Extraordinary map of the mining regions around Nome, Alaska, quite likely the earliest printed map of the Nome Gold Regions and almost certainly the first to have been published from on the spot drawings by a local surveyor.
David Rumsey notes "The 'new' Alaska gold rush at Nome began in earnest in the fall of 1899; Streeter 3602 (this map) is a Map of the Cape Nome Gold Fields, copyright 18 Nov. 1899, which Streeter calls the first map of the Nome mining region." Prepared by the "so-called" Nome Map Company and printed in Seattle by Denny-Coryell Company of Seattle, the map is a marvelous example of the ephemeral nature of the Nome Gold Rush and the sense of urgency which accompanied the need to produce maps and guidebooks of the region, in advance of the first detailed mapping of the region by the US Government.
Prepared by Civil Engineer Gustaf Nordblom (about whom we were unable to locate any information), the map provides a primitive folk art quality image of the major gold mining regions around Cape Nome, shortly after the discovery of gold. In the summer 1898, Jafet Lindeberg, Erik Lindblom and John Brynteson discovered gold on Anvil Creek (illustrated just above the town of Nome at the bottom of the Nome Mining District Map). Gold was so plentiful that it was discovered in the beach sands for dozens of miles along the coastline, resulting in a gold rush of epic proportion. News spread south by winter and the population of Nome exploded to 10,000 almost overnight, reaching a peak of 20,000 people in the following decade.
The map is clearly something which was cobbled together quickly from the crude sketch work of its maker and was intended for immediate sale to gold seekers leaving Seattle for the gold fields, quite possibly to be offered exclusively by outfitters anxious to gain a commercial advantage over other proprietors selling provisions to the gold seekers.
The map is extremely rare. Only one institutional copy is located by OCLC (Huntington Library) and the only recorded example of the sale of the map at auction is the Streeter Sale (3602) (along with this example, purchased in 2008). Streeter stated in his own words that "this must be about the first map of the Nome mining region." (Streeter's copy was torn with tape discoloration on folds and still made a whopping $40.00 when it sold in 1967. By comparison, Lot 3862, Mitchell's 1846 Map of Mexico, including Yucatan & Upper California, exhibiting the Chief Cities and Towns, the Principal Travelling Routes &c., sold for $30.00 in the same sale ).