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Correct Map of the Railway and Steamship Lines Operated by the Southern Pacific Company: Southern Pacific Company 1891

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  • Title: Correct Map of the Railway and Steamship Lines Operated by the Southern Pacific Company
  • Author: Southern Pacific Company
  • Date: 1891
  • Medium: Wax engraving
  • Condition: Very Good - small tear along fold in center of map.
  • Inches: 39.25 x 16.5 [Paper]
  • Centimeters: 99.6 x 41.9 [Paper]
  • Product ID: 307019

This beautiful antique railroad map published by the Southern Pacific Company in 1891 depicts the Southern Pacific line and it's stops. The Southern Pacific Company was founded in San Francisco in 1865 by a group of businessmen led by Timothy Phelps, but it's origins lie in an earlier railroad system constructed by the Houston and Texas Central Railway. That company was chartered in 1848 by Ebenezer Allen of Galveston, but did not become active until 1852 when ground was broken by Paul Bremond and Thomas William House. The Railroad gradually expanded throughout Texas, reaching Austin and Corsicana in 1871 and Dallas in 1872. In 1873, the Railroad was linked with the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad "to form the first all-rail route from Texas to St. Louis and the East" (TSHA Online).

The H&TC came under Southern Pacific Control in 1877, becoming the oldest railroad under that company’s control. On the map's reverse are time tables and rates for various routes and services. One notable inclusion is an advertisement for the famous Sunset Route (later known as the "Sunset Limited"). Linking New Orleans to Los Angeles, the Sunset Route was one of only three transcontinental rail routes. As the southernmost route (the others starting in Chicago and St. Louis), it was the only reliable all-season option. The Sunset Limited stills runs today, making it the oldest named train in the United States.

This map was creating using the wax engraving process, which involved engraving an image onto an extremely thin layer of wax. The engraved wax would then be "built up" and electroplated to form a reusable printing plate. It could take more than 100 of these plates to make a single map. The wax engraving method was widely used for map printing in the U. S. in the 19th century because "the technique easily allowed line and text in the same image" (CulturalHeritage.org). 

Maps like there would have guided our ancestors through the steel web that had only recently made interstate travel convenient and (relatively) safe. These were disposable items, equivalent to today's concert programs, so it is very rare to find one as exquisitely preserves as this.