The National Highway System Takes Shape
The Official Map of the United States, prepared by the National Survey Company of Chester, Vermont, under the topographical supervision of L.V. Crocker, was published in 1916 . This map integrates information from United States government surveys, official state surveys, and other primary sources, to present a detailed picture of the United States as it stood in the early 20th century.
The map provides more than physical boundaries of states; it illustrates a rich tapestry of national infrastructure, marking major and feeder railroads, steamship lines, and river navigation routes. It also indicates state capitals, military installations, arsenals, navy yards, and preserves such as national parks, forests, and bird reserves. The delineation of state boundaries and Indian reservations adds another layer to the map, hinting at the sociopolitical undercurrents of the era.
In terms of transportation, the map traces the Lincoln Highway, the first transcontinental highway for automobiles across the U.S., capturing a crucial stage in the country's evolving mobility. Naval and military establishments find representation here too, with added details like the range of fire for coastal defenses, lending strategic value to this cartographic resource.
The map also stands out for its innovative approach to demographic representation: indexes and population tables for each state are embedded in the oceanic spaces. This arrangement allows the viewer to understand population patterns, migration trends, and urban growth during this time. By turning the oceans into repositories of demographic data, the map expands the traditional function of a geographical tool, morphing into a comprehensive visual record of the United States in the early 20th century.