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The Eastern Span of the Great Highway of the Continent from across Rivers and Lakes, across Prairies, Over the Alleghanies, Down the Valley of the Potomac, to the Sea.

Extremely rare, nationwide map showing the extent of the Baltimore and Ohio railroad at the end of the 1870s.

The map is an early example of a Rand McNally railroad map of the sort that would become ubiquitous in the late 1880s and 1890s. The map shows the route of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad as it heads westward along the continent, and, notably, shows all the connecting routes, which combine to produce a fabulous mapping of the early railroads in the Transmissippi West. The map even includes the Pacific Coast in a marvelously-designed inset that lines up the state boundaries of Utah and Idaho with the states that are not in the inset.

The map includes a vignette in the lower right showing the maritime terminus of the Baltimore and Ohio railroad with several tall ships at harbor. The verso includes a number of timetables.


From the collection of an Englishman gentleman who traveled across the United States and onwards to the Sandwich Islands in the year 1880 and 1881.


All editions of this map are scarce. This, (apparently earliest) edition with the inset of the marine terminus of the B and O in the lower right, is extremely rare.

We locate only a copy at Harvard University (dated 1878) that also has the vignette. An example from the Rutherford B Hayes Presidential library does not have sufficient information to confirm the edition, although it appears to be later. 

We find no examples of this map having traded.

Condition Description
Folding map. Printed both sides. Minor red stain in the leftmost part of the map.
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.