is Josiah Hunt's advertising map of the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railway published in 1863 (see entry 425), which emphasized its line by a symmetrical strip and heavy black line between Hannibal and St. Joseph, Mo. This practice of manipulating scale, area, and paths of railroads became common practice in advertising maps of the 1870's and early 1880's (see entry 378) and in railroad timetables.

The geographic inaccuracy in railroad maps led George H. Heafford, general passenger agent for the Missouri Pacific, to note in 1878 that, "If this World could be made over according to some of our ideas, I have not the faintest doubt but that the railroads we represent would all be the straightest and shortest lines between every prominent city in the country."31 An 1879 Rand McNally booklet confirms that

map 'designing' to other than a railroad official, might seem a peculiar phrase, but the majority of railroad maps have some 'peculiar designs' hidden under the careful pencil of the draughtsman. It requires a faculty only aquired by experience and a perfect knowledge of the railroad system of the country, to 'design' a good railroad advertising map. The various friendly interests must be shown to best advantage, and the rival interests disposed of in a manner that 'no fellow can find out.' The drawing of a good map is a matter of considerable difficulty, but the 'designing' of a good map involves the exercise of tact and ingenuity. Probably more original map projections have been made in our map drawing room than have ever been produced in the United States. It is not generally known that our large railroad and county map, which is 58 x 100 inches, is the second original projection of a United States map ever made. Our United States and Canada Atlas is made from the same projection.32

This statement, however, does not seem applicable to the large and detailed map of 1876 which indicates drainage, relief by hachures, international, state and county boundaries, cities and towns, railroad stations, canals, roads, trails, a comprehensive railroad network, and railroads under construction. A note on the map states: "The entire map is printed from electrotype plates, sections of which can be used for special railroad maps, publishers premium maps, maps to accompany reports, pamphlets . . . and for various advertising purposes."

Warren's large map incorporating the Pacific railroad surveys was heavily used by such commercial publishers as Joseph H. Colton to revise their maps. (See entry 147a.) A beautifully executed commercial guide map which drew upon the Pacific railroad surveys is entitled "Map of the United States West of the Mississippi Showing the Routes to Pike's Peak, Overland Mail Route to California and Pacific Rail Road Surveys." The map, published in 1859, is accompanied by a seven-page booklet which describes the Overland Mail Route. In his Mapping the Transmississippi West, Carl I. Wheat calls this "the best designed map that appeared in this era, [which] is notable for its clarity." (See entry 176.)

Following the consolidation and rapid growth of American railroads after the panic of 1873, many commercial maps were produced to show the spreading network. One company signaled its emergence into this field by announcing, in January 1873, that

the house of Rand, McNally & Co., beg leave to inform their railroad friends, and the patrons of the [Railway] Guide generally, that they have lately made extensive additions to their engraving department, and are now prepared to execute Map and all kinds of Relief Plate Engraving in the very highest style of the art. The maps of the vicinity of Boston, Baltimore and Washington, and the Engraving on opposite page, are given in this number of the Guide, as specimens of Engraving for ordinary printing. The perfect clearness with which these maps are shown to be printed is a guarantee of the class of work turned out.33

Rand McNally's output in the late 19th century rivaled the volume of maps, guides, illustrated timetables, and atlases produced by Colton. In 1858 William H. Rand, a native of Boston, established a printing office in Chicago and employed as a printer Andrew McNally. By 1868 Rand and McNally had formed a partnership which soon acquired a reputation as specialists in railroad printing. In 1871 they introduced the Rand McNally Railway Guide. Less than a year after their business was destroyed in the 1871 Chicago fire, the company's first two maps appeared in the December 1872 issue of the Guide. In response to the need by the railroads for maps in timetables and other publications, Rand and McNally opened a map department in late 1872. With adoption of the wax engraving process, followed in May 1873 by the employment of a color printing process, Rand McNally's reputation as one of the world's leading commercial mapmakers was established.34

A typical early Rand McNally map published in 1874 shows the lines of the "Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway." (See entry 378.) In the borders of the map are picturesque scenes of the country traversed by the railroad, as well as a list of railroad stations in the Middle West. On the verso are timetables and ticket information and a small "Map of the Business District of Chicago" which locates railroad depots. A major accomplishment of this firm was publication in 1876 of their "New Railroad and County Map of the United States and Canada. Compiled from Latest Government Surveys, and Drawn to an Accurate Scale." (See entry 59.)

