A New Map Of The State Of California, The Territories Of Oregon & Utah, Compiled after the best authorities. 1852, produced by Joseph Meyer in Hildburghausen, offers an insightful view into the Western United States during a pivotal moment in American history. With its intricate details, including trails, wagon routes, early roads, towns, Indian Tribes, mining claims, rivers, and early forts, it also features a large inset of San Francisco and its environs. Notably, it highlights unique features such as the Mormon Settlement at Salt Lake, the absence of Lake Tahoe, and the depiction of a massive Tule Lake (Lake Tulare), along with early California counties and the pre-Gadsden purchase border with Mexico.
Created during the Gold Rush era and just after California's admission to the Union in 1850, this map captures the rapid transformation and westward expansion that marked the mid-19th century. The trails and routes, such as the Spanish Trail, Cooke's Wagon Route, Kearney's Route, and Lewis & Clarke's Canoe Route, testify to the myriad paths that explorers, settlers, and miners took in their westward journeys. The depiction of mining claims particularly resonates with the gold fever that attracted a multitude of prospectors to California.
Joseph Meyer's map showcases a blend of known geography and conjectural details, especially in the Great Basin, reflecting the ongoing exploration and mapping of the region. The topographical features, attributed to John Charles Fremont's explorations, provide a glimpse into the geographical understanding of the time.
Distinctive in its content and aesthetic appeal, Meyer's map stands out from contemporary works, such as those by Mitchell, due to its unique inset of the Gold Regions. As a document, it encapsulates a dynamic period of exploration, settlement, and development in the American West. Its detailed rendering of the territories of California, Oregon, and Utah—complete with historical routes, settlements, and natural features—offers a rich cartographic representation that contributes to the understanding of a transformative era in American history.
Joseph Meyer (1796-1856) was a German publisher who released Meyers Konversations-Lexikon, a German-language encyclopedia in print from 1839 to 1984. Meyer was born in Gotha and educated as a merchant in Frankfurt, an important city in the book trade. He traveled in London in 1816 and was back in German in 1820, where he began to invest in textiles and railways. He opened his publishing operation, Bibliographisches Institut, in 1826. His publications each had a serial number, a new innovation at the time. He was best known for his atlases and the Meyers Universum (1833-1861), which featured steel-engravings of the world. The Universum stretched to 17 volumes in 12 languages and was subscribed to by 80,000 people all over Europe. Thanks to his publishing success, Meyer moved the Institut from Gotha to Hildburghausen in 1828. Meyer died in the latter city in 1856.