||History of Railroads and Maps – Part 2
This is the second of three articles.
Growth of Mapping
||Mapmaking and Printing
Technological advances in papermaking and printing which permitted
quick and inexpensive reproduction of maps greatly benefited railroad
cartography. Before the introduction of these new techniques early
in the nineteenth century, maps were laboriously engraved, in reverse,
usually on copper plates, and printed on hand presses. Although
the results were excellent, this slow and costly process could
not keep pace with the demand for railroad maps. The process of
lithography which was invented in 1798 by Alois Senefelder of Bavaria,
came to America 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.13
Even after lithographic printing in map production became common,
engraving was used for many years for the 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.
Technical advances were quickly adapted to map printing. The transfer
process eliminated most of the laborious procedure of drawing on
stone in reverse. It allowed an illustration or a newly drawn map,
using specially prepared paper and ink, to be transferred directly
to a stone or a zinc plate. The early use of "zincography" in
America, in 1849, is credited to P. S. Duval's Swiss shop foreman,
Frederick Bourquin. Zinc plates were adaptable to the rotary steam
power press, which was first installed by Duval in his Philadelphia
Another important printing process, cerography, or wax engraving,
was introduced in America by Sidney Edwards Morse, whose father,
Jedidiah Morse, published the first geography book in the United
States, Geography Made Easy, in 1784. 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 the means of 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 used after Rand
McNally introduced its "wax engraving process" in 1872.
From the 1870s through the first four decades of the twentieth
century, this method of printing, sometimes called "relief
line engraving," became very 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 1880s with the introduction of its Universal
Family Atlas of the World. Matthews-Northrop and Company
and Poole Brothers also used 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 prices.14
Color lithography to distinguish regions and administrative divisions
on maps was introduced as early as the 1850s. 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.
||The Growth of Mapping
Map of the territory of the United States
from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean.
Drawn by E. Freyhold (1858)
Source: The Library of Congress American MemoryThe wealth of data derived from the Pacific surveys stimulated
cartographic activities. The data used in compiling twenty-two
large individual maps published with the thirteen handsomely illustrated
volumes of the Pacific Railroad Survey,15 for
example, 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." With Warren's map
the work of the topographical engineers on the preliminary Pacific
surveys came to an end.16
The accelerating flow of new information, Warren recognized in
his Memoir to Accompany the Map, made it difficult to
keep such a map up to date. He said 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, drawn by Freyhold, was
engraved on stone by Julius Bien of New York. A copy of this map
is preserved in the Library of Congress President Millard Fillmore
Collection and bears his signature and the date December 19, 1863.
This map, like the first edition, lists forty-five major surveys
and mapping reports from the time of Lewis and Clark to the General
Land Office Surveys of the late 1850s.
The Civil War provided another stimulus for railroad mapping because
of the strategic importance of rail transportation to the armies.
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 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. Other railroads
followed the lead in promoting the establishment of resorts and national
created additional demand for maps to illustrate reports, promotional
literature, displays, and time-tables from the thousands of railroad
and promotional firms which sprang up in the nineteenth century.
The second half of the nineteenth 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.18 Usually
the companies received from the federal government, in twenty-
or fifty-mile strips, 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.
Map of Kansas and Nebraska (1865).
Source: The Library of Congress American
MemoryLand grant maps 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
of Congress collections also include some foreign-language maps
aimed at both the immigration already on the East Coast and the
prospective one in Europe.
Competition between speculators may have led to the idea of 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 placed evenly along the line
to give the illusion of proximity of towns along the lines. This
practice of manipulating scale, area, and paths of railroads became
common practice in advertising maps of the 1870s and early 1880s
and in railroad timetable maps.
Coming next in Part 3 – Map Publishing
Firms and Early Twentieth Century Map Publishing
Rail Railway," [With lithograph plate by Pendleton. Boston,
April 30, 1827] No. t.p.; date from end of article.
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14 David Woodward, The All-American
Map (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1977), pp.
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15 Reports 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,
1855-59). Published in a quarto set of thirteen volumes and
commonly known as the "Pacific Railroad Surveys," it
contains narratives of the explorations and accompanying maps
of the surveyed routes.
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16 Warren, Memoir,
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17 Alfred Runte, "Pragmatic
Alliance, Western Railroads and the National Parks," National
Parks 48 (April 1974):14.
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18 Haney, History of Railways,
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||Adapted from Andrew
M. Modelski, History
of Railroads and Maps (Washington: Library of Congress,
1984), pp. ix-xxi, which represented a revision of the "Introduction" to Railroad
Maps of the United States, compiled by Andrew M. Modelski
(Washington: Library of Congress, 1975), pp. 1-14.