"Map No. 2 From the Pimas Villages to Fort Fillmore from Explorations and Surveys Made Under the Direction of the Hon. Jefferson Davis, Secretary of War...", Parke, John G. (Lt.)
Period: 1854-55 (dated)
Publication: U.S. Pacific Railroad Surveys
Color: Black & White
38.5 x 23.8 inches
97.8 x 60.5 cm
During the 1850s, the U.S. government sponsored an extensive series of expeditions designed to gather information on the vast new territories that had been acquired in western North America. The discovery of gold in California further stimulated westward traffic and heightened the need for a faster and more convenient way to bring the far-flung parts of the country together. In 1853 Congress commissioned the Army's Topographic Bureau to conduct a series of surveys to find a suitable route for a transcontinental railroad. There were six major expeditions; five of them covered the area between the Great Plains and west coast, and the sixth explored the coastal states of California and Oregon. All of these expeditions were accompanied by naturalists and artists to document the landscape, flora and fauna along the route.
The reports, maps and lithographs were published in the 13 volume report "Explorations and Surveys to ascertain the most practicable and economical route for a Railroad from the Mississippi river to the Pacific Ocean."
This map shows the results of Lt. Parke’s survey of the southernmost proposed route. It represents the first survey of the area of the Gadsden Purchase, acquired by the United States in 1853, to facilitate a southern railway that skirted mountain ranges. Wheat states that the map also had "great meaning" when the Southern Pacific was built through the same area 30 years later. The map details the explorations and the proposed railroad route between the Pima Villages (near present-day Phoenix) and Ft. Fillmore just north of El Paso. It delineates watersheds, plus topography through fine hachure. It is filled with information including the naming of mountains and plains, shows location of gold placers, silver mines, water holes, springs, and forts. As a result of Parke’s surveys the first accurate maps of Arizona were executed and much of its geography became known. The map is encased in a fine binding folder of brown cloth with gold stamped, leather spine.
References: Wheat (TMW) #851.
There is light toning along the folds and several fold separations that have been closed with archival materials on verso. Modern binding is fine.