That same year, Rand McNally used the plates from the large map to produce its famous Commercial Atlas and Marketing Guide, which is now in its 105th edition. The map and the Business Atlas, as it was then known, required the services of 10 compilers and engravers for nearly two years and cost about $20,000.35 Today the atlas continues to be an indispensable reference tool for the business world and the librarian, for it contains the most complete index to place names in the United States, as well as useful railroad information. This information includes a complete list of railroads in the United States, total mileage, distance table, and freight and passenger service to each state or city. Included also is a map of the principal railroad network and state maps which show and list the railroads serving each state. A summary of the current status of major mergers is also included.

Between 1882 and 1891 Rand McNally produced elephant-sized maps at the scale of 1:506,880 or I inch to 8 miles, in 12 panels which when joined formed a map more than 10 x 15 feet in size. The several editions of the map, which covers the country from the east coast to the 105th meridian of longitude, are entitled "Rand McNally & Co's New Railroad junction Point and County Map of the Eastern & Middle States Prepared from Latest Government Surveys, and Verified by the Working Time Tables of the Various Railroads. Drawn, Engraved, Printed, Colored by Hand and Published by Rand, McNally & Co. Chicago." It shows county boundaries, all railroad junctions, and all railroads identified by hand-applied colors. This is probably the map which George H. Heafford stated was "frequently posted on the out-houses, dead-walls and fences of our large cities."

Not all the commercial mapping ventures of the late 19th century represented large and diversified operations. Several interesting manuscript maps of the midwestern states that portray routes of the "Railway Mail Service" and locate working post offices are based on the official "Post Route Maps" and the outsized map mentioned above. These large-scale, hand-drawn maps were designed toward the end of the century by Frank H. Galbraith, an enterprising Chicago railway mail clerk. Pictorial representations, in caricature, which suggest post office names illustrate the maps. Dogwood Post Office, for example, is identified by a picture of a dog, Elizabeth by a queen, Starlight by a star, and Worth by a dollar sign. A printed title cartouche accompanied by a list of counties for each of the states, by McEwen Map Company of Chicago, is pasted on the maps. The maps were devised to serve as memory aids for employees of the Railway Mail Service and the U.S. Post Office Department in quickly locating counties, routes, and post offices in the several states. The maps were not published but were rented, on a fee basis, to practicing or prospective postal workers. (See entry 215.)

The large amount of data made available as a result of 19th-century railroad surveying and mapping activities helped stimulate other mapping ventures. Maps became readily available to the public in quantity and at low prices mainly because of the great advances in 19th-century printing techniques. The vast amount of valuable data gathered by government exploring parties in the West contributed to more accurate commercially produced general maps as well as the specialized railroad and route guide maps. These readily available cartographic reference tools contributed in large measure to the geographical knowledge of the country and assured their survival in map collections.

Railroad map production continued at a strong pace into the early 20th century, until expansion of the network was completed. It declined, slowly, after the peak of railroad building. The largest decline is noted in individual promotional maps and surveys as lines became abandoned or consolidated. General railroad maps, depicting the continental United States - and using the basic style developed in the previous century, continued to be popular until the beginning of World War II. Today separately published maps of individual consolidated systems and small-scale maps printed in timetables and atlases, such as Rand McNally's Handy Railroad Atlas of the United States (Chicago, 1973), continue to reflect the influence of mapping and printing styles developed in the 19th century.


1 John F. Stover, American Railroads (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961), p. 1.

2Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 4 (1880): 422, and 11 (1887):243.

3 Daniel J. Boorstin, The Americans (New York: Random House, 1965), p. 18.

4 Henry Varnum Poor, Manual of the Railroads of the United States for 1870-71 (New York: H.V. & H.W. Poor, 1870), p. xxviii.

5 Thurman W. Van Metre Transportation in the United States (Brooklyn: Foundation Press, 1950), p. 31.

6 Walter W. Ristow, "Lithography and Maps, 1796-1850" (Oral presentation, currently in press, given at the 3d Kenneth Nebenzahl, Jr., lecture on the history of cartography, entitled "500 Years of Map Printing." Newberry Library, Chicago, Center for the History of Cartography, November 3, 1972.)

7 Van Metre, p. 38-39.

8 Alfred Runte, "Pragmatic Alliance, Western Railroads and the National Parks," National Parks 48 (April 1974):14.

9 "Single Rail Railway," [With lithograph plate by Pendleton. Boston, April 30, 1827] No t.p.; date from end of article.

