This remarkable folding map, only six inches high but nearly five feet long, highlights the route of the Transcontinental 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 man-made landmarks such as the bridge over the Missouri at Council Bluffs and the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City. 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 asleep 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 rare, likely due to its fragile construction and format. I find seven holdings in American institutions and am aware of only three other examples having appeared on the market in the past three decades, including two sold by this firm in the past decade.
OCLC #21775740 and 84060099, giving examples at the American Antiquarian Society, California State Library, California-Berkeley, Denver Public, Newberry Library, University of Michigan and Southern Methodist (May 2020). Not in Modelski, Railroad Maps of the United States; Phillips, Maps of America; or Rumsey.
Some minor wear to boards and panorama, and a tiny notation in pen to rear board, but better than very good.