Washington Territory -- Three Years Before Statehood
Rare early railroad map of Washington, from Cram's rare 1886 Standard American Railroad Atlas.
George Cram's railroad map of Washington, featured in his Standard American Railroad Atlas, provides a detailed depiction of the state. It highlights counties, township surveys, towns, and the expanding railroad networks. Additionally, it marks topographical features, Indian Reservations, forts, and post offices. The map serves as a snapshot of Washington during a pivotal era of development and change.
George Cram would become one of the most prolific atlas publishers of the last 19th and early 20th Centuries. However, his earliest maps, issued in the late 1860s, were marvelous separately issued railroad maps. His success led to the publication of two editions of his now impossibly rare Standard American Atlas from 1875 unti the mid 1880s.
George F. Cram (1842-1928), or George Franklin Cram, was an American mapmaker and businessman. During the Civil War, Cram served under General William Tecumseh Sherman and participated in his March to the Sea. His letters of that time are now important sources for historians of the Civil War. In 1867, Cram and his uncle, Rufus Blanchard, began the company known by their names in Evanston, Illinois.
Two years later, Cram became sole proprietor and the company was henceforth known as George F. Cram Co. Specializing in atlases, Cram was one of the first American companies to publish a world atlas. One of their most famous products was the Unrivaled Atlas of the World, in print from the 1880s to the 1950s.
Cram died in 1928, seven years after he had merged the business with that of a customer, E.A. Peterson. The new company still bore Cram’s name. Four years later, the Cram Company began to make globes, a branch of the business that would continue until 2012, when the company ceased to operate. For the final several decades of the company’s existence it was controlled by the Douthit family, who sold it just before the company was shuttered.