10 Walter W. Ristow, "The Anastatic Process in Map Reproduction," The Cartographic journal 9, no. I (June 1972):37-40.

11 David Woodward, "Cerotyping and Cartography," (Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for Geography 625, University of Wisconsin, Madison, January 1966.)

12 George Woolworth Colton, A Genealogical Record of the Descendants of Quartermaster George Colton (Philadephia: Printed for private circulation by John Milton Colton, 1912), p. 273.

13 Henry Varnum Poor, History of the Railroads and Canals of the United States of America (New York: John H. Schulz & Co., 1860), p. [vi].

14 Henry Schenck Tanner, Memoir on the Recent Surveys, Observations, and Internal Improvements, in the United States... (Philadelphia: Published by the Author, 1829), p. 19.

15 Poor, p. 103.

16 Ristow, "Lithography and Maps, 1796-1850," p. 49.

17 Clara E. LeGear, The Hotchkiss Map Collection. A List of Manuscript Maps, Many of the Civil War Period, Prepared by Major Jed. Hotchkiss, and Other Manuscript and Annotated Maps in His Possession (Washington: Library of Congress, 1951).

18 William H. Goetzmann, Army Exploration in the American West (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1959), pp. 199, 341.

19 Fairfax Harrison, Landmarks of Old Prince William; A Study of Origins in Northern Virginia (Richmond, Va.: Old Dominion Press, 1924). 2 vols. Reprinted in one volume in 1964 by the Chesapeake Book Company, Berryville, Va., pp. 585-90.

20 The reports to these surveys have not been found. See: Louis H. Haney's A Congressional History of Railways, I (1908): 111, and Joseph Carrington Cabell, Notes Relative to the Route, Cost and Bearing of a Railway from Covington to the Head of Steamboat Navigation on the Kanawha River... (Addressed to Walter Gwynn, Chief Engineer, February 10th, 1851.)

21Report of the Engineers, on the Reconnoissance and surveys, made in reference to the Baltimore and Ohio Rail Road (Baltimore: Printed by W. Wooddy, 1828). William Howard, C.E., Stephen Harrison Long, Jonathan Knight, William Gibbs McNeill, Joshua Barney, Isaac R. Trimble were the surveyors. Lt. Joshua Barney's "Map of the Country Embracing the Various Routes Surveyed for the Balt. & Ohio Rail Road by Order of the Board of Engineers." (Baltimore, 1828?). Scale ca. 1:193,000. 27 x 61 cm., was prepared to accompany the report.

22 Slason Thompson, A Short History of American Railways (Chicago: Bureau of Railway News and Statistics, 1925), p. 154.

23 Louis H. Haney, A Congressional History of Railways, 2 vols. (Madison: University of Wisconsin, 1908 and 1910; reprint ed., New York: Augustus M. Kelley, 1968), 1:400.

24Memorial of Asa Whitney ... Praying a Grant of Land, to Enable Him to Construct a Railroad from Lake Michigan to the Pacific Ocean (28th Congress, 2d sess., Senate Doc. 69, Serial 451, Jan. 28, 1845).

25 Carl I. Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West 5 vols. (San Franscisco: The Institute of Historical Cartography, 1957-63),2:187.

26 Stover, p. 53.

27 Gouverneur K. Warren, Memoir to Accompany the Map of the Territory of the United States from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean, Giving a Brief Account of Each of the Exploring Expeditions Since A.D. 1800, with a Detailed Description of the Method Adopted in Compiling the General Map (Washington, U.S. Congress, Senate, 1859), p. 78.

28Reports of Explorations and Surveys, to Ascertain the Most Practicable and Economical Route for a railroad from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean 1853-1856 (Washington, 1855-1859), published in a quarto set of 13 volumes and commonly known as the "Pacific Railroad Surveys," it contains narratives of the explorations and accompanying maps of the surveyed routes.

29 Warren, pp. 66-82.

30 Haney, 2:13.

31 "Truth in Railway Maps," Railroad Age 84, no. 15 (1928):879.

32 Rand McNally and Company, [Untitled booklet distributed to customers by the company, circa 1879].

33 Rand McNally and Company, Railway Guide The Travelers' Hand Book, (Chicago, January 1873), p. xvii, and "A Tradition is Born ... Rand McNally's First Maps," Ranally World (December 1962):8.

34Ranally World (February to June 1956), and Andrew McNally III, The World of Rand McNally (New York: Newcomer Society of North America, 1956).

35 Rand McNally and Company, [Untitled booklet distributed to customers by the company, circa 1879].

Courtesy Library of Congress.

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