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Rare early railroad map of California, publshed by George Cram in Chicago, with a fine detailed map of Nevada on the verso (21 x 15 inches).

Cram's 1879 Railroad Map of California (and Nevada) is the third in a series of variants following the 1875 Cram's Rail Road and Township Map of California. In 1876, Cram seems to have issued an oversized set of his Western Railroad maps in pocket map format and also bound up a set of the maps in an unusual oversized atlas of wall maps. This 1879 edition has been significantly updated with additional railroad lines, most noteably in Southern California. Whereas in 1876, Cram showed only a line from Los Angeles to the Harbor at San Pedro, this 1879 edition shows a number of lines traversing Southern California, including one extending from Los Angeles toward the Yuma area and a second line to San Diego, along with 3 local lines in Los Angeles County.

Cram's large format map of California includes state surveys, railroads, towns, mountains, lakes, rivers, mines, roads and a host of other details. The map includes a detailed treatment of the nascent railroad system within California and is one of the most detailed and accurate large format maps of the period.

Cram's map of Nevada is of equal note, providing the most detailed atlas map of Nevada published in the 19th Century. The map shows the railroad lines, early towns, counties, mining districts, mountains, rivers and other details.

George F. Cram Biography

George F. Cram (1842-1928), or George Franklin Cram, was an American mapmaker and businessman. During the Civil War, Cram served under General William Tecumseh Sherman and participated in his March to the Sea. His letters of that time are now important sources for historians of the Civil War. In 1867, Cram and his uncle, Rufus Blanchard, began the company known by their names in Evanston, Illinois.

Two years later, Cram became sole proprietor and the company was henceforth known as George F. Cram Co. Specializing in atlases, Cram was one of the first American companies to publish a world atlas. One of their most famous products was the Unrivaled Atlas of the World, in print from the 1880s to the 1950s.

Cram died in 1928, seven years after he had merged the business with that of a customer, E.A. Peterson. The new company still bore Cram’s name. Four years later, the Cram Company began to make globes, a branch of the business that would continue until 2012, when the company ceased to operate. For the final several decades of the company’s existence it was controlled by the Douthit family, who sold it just before the company was shuttered.