1870 map of California and Nevada by pioneering surveyor Leander Ransom

Leander Ransom, A NEW MAP OF THE States OF CALIFORNIA AND NEVADA Exhibiting the RIVERS, LAKES BAYS and ISLANDS, with the principal TOWNS, ROADS, RAILRAODS and TRANSIT ROUTES to the SILVER MINING DISTRICTS of NEVADA TERRITORY. Also MERIDIAN, STANDARD, RANGE and TOWNSHIP LINES as established; to which is added the County Boundaries and UNITED STATES LAND DISTRICTS. CAREFULLY COMPILED FROM United States and other Reliable Surveys by LEANDER RANSOM. San Francisco: Warren Holt, 1870.
Lithograph, 26”h x 20 3/8”w at neat line plus margins, original wash and outline color. Folded and tipped into red cloth pocket folder with blind-stamped ornament on boards and Holt’s Map of California and Nevada printed on front board. Some splits at fold intersections, 1 ½” vertical tear and a small adjacent chip at lower-right edge, and a couple of tears with small loss near point of binding. Good or better.

Scarce and significant 1870 pocket map of California and Nevada, compiled by Leander Ransom and published in San Francisco by Warren Holt. Described by Wheat as “a Nevada map of first importance” and Streeter as “a first rate map of California as it was in 1863 and… especially good for the mining districts in Nevada and southern California”.

This detailed map depicts California and Nevada in their entirety, along with slivers of adjacent Baja, Arizona, Idaho Territory and Oregon. California and Nevada are colored in pastel wash by county. The region’s complex topography is indicated by hachuring, and roads, trails and rail lines are identified throughout, including the route of the Central Pacific, construction of which began in 1863. There is a wealth of information about towns, settlements, ranches, and mineral resources, and dozens of mining districts are delineated and named. Superimposed on California—only faintly, reflection degradation of the lithographic stone over many editions—is the familiar grid of 6 mile-square townships established by surveyors of the General Land Office.

The map was first published in 1862 under the title New Map of the State of California, just a year after Nevada had been carved out of Utah and given territorial status. That first edition provided excellent (though apparently not ground-breaking) detail for California; a first-rate treatment of central Nevada but minimal detail elsewhere in the new territory; and set its eastern boundary with Utah at the 116th meridian, and its southern boundary at the 37th parallel (thus leaving the Potosi mining district in New Mexico). It’s worth noting that Wheat treats this first edition as a separate map see his #1070), though close examination reveals that subsequent editions, including ours, are clearly from the same stone.

Subsequent editions of 1863, 1866, 1867 and 1868 bore a new title, A New Map of the States of California and Nevada; added the name of A.J. Doolittle as a contributor (in smaller type); gradually introduced new counties and much other detail (such as the planned route of the Central Pacific RR) in Nevada; pushed its eastern boundary to the 115th and then the 114th meridian; and its southern boundary to the Colorado River; and added tables of distances set in the Pacific Ocean. Our edition of 1870 has been minimally updated from that of 1868; indeed the only alterations I note are the change of date and the deletion of the credit to Doolittle.

Leander Ransom and Warren Holt
Born in Connecticut in 1800, Leander Ransom was raised and educated in New York. He moved to Ohio in 1825, where he worked on the Ohio Canal and in 1836 was appointed President of the Ohio Board of Public Works. In 1851, leaving his family in Ohio for the time being, Ransom moved to California to serve as Deputy Surveyor General for California. In this capacity he surveyed the Mount Diablo Principal Meridian, visible on this map running from Monterey Bay to just west of Klamath Lake, which controlled Public Land Surveys for most of the state. Thereafter he worked as Chief Clerk in the Surveyor Generals’ Office in San Francisco into the 1860s. I often see him described as “Colonel Ransom”, but have not yet tracked down the nature of his military service. He died in an accident in 1874.

Warren Holt originally arrived in San Francisco as an agent for New York-based map publisher J.H. Colton. Soon enough he set off on his own, and he was active as a map publisher and mapseller in San Francisco from 1862 into the 1880s. Ransom’s 1862 New Map of California was likely his first publication, and he went on to publish numerous maps of Western subjects, including for example Henry De Groot’s seminal Groot’s Map of Nevada Territory (1863).

Rumsey #4393 (1863 ed.) and 4077 (1868 ed.) Streeter, vol. V #2880 (1863 ed.) Wheat, Trans-Mississippi West, #1071 (vol. V part 1, pp. 76-77), discussing the 1863 ed. OCLC 21697790 records examples of our 1870 edition at Yale and UC-Berkeley.