Auction 159, Lot 146

First Edition Issued with Original Report

"[Untitled - Map of Proposed Routes of Western Railroads] [with report]", Throop, O. H.

Subject: United States, Railroads

Period: 1846 (published)


Color: Black & White

15.9 x 9.4 inches
40.4 x 23.9 cm

This important 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 and terminating at South Pass, Wyoming. The map portrays the United States prior to the acquisition of California and the Southwest, with a large Oregon Territory and a large Texas. The map, engraved by O.H. Throop, was issued for Asa Whitney's report to Congress issued in 1846 and 1848. The map is still attached to the original 10-page report from February 24, 1846, which represents one of the earliest proposals for a railroad to the Pacific. Whitney's proposal was to continue the railway from South Pass to Puget Sound on the Pacific Coast. On page 4 of his memorial, he explains: "From the 'South Pass' to the Pacific, your memorialist is informed that the route is feasible," indicating his ignorance of the West and one of the reasons his proposal was not adopted.

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. He believed there was considerable potential with trade with China, and that railroads to the Pacific Ocean would facilitate this commerce. Whitney's proposed route from Lake Michigan through South Pass to the Pacific was not accepted in part because of the growing sectionalism before the Civil War. However, the map and report are an important part of the railroad history of the United States.


Condition: B+

Condition grade is for the map, which has light offsetting and a mis-fold at bottom left. The report is moderately toned with a few small chips.

Estimate: $240 - $300

Sold for: $220

Closed on 9/14/2016