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2007 Catalog > 31. Parke, Map From San Francisco Bay to the Plains of Los Angeles.

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31. John G. Parke. “Map No. 1: From San Francisco Bay to the Plains of Los Angeles [Explorations and Surveys for a Rail Road Route from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean. War Department. Coast Route, California] (Washington, D.C.: Selmar Siebert’s Engraving & Printing, 1855). Published in Pacific Railroad Reports, vol. XI (Sen. Ex. Doc. No. 78, 33rd Cong., 2nd sess.). Lithographed folding map in black and white, as issued. 28 1/4 x 34 3/4" at neat line. Sheet: 30 1/2 x 36 1/2". Minor darkening at old folds; trimmed to neat line at binding edge; small loss in corner fold above title, not affecting map. Excellent.

Price: SOLD

Besides the four main east-west routes reconnoitered for the transcontinental railroad, two supplemental surveys were sent out to explore the north-south routes in the far west. “The topographical explorations in California were focused on two basic objects,” according to Goetzmann, “the location of suitable passes through the Sierra Nevada and the Coast Range and the determination of a route that would connect California with Oregon and Washington.” Lieutenant Robert S. Williamson initially explored five passes in 1853, of which only two were found viable. Two years later, a survey party under Lieutenant John Parke made a final attempt to trace a route from Los Angeles to San Francisco, west of the Coast Range. Parke’s route appeared to be feasible and the Southern Pacific Railroad eventually laid its tracks along the coast.

The current map shows the findings of Parke’s coastal survey. It is an outstanding, large topographical map of the coast of California from San Bernadino north to Benicia. Rendered on a scale of 12 miles to an inch, the details are quite fine, providing clear distinctions among types of terrain and including mountain passes, rivers, lakes, towns, and prominent natural sites. Lieutenant Williamson’s 1853 route is plotted for comparison with new route proposed by Parke. Notes Wheat: “This is a map of great interest, not only for its route which is that of the Southern Pacific Coast Line, but because of its showing of ranchos and missions along the route.”

A very impressive topographical effort and a fine example of the railroad survey explorations of the 1850s.

Refs.: Goetzmann, Army Explorations in the American West, pp. 292–294; Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West, vol. IV, pp. 80–81, no. 852.

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