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1861 U.S. Coast Survey Map or Chart of the Kennebec River, Maine


Preliminary Chart of Kennebec River Main from Entrance to Bath.
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Title:    Preliminary Chart of Kennebec River Main from Entrance to Bath.

Description:    This is a beautiful example of the U.S. Coast Survey nautical chart or maritime map of the Kennebec River, Maine. It covers the Kennebec River from its entrance to the town of Bath. This extraordinarily detailed map presents rich topographical detail as well as hydrographic data. It offers countless depth soundings throughout and the left hand quadrants feature sailing instructions, notes on tides and light houses, considerable inland detail and a wealth of other practical information for the mariner. The town of Bath, Maine is rendered in particular detail.

The triangulation for this map is the work of A. W. Evans. The Topography was completed by S. A. Gilbert, R. M. Bache, I. Hull Adams, W. S. Gilbert and C. T. Jardella. The hydrography was accomplished by parties under the command of S. D. Trenchard and J. Wilkinson. As this list suggests most of the great talents of the U.S. Coast Survey had a hand in the making of this chart. The whole was compiled under the direction of A. D. Bache, Superintendent of the Survey of the Coast of the United States and one of the most influential American cartographers of the 19th century.


Date:    1861 (dated)

Source:    Bache, A. D., Report of the Superintendent of the Coast Survey, 1861.    

Cartographer:    The Office of the Coast Survey, founded in 1807 by President Thomas Jefferson and Secretary of Commerce Albert Gallatin, is the oldest scientific organization in the U.S. Federal Government. Jefferson created the "Survey of the Coast," as it was then called, in response to a need for accurate navigational charts of the new nation's coasts and harbors. The spirit of the Coast Survey was defined by its first two superintendents. The first superintendent of the Coast Survey was Swiss immigrant and West Point mathematics professor Ferdinand Hassler. Under the direction of Hassler, from 1816 to 1843, the ideological and scientific foundations for the Coast Survey were established. These included using the most advanced techniques and most sophisticated equipment as well as an unstinting attention to detail. Hassler's devised a labor intensive triangulation system whereby the entire coast was divided into a series of enormous triangles. These were intern subdivided into smaller triangulation units that were then individually surveyed. Employing this exacting technique on such a massive scale had never before been attempted. Consequently Hassler and the Coast Survey under him developed a reputation for uncompromising dedication to the principles of accuracy and excellence. Unfortunately, despite being a masterful surveyor, Hassler was abrasive and politically unpopular, twice loosing congressional funding for the Coast Survey. Nonethelss, Hassler lead the Coast Survey until his death in 1843, at which time Alexander Dallas Bache, a great-grandson of Benjamin Franklin, took the helm. Bache was fully dedicated to the principles established by Hassler, but proved more politically astute and successfully lobbied Congress liberally fund the endeavor. Under the leadership of A. D. Bache, the Coast Survey completed its most important work. Moreover, during his long tenure with the Coast Survey, from 1843 to 1865, Bache was a steadfast advocate of American science and navigation and in fact founded the American Academy of Sciences. Bache was succeeded by Benjamin Pierce who ran the Survey from 1867 to 1874. Pierce was in turn succeeded by Carlile Pollock Patterson who was Superintendent from 1874 to 1881. In 1878, under Patterson's superintendence, the U.S. Coast Survey was reorganized as the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey (C & GS or USGS) to accommodate topographic as well as nautical surveys. Today the Coast Survey is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA. Click here for a list of rare maps from the U. S. Coast Survey.

Size:   Printed area measures 17 x 30.5 inches (43.18 x 77.47 centimeters)

Scale:    1 : 40000

Condition:    Very good. Minor wear and toning over original fold lines. Backed with archival tissue. Left margin extended.

Code:   KennebecRiver-uscs-1861 (to order by phone call: 646-320-8650)

Tags:    U.S. Government Map

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