MAP OF / EXPLORATION AND SURVEYS / NEW MEXICO AND UTAH / made under the direction of the / SECRETARY OF WAR / by / CAPT. J. N. MACOMB TOPL ENGRS / assisted by / C. H. DIMMOCK, C. ENGR / 1860


This map extends from Pueblo, Colorado, in the east to the conjunction of the Colorado and Flax Rivers in the west, and from north of Breckenridge, Colorado, to south of Albuquerque, New Mexico, or, from about 34°45' to about 39°20' north latitude, and from about 104°50' to about 112° longitude west of Greenwich. The scale is 12 miles to the inch. A text in the lower right corner pertains to the “CENTRAL GOLD REGIONS.” It also states “A delicate tint was ruled over the whole plate to give the effect of a plaster model of the country. Constructed and engraved by BARON F. W. VON EGLOFFSTEIN Topographer to the Surveys under the 35th and 38th parallels. Frémont’s, Beckwith’s, and Ives’ Expeditions.” The texts at bottom read “Lettering by John L. Hazzard” and “Ruling by Samuel Sartain” and “[GE]OGRAPHICAL INSTITUTE, BARON F. W. VON EGLOFFSTEIN, NO. 164 BROADWAY, N. YORK. 1864”

Baron Freidrich Wilhelm Von Egloffstein (1824-1885), the topographer who compiled this map, was a German immigrant who came to the United States in 1849. He went with John C. Frémont on a winter trek from St. Louis to the Great Basin (1853-1854), seeking a rail route to the west. He joined Edward G. Beckwith on a railroad reconnaissance from Salt Lake City to California (1854). And he travelled with Joseph C. Ives up the Colorado River and across the Southern Plateau (1857-1858), on an expedition organized by the Corps of Topographical Engineers. He had not gone on the 1859 expedition led by John N. Macomb-a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy and member of the Corps of Topographical Engineers-that aimed to locate a practicable route between Santa Fe, New Mexico, and the military outposts in the southern part of Utah. But he did have access to notes compiled by those who had.

This map incorporates several important and somewhat related technological innovations, all of which Egloffstein had used, to some extent, on his chart of the “AMAKARIMA GROUP WITH PART OF LOO-CHOO” (cat. PH*317505). In order to produce a landscape that appeared remarkably realistic, Egloffstein made topographical models of plaster, and photographed them while lit from one side. In order to reproduce these images, he used the technique known as heliographic etching. Following the lead of the French photographic pioneer, Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, Egloffstein coated his steel photographic plates with a substance (such as bitumen of Judea) that hardened when exposed to light. After taking a picture, he washed away the still-soft parts of the substance, used an acid to eat away those parts of the plate that could now be seen, and printed the result. By inserting a fine mesh (or grid) between the model and the plate, he was able to print halftone images. Egloffstein was not the first to develop a photomechanical printing process-Paul Pretsch in England had organized a company for that purpose in 1854-but his contributions were important nonetheless.

Egloffstein was working on this map in 1860 and asking people in Washington about particular geographical details. He joined the Union army at the start of the Civil War, and was wounded in battle in 1862. He then established a Geographical Institute in New York. It was here that he completed the map, dated it 1864, and distributed some copies. In 1876 the map was published with the official Report of the Exploring Expedition from Santa Fe, New Mexico, to the Junction of the Grand and Green Rivers of the Great Colorado of the West.

Egloffstein included on this map information about several expeditions in addition to the above mentioned ones led by Frémont, Beckwith, Ives, and Macomb. These included a chain survey in eastern New Mexico conducted by J. C. Brown from 1825 to 1827; William W. Loring’s 1858 trek through the San Luis Valley in Colorado; Randolph B. Marcy’s 1858 trek from Utah to New Mexico; Oliver Shepherd’s trek through Arizona in 1859; John S. Simonson’s 1859 trek along the San Juan River; John G. Walker’s 1859 trek through Navajo country south of Four Corners; and Amiel W. Whipple’s 1853 trek to find a route for a transcontinental railroad.

The map is also a clear statement of American interest in and involvement with the area. Utah and New Mexico had become territories in 1850. Colorado became a territory in 1861, in the wake of the gold rush that brought prospectors and settlers to the area around Pike’s Peak. Arizona became a territory in in 1863, at a time when Southerners, who had hoped the area would be hospitable to slavery, had seceded from the Union. Some land in eastern New Mexico and Colorado had been laid out in square townships, 6 miles on a side, according to the procedures of the General Land Survey. The Mormon Settlement is shown in Utah—and, indeed, it was fear of further conflicts with the Mormons that had led the army to sponsor Macomb’s expedition.

Egloffstein also included the path taken by Silvestre Vélez de Escalante, a priest who in 1776 sought a trail from Santa Fe to the missions in California. Other Spanish names on the map include the Spanish Trail, the San Francisco Mountains, and the Sierra Abajo mountains.

Evidence of Native Americans on the map includes Mesa Verde; Moquis Pueblo (the Anglo term for Hopi) in the Painted Desert; Navajo Valley to the east of the Painted Desert; Navajo Mesa (now known as the Black Mesa) in northern Arizona; Ildefonso, Pojoaque, Zandia (aka Sandia), Zuni, and other pueblos in New Mexico; and the ruins at Chaco Canyon and elsewhere.

Evidence of military presence in the area (in addition to the paths of military surveys) includes Fort Union (in northern New Mexico), Fort Defiance (in eastern Arizona), and Fort Hill (in southwestern Colorado).

The map also shows the paths of rivers and the positions of mountains (some with elevations) and mountain passes. Geological features include the Painted Desert in Arizona, the Needles in Utah, the Leroux cold springs and the Pagosa hot springs, the Mines in the Animas River valley (site of a major gold rush in 1860), the Dolores mines of Colorado, and the Burning Coal Bed (now the Lava Beds National Monument) in northern Arizona.

Ref: Imre Josef Demhardt, “An approximation to a bird’s eye view, and is intelligible to every eye . . . Friedrich Wilhelm von Egloffstein, the Exploration of the American West, and Its First Relief Shaded Maps,” in E. Liebenberg and I. J. Demhardt, eds., History of Cartography. International Symposium of the ICA Commission, 2010 (Dordrecht, 2012), pp. 57-74.

David Hanson, “Baron Frederich Wilhelm von Egloffstein,” Printing History 15 (1993): 12-24.

Steven K. Madsden, Exploring Desert Stone: John N. McComb’s 1859 Expedition to the Canyonlands of Colorado (Logan, Utah, 2010).

Stevan Rowan, The Baron in the Grand Canyon: Friedrick Wilhelm von Egloffstein in the West (University of Missouri, 2012).

Associated Date: 186018641876

Location: Currently not on view

See more items in: Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences, Military, Transcontinental Railroad, Prints from the Physical Sciences Collection, Measuring & Mapping


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: National Archives and Records Service

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: PH.317493Catalog Number: 317493Accession Number: 230397

Object Name: map

Physical Description: paper (overall material)Measurements: overall: 31 in x 36 1/2 in; 78.74 cm x 92.71 cm


Record Id: nmah_1452107

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