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October 26, 2007


135. [MAP]. UNITED STATES. ARMY. CORPS OF ENGINEERS. WHEELER, George M[ontague]. Map Showing Detailed Topography of the Country Traversed by the Reconnaissance Expedition through Southern & Southeastern Nevada in Charge of Lieut. Geo. M. Wheeler U.S. Engineers. Assisted by Lieut. D. W. Lockwood Corps of Engineers U.S.A. 1869. [scale] P. W. Hamel Chief Topographer and Draughtsman; [above neat line at top] Reconnaissance Maps. Department of California; [upper left below neat line] Military Map No. 1; [upper right] Remarks. This map presents not only the Topography of the area traversed by the Expedition in the fall of 1869 but also that from the notes and maps of the following authorities...; [below Remarks] Officially compiled and published at the Engineer Office, Head Quarters Department of California in 1869 and 70. By order of Brigadier General E. O. C. Ord. Commdg. Geo. M. Wheeler, Head Quarters Dept of Cal. Oct 26th 1870; [middle right] Note; [lower right below neat line] Photolith. by the N.Y. Lithg. Engrg. & Prtg. Co. 16 & 18 Park Place. New York, [1870?]. Lithograph map with original outline color, mounted on cartographical cloth (ca. 1916), neat line to neat line: 91.5 x 50.5 cm; map including text above neat line and imprint below: 93.5 x 50.5 cm. Top of map soiled and chipped (loss of most of the word “Department” above neat line and approximately 4 x 10 cm void into top center of map image), lower margin slightly soiled and worn, a bit of light water staining at far right (visible only on verso). Old pencil note at upper left blank margin: “5 Ap 16 mtd. Waldorf.41.” Very rare.

            First edition of “Wheeler’s first major cartographical production” (Wheat). Rumsey 2739: “1st Wheeler map, done before 100th Mer. Survey.” Schmeckebier, Catalogue and Index of Publications of the Hayden, King, Powell, and Wheeler Surveys, p. 65. Streeter Sale 2353: “Since Wheeler’s exploration was in part over country never before mapped, this, as far as I know, is the foundation map for southern Nevada.-TWS.” Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West #1218 (illustrated opposite p. 299). Not in Phillips, etc.

            Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West, Vol. 5, Part 2, pp. 337-338:

Having graduated from the Military Academy in 1866, [Wheeler] was assigned to the Corps of Engineers and sent out to California, where he worked at various engineer tasks. In September, 1868, he was made engineer on the staff of the commanding general of the Department of California. (He had meantime, on March 7, 1867, been promoted 1st Lieutenant; his captaincy came on March 30, 1879, near the end of his labors in the West.) Wheeler was thus a young man...when his career took a decisive direction. In the late spring of 1869 he was given orders, as he says, to make “a thorough reconnaissance of the country to the south and east of the White Pine Mines, extending, if practicable, to the head of navigation on the Colorado River, with a view to opening a wagon road thereto from the White Pine or Grant mining district, obtaining correct data for a military map of the country, and for the selection of the site or sites for such military post or posts, to cover the mining country south and east of White Pine from hostile Indians, as might be required. Explorations and examinations in reference to the physical geography of the country, its physical resources in wood, water, agricultural, and mining productions, were required, and notice was also to be taken of the character, habits, and number of Indian tribes, and their disposition toward miners and settlers...

Wheeler set out from Camp Halleck, Nevada, on June 27, 1869, to carry out these orders, and duly made report to General Ord on his operations.... His report, Wheeler says, was “printed at San Francisco in 1869 in a folio pamphlet, accompanied by a topographical map, separately issued, on a scale of 1 inch to 12 miles.” The report, with additions but without the map, was reprinted at Washington in 1875.... [The present map was] his first major cartographical production....

The Central Pacific Railroad line more or less bounds the map at the top, from the west end of Great Salt Lake to Battle Mountain. Little topography is detailed north of the Humboldt, as Wheeler had headed in the opposite direction. Southern Nevada, together with adjacent parts of Arizona and “Big Cañons of the Colorado,” is detailed in an enlightening way, with much of the detail cartographically new. Wheeler visited some eighteen mining districts, discovered that Preuss Lake was to be identified with Sevier Lake, and as he says in his report, found the Colorado to be navigable at all seasons as far as El Dorado Cañon, “above which point, until obstructions are removed, navigation is dangerous as far as it may ever be carried” (that is, to the foot of the Grand Canyon).

            The map locates camps, astronomical stations, good and bad wagon roads, trails, springs, settlements (including many Native American habitats), mining districts, county boundaries, and the dividing line of watershed between Humboldt and Colorado basins. Wheeler (1842-1905) and his party associated with the expedition documented on this map launched from Elko, Nevada, and explored 72,250 square miles in southern Nevada, Utah, Arizona, and to the California border west of present-day Las Vegas. The party’s route included the far western reaches of the Grand Canyon. This initial undertaking inaugurated Wheeler into a vast and complex series of surveys of the West known as the United States Geographical Surveys West of the One Hundredth Meridian. “Wheeler’s work with Ord included a difficult reconnaissance through southeastern Nevada and Utah, during which he made the first north-south crossing of the Great Basin since the days of the early mountainmen” (Frank N. Schubert, Vanguard of Expansion: Army Engineers in the Trans-Mississippi West 1819-1879, Washington: Office of the Chief of Engineers, n.d., p. 140). See also Robert W. Karrow, “George M. Wheeler and the Geographical Surveys West of the One Hundredth Meridian, 1869-1879” in Exploration and Mapping of the West: Selected Essays (Map and Geography Round Table of the American Library Association, Occasional Paper 1), Chicago: Speculum Orbis Press, 1986. ($1,500-3,000)

Sold. Hammer: $1,500.00; Price Realized: $1,762.50

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