Dorothy Sloan -- Books

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October 26, 2007

“Keeler’s railroad map is full of factual information, but it is also full of hope”-Wheat

42. COPLEY, Josiah. Kansas and the Country Beyond, on the Line of the Union Pacific Railway, Eastern Division, from the Missouri to the Pacific Ocean. Partly from Personal Observation, and Partly from Information Drawn from Authentic Sources. Written in a Series of Letters to the Pittsburgh Gazette...With a Map. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1867. 96 pp. (87-96 consist of ads), lithograph map with original color wash (Native American reservations prominently noted in tan wash): Map of the Routes of the Union Pacific Railroads with their Eastern Connections. Compiled from Authorized Explorations, Public Surveys, and Other Reliable Data from the Departments of the Government. by W. J. Keeler, Civil Engineer, November, 1867. Lith. by J. F. Gedney, Washington [at left, color-coded key to minerals], neat line to neat line: 37 x 96.5 cm. 8vo (20.5 x 15 cm), original tan printed wrappers, stitched. Upper wrap with chipping to blank margins (old filmoplast reinforcements on wrap and spine). Map fine save for one minor spot at lower right and creasing where folded into the pamphlet. Contemporary pencil ownership signature on upper wrapper. Preserved in cloth chemise and black morocco and marbled boards slipcase. No copy of the pamphlet or map have been offered at auction for over thirty years. Although there seemed to be a little remainder from 1936 to 1966, thereafter offerings in the trade have been almost nonexistent.

            First edition. Adams, Herd 581. Bradford 1068. Eberstadt 133:401: “An interesting report on the western country; routes; the Platte and the Sierra Nevada; New Mexico, Arizona, and California.” Howes C767. Modelski, Railroad Maps of the United States 591: “Strip map of the western United States from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean showing relief by hachures, drainage, minerals, cities and towns, forts. Includes completed and proposed railroads.” Rader 926. Sabin 16696.

            Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West #117 & Vol. V, Part I, pp. 209-213 (discussing the present map & Keeler’s National Map of the same year; illustrating present map between pp. 204-205):

Another maker of maps who, like the Coltons, presents us with problems in turning from the general to the particular is William J. Keeler. In 1867 Keeler drafted a notable map of the entire West [National Map], and also reduced a portion of this map for another purpose. Let us look at the latter map first [i.e., the map we offer here]. In the spring of 1867 the President of the Kansas Pacific, not unfamiliar with the uses of ‘public relations,’ invited ‘a large party of ladies and gentlemen, including many members of Congress,’ to make an excursion on his line, from Philadelphia to Fort Harker in Kansas, 225 miles west of the Missouri River. A member of that junket was Josiah Copley, who wrote a series of dispatches to the Pittsburgh Gazette reprinted at Philadelphia later in 1867 as Kansas and the Country Beyond.... Copley’s book is informative and entertaining; more to our present purpose, it was illustrated with a map of which the book says: ‘This is probably the most accurate and reliable Railroad Map that has ever been offered to the public. It is a facsimile of the official map prepared from the most recent surveys and explorations under the authority of the Government at Washington, and was drawn and engraved by W. J. Keeler, Esq., of the Indian bureau, expressly for this work. The lines of both the great Pacific Railroads are laid down as nearly as possible as they are to be, and with equal fairness and fidelity. It was not deemed to be either honest or politic to insult the intelligence of the country by stretching a favorite line, like a ribbon, across the continent, and then attempting to ignore, as far as possible, all other roads that are not subsidiary to it. All that is essential to a full and fair understanding of the great question of routes from the Missouri to the Pacific is given.’

This “Map of the Routes of the Union Pacific Railroads...November, 1867,” was lithographed at Washington by J. F. Gedney. Since it materially simplifies the larger map, it is not actually a “fac-simile” of that map, regardless of what is said above. That, however, is no real weakness, for the map does well what it sets out to do-give the public a general idea of the railroads then so much in the news. Keeler’s map extends from Cincinnati to the Pacific, and from about the 32nd to the 43rd parallel-or from Ft. Reno (in Wyoming) to Ft. Filmore in New Mexico. It has a superior showing of new military data, being in advance even of the Colton maps.... It also displays, with colored symbols, deposits of gold, silver, coal, copper, and quicksilver from eastern Colorado to California-information derived from the General Land Office maps, economically pertinent to railroad operations. But primarily it is interesting for railroad routes west of the Missouri.... Keeler’s railroad map is full of factual information, but it is also full of hope.

The present map, as Wheat notes, is not the same as Keeler’s National Map, but rather an amplification with focus on the railroads. For more on the National map, see: Graff 2281. Howes K22. Martin & Martin 47. Phillips, America, p. 916. Streeter Sale 3077. While it is quite easy to find copies of the National Map on the market, the present map is considerably more difficult to acquire. There are several incarnations of Keeler’s map, and they deserve a thorough cartobibliographical analysis.

            The text is a fairly straightforward account of the areas through which the author passed, with most of the emphasis on Kansas and the prospects to be found there. In many ways, Copley pulls no punches, describing Wyandote, for example, as “neither ample nor pretty, and the aspect of the place exhibits neither taste nor thrift on the part of the people.” Although admitting that Topeka is “pretty” and that it does have some beautiful homes and hotels, he concludes in general, “the city is somewhat straggling, and the streets in bad condition.” On the other hand, his praise of Manhattan is unbounded. He does warn anyone thinking of emigrating to Kansas to take at least some of a disassembled house and to plant as many trees as possible upon arrival (p. 56). His descriptions of New Mexico, Arizona, and California are considerably shorter, although he does remark that all of these places have abundant opportunities in various endeavors, especially mining. The ads at the end are almost all for railroad lines. ($2,500-5,000)

Sold. Hammer: $2,500.00; Price Realized: $2,937.50

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