An early and spectacular example of American pictorial mapping, Rambles through Our Country is a simple educational game requiring players to complete a “grand tour” of the United States.
The game is played on a board featuring a spectacular chromolithographic map of the United States. The map bears 200 numbered stations beginning with Hartford—where the game was published—and concluding with New York City, with at least three stops in each state and territory along the way. Players moved by spinning a “teetotum” and advancing their token the prescribed number of stops. At each stop, they were to read aloud a description of the corresponding locale from an accompanying booklet, not present here.
Each state and territory features tiny vignettes representing its major cities and characteristic natural scenery, landmarks, and economic and cultural activity… buffalo and wild horses in Texas, alligators in the Florida Everglades, native Americans roaming the Plains States, coal miners in Pennsylvania, and even a large and apparently polygamous family in Utah. The imagery is in places crudely stereotypical, perhaps most notably the coal-back cotton pickers dancing exuberantly in Alabama. In others it is poignant, though perhaps unintentionally so: At lower left a group of armed and befeathered native American warriors watches a train pass through what was once “their” land.
The map is current to the mid 1880s, predating the 1889 division of Dakota Territory into the states of North and South Dakota. Rambles Through Our Country was issued at least as late as 1890, with later versions of the map depicting North and South Dakota.
Hornsby, Picturing America, pp. 5, 7 (illus.) Rumsey #3886.