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Building The Hotel Del Coronado -- E.S. Babcock Constructing Coronado's Sand Dunes in March 1888

Rare (unrecorded?) letter sheet map of San Diego County, promoting the newly opened Coronado Beach and Coronado Hotel, which had opened in February 1888, and was, at the time, the largest resort in the world.

On the verso, the president of the newly built Hotel Del Coronado asks Adolph Sutro for "a supply of bunch grass . . . for reclaiming san hills."  It is indeed curious to see Babcock reaching out to Sutro, then one of the wealthiest men in California, however by 1888, the planting of "bunch grass" had become popular in San Francisco and other towns as means of reducing the movement of "shifting sand dunes" in coastal California.

Prepared specifically for the Coronado Beach Company by Rand McNally, the map provides a comprehensive overview of San Diego County, identifying Orange Districts, Grape Districts, Vineyards and other details which are almost never seen on early maps of the region.  Several early railroad stops are shown on the coastal route which would later disappear from the map, including:

  • Frazier's (Station):  Named for ranchers in the 1860s.  Renamed Carlsbad in 1883
  • Stewarts (Station):  Built in 1884 near Palomar Airport Road to store and ship grain products of  W.W. Stewart and Company Shippers and Commission Merchants,
  • Cordero Station: Located east of Del Mar in Carmel Valley by 1884.  Named for the Cordero Brothers, who participated in the Portola Expedition of 1769 (Joaquin Ignacio Cordero and Juan Mariano Cordero).
  • Selwyn Station (Rose Canyon)

Other long lost towns in the County include:

  • Nellie
  • Osgood
  • Agua Tibia
  • Ballena
  • Vineyard
  • Emery


We have never seen the stationary map and we find no record of it in any institutional collection.  The Babcock letter to Sutro is unrecorded.

Condition Description
Type written letter on verso, signed by E.S. Babock.
Rand McNally & Company Biography

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.