An incredibly ambitious atlas of the upper Ohio River Valley, interspersed with dozens of engaging lithographic views of the region’s human and natural landscape.
The maps includes a key sheet, a 26-part strip map covering 457 miles of the Ohio River Valley, and dozens of city and town plans including very large folding plans of Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. These are complemented by beautifully-drawn lithographic views of residences and farms; schools, seminaries and colleges; railroads and riverboats; and factories, hotels, and other businesses, many set against the lovely backdrop of the Ohio Valley landscape.
Rumsey describes the Atlas as “perhaps the most extraordinary “county atlas” produced in the 19th century. Although it is a regional atlas in scope, covering both sides of the Ohio River from Pittsburgh to Cincinnati, in format it is [a] county atlas with views, maps, and advertising directories of the local towns, cities, residences, and businesses along the river. There are 26 double page maps of the Ohio River, plus an index sheet, that are beautifully drawn and colored, as well as numerous maps of towns and cities on the river. The views frequently show the river and river boat traffic, the inside and outside of factories (an inside view of a glass blowing factory is amazing), and farms and residences. There are large fold out maps of Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. When taken all together, the effect is stunning. This atlas has become rare, with few copies surviving the “breaker’s” temptation to cut it up. Rieger rates it “of extraordinary importance” and “extremely scarce.””
A review in the Wheeling [West Virginia] Daily Intelligencer sheds light on the production of the atlas, which involved adding large-scale local survey data to existing base maps obtained from the Federal Government, and on the subscription model by which it was marketed.
“There has just been laid upon our table… an illustrated atlas of the Upper Ohio river and valley from Pittsburgh to Cincinnati. The work of getting up this atlas was commenced some two years ago; at the same time a canvas of the river towns for subscribers to the work was also made, but doubtless many who subscribed for the work have forgotten all about it. Those who are subscribers to the book, however, will find that in making haste slowly the publishers have presented to their patrons a work embracing the entire valley of the Ohio for a mile and a half on each side of the river. There is no guess work in the location of towns, cities and villages.
“The distances are all laid down from United States official and special surveys, and the utmost care having been taken the notation of distances may be regarded as absolutely correct. The other surveys locating the towns and all points of interest were made by patient, pains taking and thoroughly practical engineers, and every line and point has been laid down with great precision.” (Wheeling Daily Intelligencer (Wheeling, West Virginia), Apr. 13, 1877, p. 4)
The atlas is widely held in institutional collections but rare on the market. RareBookHub lists only an example sold at Cowan’s for $2100 in 1997. Antique Map Price Record lists but a single copy, an example in “near-fine” condition offered by Primitive Pieces in 2005 for $7000. Fred Baron of High Ridge Books tells me he has handled two copies, though none in the past ten years.
Howes, U.S.-Iana, H-345. LeGear, United States Atlases, L3876. OCLC 35088514 et al, giving numerous institutional holdings. Phillips, Atlases, 2348 and 2442. Phillips, Maps of America, p. 636. Rieger, The Upper Ohio Valley: A Bibliography and Price Guide, 46. Ristow, Checklist of Printed Maps of the Middle West, 1-1260. Rumsey 4975. Thomson, Bibliography of the State of Ohio, p. 161. A digitized copy of the atlas may be viewed here.