Reports of Explorations and Surveys

PACIFIC RAILROAD

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Item#: 127057 price:$16,000.00

Reports of Explorations and Surveys
Reports of Explorations and Surveys
Reports of Explorations and Surveys
Reports of Explorations and Surveys
Reports of Explorations and Surveys
Reports of Explorations and Surveys
Reports of Explorations and Surveys

THE GREAT PACIFIC RAILROAD SURVEYS, “A MONUMENTAL COLLECTION OF SCIENTIFIC INFORMATION” INCLUDING “THE FIRST ACCURATE DETAILED MAP OF THE WHOLE TRANS-MISSISSIPPI WEST… ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT MAPS OF AMERICAN HISTORY”

(PACIFIC RAILROAD SURVEY) Reports of Explorations and Surveys, to Ascertain the Most Practicable and Economical Route for a Railroad from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean. Made under the Direction of the Secretary of War, in 1853-54, According to Acts of Congress … Washington: Beverley Tucker, 1855-60. Twelve volumes. Quarto, modern three-quarter black morocco gilt, raised bands. $16,000.

First quarto edition, mixed issue, greatly expanded. The most extensive government exploration of the American continent, with almost six hundred maps (many folding) and splendid plates (colored, tinted and black and white) depicting views, ruins, Native Americans, zoological and botanical specimens, etc.

"The expeditions of the Great Pacific Railroad Surveys… conducted a great renaissance of the West. The survey reports filled 13 massive volumes, including an entire volume of maps, panoramas and pictures. Among these was the first accurate detailed map of the whole trans-Mississippi West, a great scientific achievement by 27-year-old Lieutenant G.K. Warren. One of the most important maps of American history [Volume XI, bound after the plates in this copy], it was a careful composite of the numerous expedition route maps and field notes, as well as previous works by Emory and Preuss… Perhaps the most spectacular results of the Railroad Surveys were the hundreds of drawings, paintings, lithographs, engravings and fold-out panoramas produced by the field artists. Highly romantic in manner, they offered the first comprehensive picture of the West… Extraordinary scientific drawings by geologists, botanists, zoologists and amateur ethnologists portrayed the thousands of specimens they brought back with them. Their work is also part of the achievement of the Great Pacific Railroad Surveys" (Goetzmann and Williams, Atlas of North American Exploration, 168-9). Early in the administration of Franklin Pierce, $150,000 was allocated for a government study to determine "the most economical and practicable" transcontinental railroad route to the Pacific coast. "Accordingly, the Secretary of War, Jefferson Davis, designated four routes of exploration and survey. The first route, heretofore unexplored except portions that had been traversed by Lewis and Clark fifty years before, lay between the 47th and 49th parallels, extending along the Missouri River, over the northern Rockies… The second route, backed by Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri, was to follow the Kansas River west from its junction with the Missouri to the headwaters of the Arkansas River, through Cochetopa Pass to the Salt Lake basin, between the 37th and 39th parallels. The third route, along the 35th parallel, was to begin at Fort Smith, Arkansas, proceeding west to Albuquerque, through central New Mexico and Arizona to the Colorado River, and across the Mojave desert to California. The fourth route, possibly already fixed in the minds of the Secretary and in the office of the Topographical Engineers as 'the most practicable and economical,' was along the 32nd parallel from central Texas to El Paso, following William H. Emory's 'military reconnaissance' of 1846-47 to the Gila River, Fort Yuma, and San Diego… In addition, exploration was ordered on the Pacific Coast, to locate routes between San Francisco and the Pacific Northwest, and to connect the southern transcontinental routes to the ports of San Diego and San Francisco…. [T]hese volumes contain a monumental collection of scientific information, geographical, zoological, botanical, geological, of the still mysterious American West" (WagnerCamp, 46162). Preceded by the scarce 1855 three-volume octavo edition, which was then expanded with illustrations and many textual additions to make this magnificent quarto set. Volumes II, IX, X and XI are from the House of Representatives issue; all other volumes are from the Senate issue. Wagner-Camp: 262267:3. Howes P3. Sabin 69946.

Scattered foxing and marginal dampstaining, occasionally affecting plates and maps; the notoriously fragile folding maps with occasional closed tears, a few repairs. An extraordinary production.

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