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Rare 1879 military map of California and Nevada

Detailed military map of California and Nevada, issued in 1879, likely in the context of the last of the violence that became known as the California Indian Wars. With interesting annotations reflecting a number of long marches, presumably by an early owner.

The map depicts California, Nevada, and adjacent parts of Oregon, Idaho, Utah, and Arizona, depicting in exquisite detail the topography; rivers, streams, springs and wells; towns, settlements, and forts; and roads, trails, and railroads. A close comparison reveals that it is an enlargement of a section of the magisterial and extremely rare six-sheet Freyhold-Warren map of the West, issued the same year. Interestingly, Wheat misses the connection entirely, though he discusses the two maps in the same paragraph! 

OCLC records a number of examples of the map in institutional collections, but it is surpassingly rare on the market, with no examples listed in either Antique Map Price Record or Rare Book Hub.


The present example of the map is extensively updated with manuscript annotations showing the courses of three long marches. The first is from San Francisco south to Santa Maria (and back); the second from Verdi, Nevada to Sequoia National Park; and the third from Lone Pine to Lake Tahoe. The label “Sequoia Park” and the park boundaries are added in manuscript; the park was founded in 1890, eleven years after the map was made.

The first march gives us surprisingly few clues about those undertaking the journey. In total, 33 stops are identified, each labeled with a fairly generic camp name. The camps are, on average, about 20 miles away from one another, often located at ranches, suggesting that the journey was undertaken on horseback. The camp names do not correspond to anything we have found in the historical record and were probably named as the journey was taking place. The southernmost stop takes place at school grounds in Santa Maria; raising the possibility that the journey was undertaken by an early Boy Scout troop or some similar organization.

A question of precedence

We have compared our map with two examples of the Freyhold-Warren, both partial, one held by Rumsey and the other by Yale. All three are unquestionably from the same lithographic stone, or descended from the same stone; yet all vary in ways both obvious and subtle. 

First, on our map the names Oregon, Idaho, Utah and Arizona have been rendered differently than on the Freyhold-Warren. We have not examined the maps minutely, but the following subtle differences also emerge:

Our map: No “Parker P.O.” or “Olive” below “Mt. Whipple” along the Colorado River. “Rodes Rch” along the Colorado just south of Mineral City. No “Pima & Maricopa Ind. R.” southeast of Phoenix.

Yale map: No “Parker P.O.” or “Olive” below “Mt. Whipple” along the Colorado River. “Rodes Rch” along the Colorado just south of Mineral City and “Rode” along the river further south. “Pima & Maricopa Ind. R.” present southeast of Phoenix.

Rumsey map: “Parker P.O. and “Oliver” added below “Mt. Whipple” along the Colorado River. “Rodes Rch” absent south of Mineral City, but “Rode” still present along the river further south. “Pima & Maricopa Ind. R.” present southeast of Phoenix.

These differences raise the possibility that our map predates the Yale and Rumsey copies of the Freyhold-Warren. Whether however our map predates the Freyhold-Warren in general or is in fact based on some earlier state of that map, is a question that we will to leave to future researchers.

Condition Description
Dissected and laid on linen, probably as issued. Manuscript annotations in pencil and ink.
Rumsey 3360; Wheat, Trans-Mississippi West, vol. V, 1293; OCLC 48762542, 58994804, and possibly others, though the records appear to be corrupted by digital editions and photocopies.