Lederer’s Lake, Desert, and Savanna – An Early Exploration of Carolina

1676 Speed Map of Carolina based on Lederer's Discoveries

1676 Speed Map of Carolina based on Lederer's Discoveries

The first serious mapping of the Carolina Colony’s interior was accomplished in the 1670s by the intrepid German explorer and physician John Lederer on the commission of Virginia Governor Berkley. Lord Berkley, like many Europeans at the time, believed that the Pacific could be reached by traveling westward from the Atlantic Coast no more than two weeks. Lederer was commissioned to find this path.

Pre-Lederer maps of Carolina tended to be vague at best, incorporating semi-fictional elements from both the De Bry – Le Monye map of Florida and the De Bry – White map of the Grand Banks. Lederer’s explorations changed all of this, describing the interior for both future explorers and for the map publishers in Europe. The mapping of Carolina was heavily influenced by Lederer’s work with elements of it appearing on maps of the region for the next 60 years.

Today Lederer’s explorations and discoveries are highly criticized and considered by some to be outright fabrications. The narrative of Lederer’s three journeys consists of no more than 35 short pages and a map drawn by the man himself. Nonetheless, the text expresses much of the man’s character. He is determined, brave, honest and humble. We must agree with his friend and compatriot, Sir William Talbot, who describes him as “a modest ingenious person and a pretty scholar.” Further, Lederer’s narrative and his map are sufficiently accurate on a number of counts, including the course of several important rivers, the orientation of the Appellation Mountains, the identification of certain mountain passes, and the placement American Indian villages, that there can be little doubt Lederer truly passed through this region. Why then, is his significant contribution to cartography so heavily criticized?

It comes down to three seemingly anomalous elements that appear both in Lederer ‘s narrative and in his map: the Deserta Arenosa, Ushery Lake, and a great savanna in the piedmont region. We will attempt to examine each of these both individually and in the context of his greater voyage.

Close up of the Arenosa Desert from John Speed's Map

Close up of the Arenosa Desert from John Speed's Map

The most easily tackled is the Deserta Arenosa. Lederer encounters this desert on the return portion of his second journey. He describes it as “a barren Sandy Desert where I suffered miserably for want of water; the heat of the summer having drunk all of the springs dry,” and he surely would have died there had he not “found a standing pool, which provident nature set round with shady oaks, to defend it from the ardor of the sun.”

The Sand Hills Region Outlined in Red

The Sand Hills Region Outlined in Red

To us this seems to be a not-inaccurate description of the Sand Hill region during a dry summer. And indeed, by comparing our example map from 1676 with a modern detailing the Sand Hills region, we can easily see that the Arenosa directly overlays the Sand Hills.

Lederer’s description of a large savanna has long been one of the strongest attacks used against him. Lederer encounters the savanna on his third journey and describes it thusly:

These Savannae are low grounds at the foot of the Apalataeans, which all the Winter, Spring, and part of the Summer lie under snow or water, when the snow is dissolved, which falls down from the Maintains commonly about the beginning of June, and then their verdure is wonderful pleasant to the eye, especially of such as having traveled through the shade of the vast Forest, come out of a clear and open skie.

By the late 18th and early 19th century much of this savanna had largely disappeared. Many 19th and 20th century historians were locked into the convention that, prior to settlement by white man, that the region was covered by a vast primeval forest. This could not be farther from the truth. The historian, William Henry Foote describes this area as it existed in before 1750,

Extensive tracts of county between the Yadkin and the Catawba, now waving with thrifty forests, then were covered with tall grass, with scarce a bush or shrub, looking at first view as if immense grazing farms had been at once abandoned, the houses disappearing, and the abundant grass luxuriating in its native wildness and beauty, the wild herds wandering at pleasure, and nature rejoicing in undisturbed quietness.

We also know from historic records and fossil evidence that buffalo once wandered in this region on a short time before it was settled by colonials. The map scholar Cummings also supports this view, “It is certainly probable that before the forest land was denuded and the top soil washed away, the Piedmont may have had marshy sections, which have since largely disappeared”. In this light, the savanna described by Lederer, if anything is the strongest evidence to his veracity, rather than the opposite.

The lake that Lederer calls Ushery is possibly his most enduring legacy as well his most damning. We must first remember that Lederer did not invent this lake – it had in fact been on maps of the region for over 100 years!

Lederer's Savanna

Lederer's Savanna

Our earlier blog post on the “Great Sweet Water Lake of the Southeast” discusses and explains the history of this lake in more detail. Lederer claims to have not only discovered the lake, but to have actually sampled its waters. Lederer’s validation of this lake kept it on maps of the region well into the 1780s!

Now why? Lederer, as a learned man, would no doubt have been familiar with the many maps issued prior to his expedition, aware of, and even expecting to discover the Lactus Aquae Dulce. No doubt had Lederer returned and not discovered the lake, his explorations would have been more highly criticized in his time and may never have found their way into the cartographic corpus. Many have suggested that Lederer was conscious of this and simply added the lake to his narrative in order to validate the greater substance of his work. We find this supposition highly contrary to the humble and truthful character appearing elsewhere in the narrative.

