Rare large format map of Southwestern Colorado, centered on the mining regions around Durango, Silverton and San Juan County.
Insets include (1) Railroad systems reaching Durango [from Denver, Salt Lake City, Albuquerque, and Phoenix]; (2) Plat of Needle Mountain mines; (3) Plat of Durango and surroundings; (4) Plat of mines at La Plata Mountains, California Mining District; and (5) Plat of San Juan Co., Utah. The map shows land districts, Indian reservations, railroads, irrigation canals, and part of New Mexico. Also shows the east boundary line of Ute ceded lands.
An interesting and rare map centered on the San Juan Mountains mining area. Fischer was a Silverton-based artist and map maker active from 1880 to his death in 1898. During the 1880s and early 1890s, the Red Mountain Mining District was one of the richest and most productive in the world, yielding millions of dollars of silver, gold, lead, and other minerals. The famous Million Dollar Highway from Ouray and Silverton Railroad from Silverton were built to service the mines. County boundaries are colored with mining district boundaries both colored and numbered. Large numbers of named mine sites, mills, towns, and other features illustrated with remarkable detail. Fischer produced several San Juan regional maps which during the frenzy of activity generated by the discovery of rich ore deposits at Red Mountain.
Fischer's work would remain the definitive cartographic source for the region until the USGS produced its first map of the Silverton area in 1897, based upon a survery conducted in 1895 (which covered a relatively small area), and thereafter its map of the Silverton Quadrangle in 1901, based upon its survey in 1900-1901.
Beginning in 1883, Emil Fischer produced six regional maps of the San Juan mining district, all of which are very rare. Fischer's primary interest seems to have been his art, although he was an occaisional prospector. In 1890, he was known to have done some survey work for the Rio Grande & Utah Railroad, but for the most part, his art and mapmaking work took up the bulk of his time.
Obituary of Emil Fischer, transcribed from the Montezuma Journal, September 30, 1898
On his arrival from Silverton yesterday evening, Judge Russell informed a Democrat reporter that Emil Fischer, the noted mapmaker and artist, had fallen dead at Silverton just a little while before time for the Durango bound train.
Mr. Fischer had been in the First National bank in that city and had just stepped upon the sidewalk when without a word he fell dead.
A short time ago Mr. Fischer told B. W. Rittler that he was suffering greatly and would have to go to a lower attitude. Mr. Ritter encouraged him to do this and said he would assist him if required. Poor Fischer waited to long; he clung to the mountain heights sketching, to earn money to go on, but alas, this very good and useful man will not be with us to serve the San Juan longer.
Judge Richard McCloud has a letter from Fischer, written on the 17th. It is very pathetic. He said he was then a physical wreck; there had been no sale for his excellent maps recently issued and he expressed the regret that there was so little to do in his line to earn money. He told a sorrowful story of his condition of health.
Fischer had just arrived in Silverton from one of his mountain sketching tours, and probably had little idea of how soon he was to die.
George Freund of the Colorado Armory, knew Prof. Fischer well during the time he lived in San Juan, dating from the early part of 1881. They were quite close friends and the Prof. often discussed his early life with Mr. Freund, who thinks Fischer was born in Saxony, Germany, as his father was for a long time a government survyor for the state of Saxony. In 1872 or '73, Fischer came to America, coming direct from New York to Omaha, where he was employed for two or three years by Keuntz Brothers in mercantile and banking pursuits. Prior to locating in Durango, Fischer visited California and later resided in Denver. When the building of the Rio Grande railway to the San Juan attracted widespread attention, Fischer came to Durango. Since his residence here he has, in his labors to earn a compentency by map making and sketching, rendered the country many valuable services which haved been very poorly paid.
Prof. Fischer was unfortunately one of the great class whom God had richly endowed with talents, but to serve the public for a miserable existence, a pittance now and then and some crumbs.
Fischer was a genius who could have shone in comparison with the world of genius. He was unfortunate not to have a found a niche in his life career which would better have enabled him to his last hours to enjoy life a little longer--Durango Democat.