Back to the William R. Talbot Home Page.  Back to the Maps Page
  Rand, McNally & Co. “Railroad Commission Map of Montana” (Chicago: Rand, McNally & Co., 1908).  
Rand McNally, Montana, 1908

Rand McNally, Montana, 1908

Rand, McNally & Co. “Railroad Commission Map of Montana” (Chicago: Rand, McNally & Co., 1908). Lithographed case map dissected and laid on linen. Folds into maroon cloth covers with title embossed in gilt on front cover. Railroad routes coded in 8 colors. 32 3/4 x 51 1/2" at neat line. Sheet size: 41 x 53 1/4". Across the lower portion of the map is a large county and town index keyed to the map. Mint.

Published for the Montana Railroad Commission, Rand and McNally’s large pocket map of Montana is most impressive. It shows all the proposed and existing railroads that traversed the state in the early 1900s, as well as towns, villages, Indian reservations, national forests, mountain ranges, and large lakes in bright blue. Each railroad route is highlighted in a different color and keyed to an index, creating a strong graphic effect.

“Railroads were not only wonders of their age,” writes historian Jon Axline, “they were the era’s great economic stimuli. Arrival of the Northern Pacific in Montana in 1883 initiated an almost delirious period of economic investment and speculation. Railroads made it possible to exploit rich mineral deposits in western Montana and caused an intensive boom in the cattle industry in the eastern part of the state.” The map shows the extent to which railroads had become central to the economic development of the state by the early-20th century.

In addition to Montana, the map extends south to include parts of Idaho and Wyoming, the latter featuring a fine rendering of Yellowstone National Park. The touring loop through the park’s thermal features—the route still in use today—is marked by dotted lines.

A strong impression, the map is in exceptional condition and has wonderful bright colors. The original linen backing is fine. An outstanding example of this magnificent railroad map of the Big Sky State.

Ref.: Jon Axline, “Something of a Nuisance Value: The Montana, Wyoming & Southern Railroad, 1905–1953,” Montana Historical Society,

Copyright 2003, William R. Talbot