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October 26, 2007

Mystery Map of Grand Canyon Area

136. [MAP]. UNITED STATES. ARMY. CORPS OF ENGINEERS. WILLCOX, Orlando Bolivar, Frederick A. Smith & Paul Riecker. [Above top neat line]: By Authority of Brevet Major General O. B. Willcox, Commanding Department of Arizona | Parts of North Western Arizona, Atlas Sheet No. 1. [in image at lower right] Paul Riecker, Top. Assist. Dept. Arizona. [below lower neat line at center] Scale: 1 inch to 6 Miles... Authorities Lieut. Ives, Lieut. Wheeler, Lieut. Bergland, Corps of Engineer’s, [sic] and Explorations of Colorado River under Lt. T. A. Touey 6th. Cav. by Paul Riecker, Top. Asst. [below neat line at right] Lieut. Fred. A. Smith, Reg’t. Adjt., 12th Infantry., A. Eng. Officer, Dep’t. Arizona. N.p., n.d. Lithograph map on thin, somewhat translucent paper (no watermark), uncolored, neat line to neat line: 46 x 51 cm; map including text above and below neat line: 49.6 x 52 cm; overall sheet size: 55.4 60.7 cm. Fine.

     Later undated printing of a map, the original of which we have been unable to identify, perhaps early twentieth century. Copy located at the Library of Congress. The National Archives holds an 1879 map of Arizona Territory that appears to be related to the same survey work as on the present map: “Map of Arizona Territory Prepared by Authority of Bvt. Major General O. B. Willcox...Under the Direction of lst Lieut. Fred. A. Smith...Engineer Officer, D. A., 1879...Compiled and Drawn by Paul Riecker. 1 inch to 18 miles. 28 x 23. Published. Settlements, military posts, roads, railroad lines, mining districts, Indian reservations, and physical features. Filed as RG 393: Department of Arizona, 1” <See:>. The map, which shows the area around Grand Canyon, is not in Spamer et al (comps.), Bibliography of the Grand Canyon and the Lower Colorado River 1540-1980, but on p. 79 is the following entry: “U.S. Army Engineer Department, no date [Topographic atlas sheet prepared for an unrealized atlas of the western United States. U.S. Geogr. Survey West of the 100th Meridian]....”

     This map delineates the far northwest corner of Arizona. In considerable detail and on large scale it shows prominent geological features, waterways, roads, mines, trails, Native American settlements, etc. The Atlantic and Pacific Railroad just cuts the lower right corner of the map. Also shown in that area is Paul Riecker’s 1878 exploratory route and the 1858 expedition of Lieutenant Ives. This map is far more detailed than the more general maps of the area, such as the 1879 map of Arizona Territory prepared by Willcox and Smith, and also drawn by Riecker. The original would date sometime between early 1878 and September 1882, the time when Willcox was commander of the Department of Arizona.

     Although the map was supposedly part of an atlas, we have been unable to identify it. This map was apparently not part of the Powell or Wheeler Survey materials, as listed in Schmeckebier Catalogue and Index of the Publications of the Hayden, King, Powell, and Western Surveys (Washington: GPO, 1904), nor is the map found in Rumsey. The cartographers, however, were clearly aware of the Powell survey, since “Disaster Rapids,” where Powell lost a boat in June of 1869, is named on the map.

     The original of this map dates from a time when the surveys of the West were the subject of much public controversy, with even Powell and Wheeler bitterly accusing each other of various faults. Further spectacle was created when neither the Hayden nor Wheeler surveys would yield ground and insisted on mapping exactly the same territory in Southern Colorado in 1873. Somewhat disgusted, Congress in 1874 investigated and in 1879 consolidated the Western survey work, delegating it to civilian entities in the Department of the Interior, phasing out Army Topographical Engineer participation. William H. Goetzmann writes brilliantly of this shift away from the Army Corps of Topographical Engineers, referring to the 1874 festering feud for preeminence in the Western surveys as a “scientific Armageddon” (p. 379 & XVI “Epilogue: Beyond the Explorer’s Frontier” in Exploration and Empire: The Explorer and the Scientist in the Winning of the American West (New York: Random House, 1966).

     Orlando Bolivar Willcox (1823-1907), after graduating from West Point, took part in the Mexican-American War and the last Seminole War but resigned his commission a few years later to practice law. After re-enlisting to serve in the Civil War, in which he earned a medal of honor, he served, among other posts, as commander of Arizona Territory, where he was sent to pacify the Apache. After forty years of service, he retired from the military in 1887. The town of Willcox, Arizona, was named in his honor; colorful legend claims he was aboard the first Southern Pacific train to reach Maley, Arizona, in 1880, whereupon the town decided to rename itself in his honor.  Willcox is buried in Arlington Cemetery.

     Besides his participation in the 1879 Arizona Territory map in the National Archives listed above, Topographer Paul Riecker was co-creator with E. A. Eckhoff of Official Map of the Territory of Arizona Compiled from Surveys, Reconnaissances and Other Sources..., New York: The Graphic Company, [1880] (Graff 1204, Rumsey 2980, Streeter Sale 526). ($250-500)

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