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One of the great maps in the record of Western Cartography

Nice example of the 1870 edition of the W.W. De Lacy map of Montana, referred to by Carl Wheat as "one of the great maps in the record of Western Cartography."

The present example is the first state of the map issued by G.W & C.B. Colton in New York.  The Colton-De Lacy is the third printed map of Montana, preceded only by De Lacy's 1865 map and a map by Owen in 1866.

De Lacy, a civil engineer and West Point graduate, had been commissioned by the Montana Territorial Legislature to produce a map of the Territory at its first meeting in the summer of 1864, following the formation of the Territory on May 16, 1864.  De Lacy first issued this monumental map of Montana Territory and parts of Wyoming in 1865. The first edition of the map is known in 3 states, as noted by Saunders ( Imago Mundi, Vol 54, pp 129-134).

As noted by Saunders, two copies of De Lacey's original manuscript map were created by De Lacy, one of which "shipped east for printing." Within the first year after its creation, printed editions of the map were published by Julius Hutawa in St. Louis and by Rae Smith of New York. The Smith edition includes an inset "Map showing the Routes from the Missouri River to Fort Laramie." Saunders notes two states of the Smith edition, one with no copyright and one with a copyright by S.T. Hauser. For many years, it was believed that the Smith map was the first printed edition of the map and was thereafter copied by Hutawa, but Saunders argues persuasively that the Hutawa is in fact the original source, which was copied by Smith (Saunders notes that Hutawa uses the earliest name for Helena, Prickly Pear City, whereas Smith uses a later name, Montana City. Hutawa also correctly spells Sublette's Road, whereas Smith erroneously includes Sablette's Road).  

An example of the first edition can be seen here:

In 1870, GW & CB Colton issued a much enlarged and updated version of the map, which includes an inset map of the Northwest. The 1870 edition includes a list of sources for the De Lacy map, including

  • Stevens Surveys for the Northern Pacific RR (1853-55)
  • Mullans Surveys (1859-62)
  • Raynolds Surveys on the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers
  • US Public Land Surveys
  • Personal surveys of 1859-1869
  • Clift Surveys of the route to Mussellshell (1869)
  • Cooke & Folsom's explorations to Yellowstone Lake (1869)
  • Reliable information derived from Miners, Surveyors and Explorers.

De Lacy's Lake (now Shoshone Lake) appears, along with De Lacy's route of exploration in 1863 through the Grand Canyon of the Snake River, Jackson Hole, and across a divide to the South Fork of Firehole River, toward Bozeman via the West Gallatin River.

Manuscript Annotations

The present example includes extensive annotations in the hand of an early owner of the map.  These include:

  • Route from Virginia City to the Geysers in West Yellowstone is shown, with the Geysers circled in red and named, with a continuation road to Mud Springs above Yellowstone Lake
  • Route from Ft. Ellis and the Boseman Pass to Yellowstone Lake shown in red, following the 1870 route of the Washburn–Langford–Doane Expedition to Yellowstone Lake from Ft. Ellis.
  • Yellowstone outline in brown and named "Park".  Yellowstone National Park would hot be created until March 1872.
  • Military Road from Walla Walla to Deer Lodge City, Helena, Gallatin City and Fort Ellis is highlighted in brown.
  • Road from Virginia City toward Salt Lake City & Corrine is highlighted in brown, with a secondary route via Ryon's Station and Beaverhead Rock also noted, as well as a direct route from Ryon's Station to Virginia City.

Early Mapping of Yellowstone

De Lacy's depiction of the Cooke & Folsom explorations makes this one of the most important early Yellowstone maps, tracing the route from Bozeman to Yellowstone, below its 1st Canyon, through the 2nd Canyon and around the east edge of the 3rd Canyon, past Burning Springs, Sulpher Sprints and Hot Sulpher Springs to the Upper and Lower Falls. This makes De Lacy's map the first to report on both the falls and the varied thermal phenomena in the area of Yellowstone Lake.  

Early Montana Details

Wheat notes that while De Lacy's map is important for the information in Yellowstone, within the boundaries of Montana it is equally impressive. The map depicts detail of the towns and mining camps of the Territory, early counties and Indian Reservations, military posts and Indian Agencies. It highlights the routes of Captain Clifton from Fort Howie to Musselshell City in 1869 and Fort Hawley. A Road to Minnesota is the Fiske Road from Fort Benton via the Milk to the Missouri River.

Glass Bluffs is named, a reference to Hugh Glass, killed on the Yellowstone River in 1833 by Arikaras Indians). The Bridger and Bozeman Trails are shown, with several abandoned forts noted along the way. The Colton edition of the map extends further west and therefore includes information not on the 1865 map and only available in De Lacy's 1866 manuscript map, including his treatment of the road system in Idaho and Eastern Washington.

The Editions of De Lacey's Map

The first edition of Colton's map was issued in 1870. Later editions of the map appeared in 1871, 1872, 1874, 1875 and 1878.

One of the first changes which appear in the map in the second edition of the map is the correction of the Idaho boundary. In the 1870 edition, the borders is shown at 117 degrees west, whereas in all subsequent editions, the boundary is moved 40 minutes to the west.

The later editions add a number of additional features, including the Arikarees, Gros Ventres & Mandan Indian Reservation, The Gros Ventres, Piegan, Blood, Blackfee & Crow Indian Reservation. The topography of northwest Montana and Idaho is significantly improved in the later editions and the Nez Perce reservation is added in Idaho. As a result of the Gold Discoveries on the Salmon River, significant topographical improvements are made. In Wyoming, the Snake Indian Reservation is added in later editions.

The later editions also show the progress of Township Surveys in the Territory. There is also significantly more Gold Mining activity showing in the later editions.


The first edition of the map extremely rare.   We note two examples on the market in the past 60 years (Swann 2003; Streeter copy in 1968)

Condition Description
Folding map in original brown cloth covers with gilt title. A few minor fold breaks and tears and some minor restorations.
Wheat, C.I. (TM) 1211; Streeter (Sale) 2236.