A rare and wonderful panorama of the Trans Continental Railroad

A.M. Smith, General Passenger Agent of the Rock Island Railroad / Rand, McNally & Co., Map Engravers and Printers, TRANS CONTINENTAL ROUTE ILLUSTRATED CROSSING THE SWITZERLAND OF AMERICA / PANORAMIC MAP OF THE GREAT OVERLAND ROUTE FROM OCCIDENT TO ORIENT. EUROPE TO CHINA, JAPAN & AUSTRALIA. Chicago: A.M. Smith, 1876.
Lithographic strip map printed in three colors on 2 sheets joined and folding into 16 panels, in all 6”h x 56 7/8”w at neatline plus margins. Adverts and timetable printed on three panels of verso. Tipped into gray boards, printed front and back with title and pictorial vignettes.
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A delightful illustrated railroad strip map promoting the Chicago Rock Island Railroad and its connections with the Trans Continental Railroad and steamer routes to Europe and Asia.

This remarkable folding map, only six inches high but nearly five feet long, highlights the route of the Trans Continental Railroad from Chicago to California along the Chicago Rock Island, Union Pacific and Central Pacific Railroads. The extremities are compressed along the east-west axis, enabling the view to show connections from Chicago to the East Coast and thence by steamer to Europe as well as routes from San Francisco to Asia and Australia. The image is rendered as a panorama, with topography shown pictorially and dozens of tiny vignettes depicting natural wonders and other landmarks of interest to travelers. Other vignettes humorously contrast the ease and comfort of travel in 1876 with the hardships of just a quarter century earlier. One shows an Indian warrior, armed to the teeth and with drawn dagger, labeled “The Fellow that used to collect fare on the Overland Route in 1851.” Another, “Sleeping accommodations on Overland Route in 1850,” shows settlers sleeping on the ground beside their Conestoga wagon, rifles at the ready.

The panorama is surmounted by a long travelogue highlighting major points of interest on the route, along with fare information, a timetable and other information of use to would-be travelers. The verso bears ads for The Grand Pacific Hotel and the Commercial Hotel, both in Chicago.

This image is excessively rare, likely due to its fragile construction and format. I find six holdings in American institutions and am aware of only two other examples having appeared on the market in the past three decades, including one sold by this firm several years ago.

References
OCLC #21775740 and 84060099, giving examples at the American Antiquarian Society, California State Library, California-Berkeley, Denver Public, University of Michigan and Southern Methodist (June 2017). Not in Modelski, Railroad Maps of the United States: Phillips, Maps of America; or Rumsey.

Condition

Some minor wear to boards and panorama, and a tiny notation in pen to rear board, but better than very good.