Sign In

- Or use -
Forgot Password Create Account
Stock# 83532

The Earliest Mapping of The Salt Lake City Region, Mormon Settlements and the Overland Route To The Utah Territory

Nice examples of the 2 monumental western maps which accompanied Howard Stansbury's report of his explorations of the Great Basin and the Great Salt Lake.    

Map of the Route from Fort Leavenworth to the Great Salt Lake

The first map shows the route from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas Territory, on the Missouri River, to Pilot Peak, immediately west of the Great Salt Lake.  The map follows the Platte River through the Plains of Kansas and Eastern Colorado (not yet a territory), passing through the lands of the Pawnee Nation and the Sioux Nation to Fort Laramie and Fort Bridger, before crossing the Wasatch Mountains into the Great Basin.

Great Salt Lake City is shown at the south end of the lake, with significant topographical detail given in the area of Salt Lake and Utah Lake, along with observations on the lands along the way regarding water and prospects for farming and pasture lands.

The region traversed is still Indian Territory and Utah Territory, with a large section of Oregon Territory (now Idaho) shown.

Map of the Great Salt Lake and Adjacent Territory

Nice example of the earliest obtainable map of the Salt Lake region, published as part of Stansbury's Report on the region.

The map extends a bit west of the Lake to the Uinta's and South to Lake Utah, Mt. Nebo and the "Youab Valley," as well as considerably east of the lake and the Wasatch, including a town plan for Salt Lake and Ogden City, along with roads, other towns, rivers, etc. The Emigrant Road to California is noted along the top.

Carl Wheat, in his foundational book on the mapping of the Transmississippi West, described Stansbury's map as:

a major production...for the Great Salt Lake itself the map was definitive...Scientific cartography for the Territory of Utah may be said to date from the appearance of this map."

Davide Rumsey notes that Stansbury's map "is a stunning map, large in scope, and clearly shows the genius of Charles Preuss as a cartographer."

Stansbury Expedition

The maps accompanied Howard Stansbury's Report, Exploration and Survey of the Valley of the Great Salt Lake of Utah, including a Reconnaissance of a new Route through the Rocky Mountains.

The Stansbury expedition was one of the most important early expeditions to the West. In 1849, Stansbury was ordered to travel from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas to survey the Great Salt Lake in Utah, to evaluate emigration trails along the way (especially the Oregon and Mormon trails), and to scout for possible locations for a transcontinental railroad. The expedition consisted of 18 men including second-in-command Lieutenant John Williams Gunnison. During the next two years, the expedition explored the Great Salt Lake, Utah Lake and the Cache Valley of northern Utah all the way to Fort Hall in southern Idaho.

When Stansbury arrived in the Utah Territory, the Mormon leaders were worried that the expedition was part of an effort by the U.S Government to oust the settlers. Stansbury held a meeting with Brigham Young to assure him that the expedition was purely scientific. Young responded by assigning his personal secretary, Albert Carrington, to assist the expedition.

In his report, Stansbury wrote:

This pledge thus heartily given was as faithfully redeemed and it gives me pleasure here to acknowledge the warm interest manifested and efficient aid rendered as well by the president as by all the leading men of the community both in our welfare and in the successful prosecution of the work.

In 1850, he advised Brigham Young on the extermination of the Timpanogos, which he said "could not but meet my entire approval" and gave supplies for the Battle at Fort Utah. Upon completing the mission in Utah, the expedition started back east to Leavenworth. Rather than follow the standard Oregon Trail route from Fort Bridger over South Pass through the Sweetwater River Valley, Stansbury wanted to scout a more direct route east. Following the advice of Jim Bridger and local trappers and traders, the expedition followed the Blacks Fork River eastward, crossed the Green River near the present town of Green River, Wyoming, and proceeded east along the Bitter Creek Valley, crossing the Red Desert, and skirting the northern side of Elk Mountain across the Laramie Plains. They passed over the Laramie Mountains and made their way to Fort Laramie where they struck the Oregon Trail heading east. Stansbury noted of the journey:

Having now brought our reconnoissance [sic] for a new route from the waters of the Pacific to a point where its results can be at least approximately ascertained it is very gratifying to be able to state that these results are in a high degree satisfactory more so indeed than I had anticipated. It has been ascertained that a practicable route exists through the chain of the Rocky Mountains at a point sixty miles south of that now generally pursued and in a course as much more direct as the chord of an arc is than the arc itself.

An essential map for Utah and Plains Collectors.