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Map from Secret Report of the Northern Pacific Railroad

Explorations in Washington & Montana Territory

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277.     [MAP]. CANFIELD, Thomas H[awley]. Map of the Country West of Dakota to the Pacific Ocean From the Latest Explorations and Surveys to Accompany the Report of Thoms. H. Canfield Director. Northern Pacific R.R…. May, 1870. [inset map upper left] Map of San Juan or Haro Archipelago… [table upper center] Table of Distances… [inset map upper right] Our Northwest Territories… [table upper right below inset map] Navigable Water Line and Shore Line of the Basin of the Winnipeg… [text upper right below inset map at border] Compiled Printed and Published by G.W. & C.B. Colton & Co. No. 172 William St. New York. New York: Privately printed, 1870. Lithograph map of Washington, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, and Oregon with original blue and tan coloring of routes, neat line to neat line: 51.2 x 61.4 cm. Creased where formerly folded, else fine. Matted, wooden frame with gilt liner, glazed. Privately printed in a small press run and very rare.

     First edition. This map was published in Thomas H. Canfield’s rare, privately issued report to the directors of the Northern Pacific Railroad: Northern Pacific Railroad. Partial Report to the Board of Directors…Summer of 1869…For Private Circulation Only May, 1870 (New York, 1870). See: Graff 572. Howes C114. Railway Economics, p. 243. Smith 1473. The map is not listed in Modelski or other standard cartographical sources.

     On the confidentiality of the report in which this map was published, Canfield remarks: “Facts, which ought not in the present state of the Company’s affairs to go to the public, but which at the same time should be known to the Directors, before they take action in respect to commencing operations upon the Western portion of the line.” The reason for strict confidentiality was to thwart land speculators. The short printing run resulted in the rarity of the report and this map.

     The map shows the Northwest Territories on the Pacific coast from Banks Island (north of Vancouver Island) to Coose Bay, and inland as far south as Salt Lake City. To the east, the map depicts the area south of the Moose Mountains (present Idaho) down to Chimney Rock (Nebraska) and Larimer. Located are prominent geological features (river systems, mountain ranges, etc.), explorers’ routes, forts (marked with flags), cities and towns, and tribal lands (Assiniboine, Mandan, Shoshone, Snake, and many others). The original Northern Pacific Railroad route is outlined in blue, and Canfield’s route of exploration and suggested route is in tan. Canfield recommended the southerly route going west to Yellowstone, rather than the original government plan to go north of the Missouri River. Canfield’s recommendation was accepted as shown in tan on the map.

     Canfield (1822-1897), a Vermont business man prominent in U.S. history for the development of railroads, water transportation, canals, and telegraphs, undertook exploration for a railroad in the northwest in the 1860s. The Northern Pacific line was chartered in 1864, but had problems obtaining financing, government support, and other issues as well, such as the 1867 Treaty between regional tribes and the U.S., in which Anglos were strictly forbidden ever to set foot in tribal lands west of the Red River. Canfield shouldered not only the exploration but also the financing, bringing together a group of twelve men who were committed to improving transportation in the U.S. By 1867 the twelve men signed an agreement (“Original Interests Agreement”) for developing the line, and in 1869 they were able to issue bonds. In 1870 ground was finally broken for the line, which was the first northern transcontinental railroad to connect the Great Lakes with Puget Sound, a milestone in the history of transportation in the U.S. This was due in large part to Canfield’s efforts, exploration, report, and maps.


Sold. Hammer: $400.00; Price Realized: $480.00

Auction 22 Abstracts

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