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Map of the Country from Lake Superior to the Pacific Ocean: Colton 1867

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  • Title: Map of the Country from Lake Superior to the Pacific Ocean
  • Author: G. W. & C. B. Colton
  • Date: 1867
  • Medium: Hand-colored lithograph
  • Condition: Very Good - creasing throughout, light foxing, age toning, paper reinstated in small areas of loss in margins
  • Inches: 46 x 22 3/4 [Paper]
  • Centimeters: 116.84 x 57.79 [Paper]
  • Product ID: 100075

Map spanning from the Great Lakes to the Pacific Northwest including parts of southern Canada. Includes present-day Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and parts of Colorado, Utah, California, Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio. Also depicts the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario. Map labels major topographic features, railroad lines, counties, natural resources, and the locations of Native peoples. Isothermal lines indicate a region's mean annual temperature, and the map's upper register contains an inset titled 'Profile of the Route of the Northern Pacific Railroad.' This dissected view shows changes in elevation along the railroad. Colton also includes information regarding the distances between points on the map and major cities and ports, over both land and sea.

Map of the Country
Lake Superior to the Pacific Ocean
From the latest Explorations and Surveys
to Accompany the Report of
Edwin F. Johnson Chf. Engr. Northern Pacific RR.
November 1867.

Joseph Hutchins Colton (1800-1893) moved to New York City from his birthplace of Longmeadow, Massachusetts to start the J.H. Colton Company in 1831. Though he did not come from a cartographic or engraving background, Colton licensed copyrights from other cartographers such as David H. Burr and Samuel Stiles, producing quality reprints with additional engraving and border detail. After ten years of operating with this business model, Colton branched out to produce original maps, and by the 1850s had grown his company into a booming cartographic firm. Though the Colton Company published a variety of cartographic materials such as guidebooks and atlases, it is perhaps best known for its railroad maps. Distinguished by their elaborate decorative borders, Colton maps were printed using engraved steel plates which, though more costly than wax engravings, produced higher-quality images. These maps were then hand-colored by watercolor artists, resulting in slight irregularities which reflect the documents’ unique history and individualized production.

Notable moments in Colton’s career include winning a high-profile lawsuit against the government of Bolivia, by whom he had been hired to produce some 2,500 maps of the region in 1857. When he did not receive pay upon completing his contract, mostly due to Bolivian civil unrest, Colton took legal action and eventually received $100,000 in compensation.

Colton’s sons George Woolworth Colton (1827-1901) and Charles B. Colton (1832-1916) joined the company in the early 1850s; when the two eventually took over from their father, they renamed the firm to G.W. & C.B. Colton. A few years later in 1898, the brothers went into business with August R. Ohman, renaming the firm again to Colton, Ohman, & Co. This relationship lasted until 1901 when the Coltons left the company and Ohman took over in full, subsequently dropping the Colton name.