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2008 Catalog > 12. Colton, State of Iowa


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12. G. Woolworth Colton. “G. Woolworth Colton’s Township Map of the State of Iowa” (New York: G. Woolworth Colton, and Des Moines, Iowa: Mills Brothers, 1863). Lithographed pocket map with fine, bright original full and outline hand color. Together with 12mo brown cloth boards with embossed design and state seal and title in gilt on front. 17 7/8 x 23" including the lovely decorative border. Sheet size: 20 3/4 x 24 1/2". Table at left shows the population by county according to the 1860 census. Overall toning to sheet; scattered spotting especially in l. l. quadrant and in r. margin; several minor losses and marginal chip at l. r., all professionally stabilized.

Price: SOLD [ Order ]

G. W. Colton’s excellent Civil War-era map of Iowa focuses on settlement information that includes townships and ranges, towns and villages, canals, common roads, the state capital, and individually hand-colored counties. Railroad routes are mostly confined thus far to the eastern third of the map, where settlement is most concentrated. However, many projected railroads are already appearing in dashed lines. A railroad frenzy swept Iowa in the early 1850s as city officials in the river communities of Dubuque, Clinton, Davenport, and Burlington began to organize local railroad companies. They knew that railroads building west from Chicago would soon reach the Mississippi River opposite the four Iowa cities. With Chicago’s pre-eminence as a railroad center, the corn, wheat, beef, and pork raised by Iowa’s farmers could be shipped through Chicago and across the nation to eastern seaports. By 1863, the date of the map, several railroad lines connected the Quad City area and Burlington as far west as Marshalltown, Grinnell, and Cedar Rapids. Proposed railroads on the map show continued westward expansion that eventually resulted in the development of the Illinois Central, the Chicago and North Western Railway, reaching Council Bluffs in 1867.

Click for image of cloth cover

An interesting footnote to the construction of the railroad during this period is the appearance of the town of Homestead on the map. The settlers of the Amana Colony established Homestead in 1861 in order to have access to the railroad. Interestingly, the map does not show the other five Amana villages, founded in 1855, eight years before the publication of the map.

Iowa was one of the thirty Public Land states that were surveyed by the General Land Office using the new rectangular system whereby land was partitioned into township and range. Colton includes a lengthy note on the map explaining how to use the township and range system to locate specific parcels.

One of the most important American commercial mapmakers of the nineteenth century, J. H. Colton and Company for years specialized in the publication of pocket maps, wall maps, and guides before embarking on the firm’s first atlas in 1855. The Colton company also discovered a market for railroad and township maps and sold thousands of them between 1850 and 1887. G. W. Colton was the eldest son of the founder, J. H. Colton, and took over the business with his brother Charles in about 1867.

Overall, a beautiful example, with strong bright color, of this desirable map of Iowa in the latter nineteenth century and published in the now scarce pocket format.

Refs.: Phillips, Maps, p. 337 (1862 ed.); Ristow, American Maps and Mapmakers, p. 318.

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