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One of the First Maps Printed In Chicago

Rare early map of the lines of the Galena and Chicago Union Rail Road, published by Acheson in Chicago.

The map is centered on the Mississippi River, with Chicago and Lake Michigan at the far right.  The various counties are shown, as are important cities (in red) and distances from Chicago.  The map is further embellished by a decorative border and scenes in each of the 4 corners.  The detail in the borders is fascinating, including faces, flora and a coruacopia motif. The lines of the railroad are shown in red, along with the lines of other railroads. 

This is one of the first maps printed in Chicago.  As noted in the Encyclopedia of Chicago:

Actual map printing and publishing in Chicago before midcentury was highly intermittent, the first effort being Juliette Kinzie's sketch Chicago in 1812, which appeared in her Narrative of the Massacre at Chicago (1844). By 1853, the arrival of lithographers Henry Acheson and Edward Mendel served to anchor the business firmly in the booming metropolis. From then on, maps were routinely manufactured as well as compiled and sold in Chicago itself, although maps published in the East continued to dominate the trade until after the Civil War. 

Galena and Chicago Union Railroad

The Galena and Chicago Union Railroad, also known as the Galena Union, was one of first railroad to operate in the Chicago area and played a key role in the development and growth of the city. The Galena Union was chartered in 1836, just a few years after the first railroad in the United States began operation. It was designed to connect the lead mining region around Galena, Illinois with the growing city of Chicago. At the time, the transportation of lead ore from Galena to Chicago was mostly done by riverboats, which was slow and unreliable. The railroad was seen as a way to improve the efficiency of transporting the ore and other goods between the two locations.

Construction of the Galena Union began in 1848 and the first train ran on the line in 1851. The railroad was initially built to a gauge of 5 feet, which was different from the standard gauge of 4 feet 8.5 inches that was used on most other railroads in the United States. This caused problems when the Galena Union connected with other railroads, as the trains had to be transferred between gauges at the connection points.   In 1850, the Galena Union was completed as far as Elgin. Along with the Illinois & Michigan Canal, it was a were vital part of the development of Chicago.

In 1862, the Galena Union leased the Cedar Rapids & Missouri Railroad, which would go on toe become t he first railroad to reach Council Bluffs, Iowa and the first transcontinental railroad.  


The map is extremely rare.  OCLC lists 2 examples (Wisconsin Historical Society and British Library).