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Rare early separately published railroad map of California, publshed by George Cram in Chicago.

Cram's 1876 Railroad Map of California is an unusual early variant of the 1875 Cram's Rail Road and Township Map of California. In 1876, Cram seems to have issued an unusual oversized set of his Western Railroad maps in pocket map format and also bound up a set of the maps in an unusual oversized atlas of wall maps. As with the 1876 Cram's County and Rail Road Map of Texas, this map extends considerably farther north than either the 1875 or the 1879 editions of the map, both which are the same size (29 x 21 inches). Other than this change, the maps are largely similar and would appear to be from the same plate as the 1876 edition of the map.

Cram's large format map of California includes state surveys, railroads, towns, mountains, lakes, rivers, mines, roads and a host of other details. The map includes a detailed treatment of the nascent railroad system within California and is one of the most detailed and accurate large format maps of the period.

George F. Cram Biography

George F. Cram (1842-1928), or George Franklin Cram, was an American mapmaker and businessman. During the Civil War, Cram served under General William Tecumseh Sherman and participated in his March to the Sea. His letters of that time are now important sources for historians of the Civil War. In 1867, Cram and his uncle, Rufus Blanchard, began the company known by their names in Evanston, Illinois.

Two years later, Cram became sole proprietor and the company was henceforth known as George F. Cram Co. Specializing in atlases, Cram was one of the first American companies to publish a world atlas. One of their most famous products was the Unrivaled Atlas of the World, in print from the 1880s to the 1950s.

Cram died in 1928, seven years after he had merged the business with that of a customer, E.A. Peterson. The new company still bore Cram’s name. Four years later, the Cram Company began to make globes, a branch of the business that would continue until 2012, when the company ceased to operate. For the final several decades of the company’s existence it was controlled by the Douthit family, who sold it just before the company was shuttered.