Auction 159, Lot 762

"Report upon United States Geographical Surveys West of the One Hundredth Meridian, in Charge of Capt. Geo. M. Wheeler...", Wheeler, George (Lt)

Subject: Exploration & Surveys

Period: 1889 (published)


Color: Printed Color

9.3 x 11.9 inches
23.6 x 30.2 cm

The 1870s was a period of intense effort, by such prominent people as Clarence King, Ferdinand Hayden, and John Wesley Powell, to advance the geographical knowledge of the West. These various surveys presented a threat to the Army's supremacy in the field of mapping and to the related appropriations from Congress. As a result of these pressures, the Army Corp of Engineers developed a plan to systematically survey the entire West to be called the U.S. Geographical Surveys West of the One Hundredth Meridian. The region was divided up into 95 rectangles, with atlas sheets to be prepared for each, comprising an area 2°45' of longitude and 1°40' of latitude on a scale of eight miles to the inch. Lieutenant George Wheeler was chosen to head this immense project. Surveys were conducted each summer from 1872 to 1878, after which Congress cut off appropriations for field work; thus the survey was not completed as originally envisioned. Wheeler published annual reports from 1873 to 1884, as well as the final Geographical Report published in 1889. The maps from this report are a valuable document of the record of Western exploration.

This is the complete Volume I (Geographical Report) of Wheeler's Survey West of the 100th Meridian dated 1889. While the work was completed between 1871-79, the report was not released until nearly a decade later. Its primary purpose was to survey the region for possible wagon roads and document the natural resources in the region. It features the following 3 folding maps:

Map Showing Routes of the River and Land Parties Engaged in Exploring the Grand Canon of the Colorado, dated 1871 (16.3 x 15"). This is the map of Wheeler's epic journey in 1871 up the Colorado River from Camp Mohave (near Needles, California) to Diamond Creek. First published in 1878, it shows the course of the Colorado River from the California line to about midway up the Grand Canyon. Disaster, Portage, Castaway, Cascade, Winding, Roaring, and Long Rapids, Vernal Falls, the 1871 Rendezvous, and more are located. The routes of several prior expeditions are noted including those of Whipple, Sitgreaves, Ives, and Wheeler in 1869. A table lists the dates and camps of the river party, each keyed to the map. Detailed geographic information makes this a valuable record of western exploration. This is a single tint lithographed map printed by the Graphic Co. Photo-Lith. 39 & 41 Park Place, N.Y. The map was prepared by Weyss, Thompson & Lang.

Sketch Indicating the Advancement of the Surveys of the Public Lands and the Military Topographical and Geological Surveys West of the Mississippi, dated 1879 (44.3 x 32.5"). Beautifully lithographed in four colors with impressive detail throughout. The map locates more than 130 forts and camps (many flying tiny American flags), nearly 70 Indian reservations, the routes of dozens of early explorers, completed and projected railroads with their land grants, and dozens of Spanish land grants noted. Survey details plotted include base lines, meridians and townships. Wheeler's surveying efforts are shown as shaded regions. Map consists of four joined sheets.

Sketch Indicating a Distribution of the Territorial Domain of the United States into Districts Favorable to the Operations of Parties Prosecuting General Government Surveys…, dated 1879 (28 x 20"). This map is an effort by Wheeler to set out a systematic plan for the scientific mapping and survey of the country. It shows Wheeler's comprehensive plan, proposed in the report, for surveying the entire U.S. in eight districts in 210 rectangular grids, applying the same scientific standard throughout. In fact, this is the same method Wheeler used in his earlier western surveys. The underlying map has excellent topographic and political detail. A surprisingly handsome and important map in the history of the surveying of the United States.

In addition to the large folding maps are 38 plates (several double-page, a few in color) including many attractive views, depictions of natives, and historical maps of North America by the likes of Ortelius, Hondius, Senex and Jeffrys. 780 pp. Hardbound in maroon cloth covered boards with gilt title on spine.

References: Wheat [TMW] #1292; Cohen pp. 192-194.

Condition: A

The condition code is for the maps and plates which are clean, bright, and near fine. The map of the Grand Canyon is loose with a jagged left edge, but far from the map image. A few plates have separated from the text block which is loose. The text has pleasant light toning. The front hinge is starting and the covers have typical shelf wear.

Estimate: $450 - $550

Sold for: $425

Closed on 9/14/2016