Rare and highly important map of the Oregon and Washington, prepared "chiefly for military purposes," by the United States Bureau of Topographical Engineers in 1859, generally regarded as the best map of the Northwest published prior to the Civil War. The table of authorities notes that the map was compiled from approximately a dozen other important early surveys in the region, including those by Fremont, Stansbury, Gunnison, Stephens, Williamson, Abbot, Mendell, Derby, Lander, and Bishop.
The map provides the final snapshot of the region which was first explored by Lewis & Clark, bringing to a close a 50 year period of exploration and settlement and preceding a period of important mining and settlement booms in the region. Great care is given to providing the best available topographical and hydrographical information for the region, but there are still wide swaths of land which are largely unexplored.
The Emigrant Road and Fremont's Route are shown, along with important early forts and settlements. Extending southeast to the area around Salt Lake and South Pass, the map captures in a single large image the best information then known to the United States Government about the Military Department of Oregon.
This is one of a group of maps produced by order of the Secretary of War covering the military departments in the West. Wheat notes that the map was
compiled principally for the use of the Department of Oregon. It shows Washington Territory curving around the state of Oregon and taking in all of Idaho, although a political border is not shown. A number of "authorities" are stated in a note, and except for the unexplored portions this seems to be about the best map of Oregon, Washington and Idaho country that could have been made prior to the Civil War. It is an excellent map.
It should be noted that this map was of such rarity, even in the middle of the 20th Century, that Wheat was only able to locate a reduced size photostatic copy of the map (the original of which was in very poor condition at the time of the image). The map was cataloged in the Streeter Sale (#3331, purchased from Argosy in 1942), but was "withdrawn" prior to the sale.
There are no records of the map appearing at auction in the 20th Century (other than Streeter). Wheat did not locate the map and it is not in the Rumsey collection. This is is the first time we have ever seen the map offered for sale.