Catalog Archive
Auction 130, Lot 155

"[Map of Proposed Routes of Western Railroads]", Whitney, Asa

Subject: United States

Period: 1846 (dated)

Publication: Senate 161, 29th Cong., 1st Session

Color: Black & White

15.8 x 9.5 inches
40.1 x 24.1 cm
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This unusual, untitled map of the United States shows the existing (finished and unfinished) railroads in the eastern states with a proposed railroad shown beginning at Prairie du Chin and stretching toward the Pacific through South Pass. There is also an unusual railroad stretching from Memphis to Guaymas named Mill's Road that includes a connector line reaching to Matagorda. Robert Mills proposed linking the two coasts by rail as early as 1819 and was among the project's most ardent supporters. The map portrays the United States prior to the acquisition of California and the Southwest, with a large Oregon Territory and Texas in a large, early statehood configuration. The map, reduced and engraved by O.H. Throop, was issued for Whitney's report to the 29th Congress in 1846.

Asa Whitney was one of the first backers of an American Transcontinental Railway. It was as early as 1830 that Whitney first became enthralled with railroads and foresaw their future role in business and transport. Whitney's proposed route from Lake Michigan through South Pass to the Pacific was not accepted mainly because of the growing sectionalism before the Civil War. However, the map is an important part of the railroad history of the United States.

Complete with the original 10 page "Memorial of A. Whitney, Praying a grant of public land to enable him to construct a railroad from Lake Michigan to the Pacific Ocean. February 24, 1846." The report was addressed from Whitney to the "Senate and House of Representatives of the United States in Congress assembled." The map is rarely found with the accompanying report.

References: Wheat (TMW) #659; Modelski (US Railroads) #14.

Condition: A

The map has a little offsetting, mostly in the lower margin. Report is very good to fine with the map at back held on with a small section of paper.

Estimate: $200 - $300

Sold for: $150

Closed on 12/2/2009