Unrecorded early map of the Northern United States, showing the route of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad from Lake Michigan to Dakota, with a large inset map (10 x 26 inches) of the Northwestern U.S. and southwestern Canada (entitled Map of the Country Traversed Northern Pacific Extension Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Rail Way).
Both the main title and inset map title are very decorative, being brightly colored in orange, green and yellow. The inset map takes a small dip southward to show the proximity of the proposed line to the new Yellowstone National Park which is clearly highlighted. The main map also shows Yellowstone but does not feature it so as to make it stand out as clearly as the inset map. This is among the first generation of maps issued by Rand McNally, which issued its first machine-colored railway maps of the United States in 1874. This map can be dated from 1874 or 1875 from county configurations in Nebraska, Wyoming and Colorado. This is an important map, therefore, both for its early depiction of Yellowstone Park and its position as one of the earliest cartographic productions of one of the most prolific and important map publishers of the 19th and 20 th centuries.
The Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad was first incorporated in 1847 as the Milwaukee & Waukesha Railroad when incorporated in 1847. Shortly thereafter, it changed its name to Milwaukee & Mississippi. By 1850, the first train ran from Milwaukee to Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, and the first passenger train ran on February 25, 1851. In 1874, the name was changed to Chicago, Milwaukee, & St. Paul. By 1887, the railroad had lines running through Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, South Dakota, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
The present map was issued shortly after the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad, as an early promotional item and advertisement of the line's intention to reach Yellowstone. It should be noted that it would be another decade before the Northern Pacific Railroad finally did reach Yellowstone and it was not until 1928 that the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad finally completed a continuous route to the Park.
Rand McNally & Co. is a large American map and navigation company best known for its annual atlases. The company got its start in 1856, when William Rand opened a print shop in Chicago. He was joined in 1858 by a new employee, Andrew McNally. Together, the men established their namesake company in 1868. Originally, the company was intended to print the tickets and timetables for the trains running to and through Chicago; their first railway guide was published in 1869.
By 1870, they had shifted from just printing to publishing directories, travel guides, and newspapers. Their first map appeared in 1872 in a railway guide. The map was produced using a new wax engraving method, a cheaper process that gave the company an edge.
By 1880 Rand McNally had entered the education market with globes, wall maps, and geography texts for students. In 1923, Rand McNally published the first Goode’s World Atlas, named after its editor, Dr. J. Paul Goode. For generations afterward, this would be the standard classroom atlas.
In 1899, William Rand left the company, but McNally and his family remained, controlling the company for over a century. In 1904, they published their first road map intended for automobiles and by 1907 were publishing Photo-Auto Guides, which combined photography and mapping to help drivers. In 1924, they produced the Auto Chum, a precursor to their famous road atlases. Rand McNally would remain the leader in road maps and atlases throughout the twentieth century.
In 1937, Rand McNally opened its first store in New York City. Ever on the frontier of technology, Rand McNally pioneered the scribing process for printing tickets in 1958 and printed their first full-color road atlas in 1960. Arthur Robinson developed his now-famous projection of Rand McNally in 1969. By the 1980s, the company was exploring digital reproduction and digital databases of maps for truckers. In the 1990s, they lead the charge to develop trip-planning software and websites. Today, most of its products are available online or in a digital format, including maps for tablets and phones.