Catalog Archive
Auction 185, Lot 211

Map of the Proposed James River and Kanawha Canal

"Map & Profiles of the James River & Kanawha Canal and its Connections",

Subject: Mid-Atlantic United States, James River

Period: 1857 (published)


Color: Hand Color

58 x 24.5 inches
147.3 x 62.2 cm
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This superb map was created to re-invogorate interest in the James River and Kanawha Canal as a means of transport from the Chesapeake Bay to the Ohio River. The canal project was first spearheaded in 1785 by George Washington, who believed that developing a transportation route to the Ohio River was key to Virginia's economic success. Work on the canal was started and stopped multiple times due to a shortage of financial resources and flood damage. By 1850, the canal was half-way complete, however the expansion of the railroad network in the region made continuation of the canal project even less viable. This map was published in 1857 to encourage further investment in the canal, but was ultimately unsuccessful and the canal project was finally abandoned in 1877. The map follows the James, Greenbrier, New and Kanawha Rivers from the Chesapeake Bay to the Ohio River. The map is filled with information, including railroads criss-crossing the region, county boundaries, courthouses, rivers, and topography. Only key cities along the railroads are identified.

Although the map extends west past Cincinnati to the Indiana border, the primary focus is on the rivers between Richmond, Virginia and the Ohio River. This stretch is marked in blue on the map and is further illustrated below the map with a profile view of the rivers measuring the change in elevation. The profile view is divided into two sections, with the upper section beginning at the Ohio River at left and ending at the source of the Greenbrier River in the Alleghany Mountains. The bottom section shows the James River from its source in the Alleghany Mountains to Richmond. The profile view is drawn on a horizontal scale of 5 miles per inch and a vertical scale of 200 feet per inch.

The map was created by Eduard Lorraine, Consulting Engineer. Engraved by Charles Ludwig and lighographed by Ritchie & Dunnavant in Richmond. Printed on two sheets, joined as issued.


Condition: B

Contemporary hand color, issued folding and now flattened and professionally backed in thin, archival tissue to repair some fold separations and a few small holes at fold intersections. There is light dampstaining and a 0.5x1.25" hole at left that has been archivally repaired with minor loss of image. Professionally framed by Black Dog Gallery in Yorktown, VA but can be unframed for shipping if requested.

Estimate: $2,400 - $3,000


Closed on 11/17/2021