Mining Pocket Map of Inyo County With View of Mount Whitney
319. [MAP]. KEELER, J[ulius] M. Mining Map of Inyo County Scale 12 Miles to an Inch [key below title] Explanation of District Ores. F.G. Free gold ores… [text below key]. NOTE-where silver milling and smelting ores… [text below map proper] Addendum. Pro Bono Publico…. Items. To those Concerned in the Mines… [below lower border] This Mining Map may be obtained at the office of the Daily Report, and communications should be addressed: Inyo County Mining Map, 238 Montgomery Street, San Francisco, Cal. [lower right below neat line] Lith. Britton & Rey [text below neat line at upper right] Inyo County. This California County lies east of the Sierra… J.M. Keeler [view of Mt. Whitney at upper center] Sketched by Miss Mollie Stevens. Mt. Whitney, from Lone Pine. Great Earthquake of 1872 occurred at 2:20 A.M., March 26th… [left of Mt. Whitney view, illustration of pick & shovel with text below] 1883 Product of mines, gold and silver $19,500,000… [text at upper left] California. Comparative estimate of two great industries, mining and agricultural…. Estimate from 1848 to 1884…. Gold (twelve hundred millions)…. San Francisco, [1884?]. Uncolored lithograph map with relief shown by hachure and spot heights, on one sheet of bank note paper; border to border: 38.5 x 43.1 cm; overall sheet size: 40.4 x 45 cm, folded into original pale blue paper covers (11.5 x 20 cm) with gilt border and lettering within oval: District Mining and Descriptive Map of Inyo County California [inside cover with illustration of train and text] Our Carson and Colorado Narrow Gauge Railroad through Owens River Valley. Map and pocket folder both very fine.
First edition. Currey & Kruska 222 (illustrated p. 109): “Though brief, the description is notable for inclusion of a very early reference to the Sierra Golden Trout.” Norris 2375. Not in Cowan, Rocq, or any of Edwards’ bibliographies on Death Valley.
Inyo County, situated in California’s Eastern Sierra, is a land of extremes, including Mt. Whitney, the tallest mountain in the lower forty-eight states, and Death Valley, which at 282 feet below sea level is the lowest point in the western hemisphere. The development of mining in the county began during the California Gold Rush, when a party of ‘49ers took an ill-fated shortcut to Sacramento through Death Valley. While searching for water to survive, they found silver. Word of their discovery brought hopeful miners and entrepreneurs who combed the area in succeeding decades, leading to a wide range of booms and busts. Ex-‘49er Julius H. Keeler, the creator of this promotional map, relocated from New York to the Owens Lake area in 1872, where he superintended and invested in the Owens Lake Mill and Mining Company, which was backed by eastern capitalists. He erected a ten-stamp silver quartz mill and laid out the town of Keeler (named in his honor) in the vicinity of the famous silver mining district of Cerro Gordo. Keeler was ambitious, with ideas like the Carson and Colorado narrow gauge railroad (described in text on the map). Keeler’s town prospered with the success of the Cerro Gordo mines until silver prices plummeted in the late nineteenth century.
Keller’s precise promotional map of the county includes copious text and statistics. It is a model of geological cartography, setting out each district with notations which correspond to a key identifying minerals. Though issued well after the Gold Rush, this map and its accompanying text emphasize the ore that has been found in the county and the fact that gold mining is still a viable industry there. As is typical with many later publications seeking to promote places in California, the emphasis has shifted somewhat to recreation, natural resources, and other advantages to be found in Inyo County. The lovely little view of Mount Whitney is the work of Mollie Stevens, daughter of Colonel Sherman Vanderventer Stevens, who owned a sawmill which supplied the mines and smelters around Lake Owen. Stevens built his own steamboat to handle his thriving lumber business and named the vessel after his daughter.
In 1849, Julius M. Keeler purchased an old sailing ship with fellow students at Union College in New York and made a hazardous voyage around the Horn to San Francisco. He called it quits after two years in the mines, and moved to Oregon. There he worked in education until 1855, when he returned to California and became head of the public school in Napa. During the Civil War, he was a First Lieutenant in Colonel Colt’s regiment of Hartford, Connecticut. After the war, he worked as a commission merchant in New York City, with western connections. See: Society of California Pioneers, In Memoriam: Julius M. Keeler. San Francisco, March 27th, 1890. Keeler is listed in Haskins-Spinazze, Index to the Argonauts of California (p. 246).
For more on lithographers Britton & Rey, see Peters’ long article (California on Stone, pp. 62-89) in which he refers to Britton & Rey as “the Currier & Ives of the West.”
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