Still others suggest that Lederer actually turned back without seeing the lake and then added the lake based upon a misinterpretation of American Indian descriptions of the wave-like undulations of the Blue Ridge mountains. This is plausible especially given that Lederer makes a similar mistake elsewhere with regard to the land of the Rickohockans “who dwell westward of the Apalataean Mountains, are seated upon a land, as they term it, of great waves (the Blue Ridge Mountains), by which I suppose they mean the seashore.” While we do believe this idea has merit, it again strikes us as odd and against Lederer’s character to lie.

Lake Ushery renamed after Lord Ashley by John Ogilby.

Lake Ushery renamed after Lord Ashley by John Ogilby.

More likely Lake Ushery is a case of “seek and ye shall find”. That is, since Lederer no doubt expected to discover the lake, it was easier to interpret what he did find as what he expected to see. Lyman Carrier explores this idea in his excellent analysis of Lederer’s travels. Carrier maps Lederer’s lake in either the Yadkin or Catawba Valley. Lyman writes, “Had the rivers been obstructed by beaver dames or debris, or had the channels through some of their gorges not been cut to their present levels, large areas of flooded land would have resulted.” While this may seem farfetched, we feel that the expectation of a lake combined with the discovery of a large flooded area, may have led to easy misinterpretation.

In general we find Lederer’s narrative to be truthful if limited in its scope. The errors that he did make are easily understood given the trials he faced. He had no reliable way to measure distance, no shared language with his American Indian guides, and only limited experience as a cartographer or surveyor. Moreover, it was nearly 50 years before other explorers contributed significantly to the knowledge of this region. For lack of contrary information from other explores, Lederer’s errors, which are surprisingly few, enjoyed considerable longevity.



REF: Carrier, L.,”The Veracity of John Lederer”, William and Mary Quarterly, Series II, Vol. 19, No. 4, p. 435 – 445. Talbot, W., The Discoveries of John Lederer…, 1672. Cumming, W., “Geographical Misconceptions of the Southeast in the Cartography of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries”, The Journal of Southern History, Vol. 4, No. 4., pp. 476-492. Cunz, Dieter, “John Lederer: Significance and Evaluation”, The William and Mary Quarterly, Series II, Vol. 22, No. 2, pp. 175-185. The North Carolina State Archives, MC.150.1676s;MARS Id: Phillips (America), p. 817. Cumming, W. P., The Southeast in Early Maps, #77. Goss, J., The Mapping of North America, Three Centuries of Map-Making 1500-1860, 41. Foote, W. H., Sketches of North Carolina, historical and biographical, 1847, p. 180.

The Confederate Territory of “Arrizona” (Arizona)

1862 Johnson's Map of the American Southwest

1862 Johnson's Map of the American Southwest

In 1861 “Arrizona” was an alternate name for the lands added to the New Mexico territory by the 1854 Gadsden Purchase. With only a small population and minimal political influence this region was largely ignored by the New Mexico territorial government in distant Sante Fe. Bandits, hostile American Indian tribes, and outlaws ran rampant as only token effort was made by the New Mexico territorial government to police the region. The loosely organized inhabitants of southern New Mexico, or Arizona as it was being called, sent several appeals to Washington D.C. to be granted independent territorial status, but its low population caused the request to be repeatedly denied. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Arizonans saw an opportunity to appeal to an alternate body for the political needs of the region and through their lot in with the secessionist southern states. Around this time the Union began to withdraw troops from the region in fear that Sante Fe would be attacked by Confederate soldiers operating out of Texas. In Texas itself Col. John Robert Baylor, recognizing a strategic opportunity, led his troops into Southern Arizona. In a series of brilliant tactical maneuvers, Baylor defeated the much larger Union garrison and seized Fort Fillmore and Messilla. Shortly thereafter Baylor declared himself Territorial Governor of the Confederate Territory of Arizona including “all that portion of New Mexico lying south of the thirty-fourth parallel of north latitude.”

Johnson's 1866 Map of the Southwest

Johnson's 1866 Map of the Southwest

The Confederate Territory of Arizona lasted less than a year before it was seized by the Union Army and dismantled in favor of the current configuration with the Arizona – New Mexico border situated along a north-south axis. Some have suggested that the current border between Arizona and New Mexico was chosen for no other reason than that it differed from the Confederate border. However, it is far more likely that this border was influenced by the prospect of a Southern Pacific railroad route. If the Confederate boundaries had remained the railroad would have would have run only through Arizona, thus denying New Mexico the political and business opportunities that would have inevitably followed. A longitudinal border, however, allowed both territories to be enriched by the Southern Pacific Railroad.

Related Posts: The Proposed Routes of the Pacific Railroad in Antique Maps

How are value and price of antique or rare maps determined?

There are numerous factors which affect the value of antique maps – all those you might suspect and many you might not. Like most antiques, antique map prices are usually governed by factors of rarity, condition, desirability, and aesthetics. The best maps have high rankings in all of these areas, however, it is not uncommon for one factor to dominate all others.

For example, take these two equally fine maps: an 1849 Mitchell’s Map of Texas is not particularly more rare than an 1849 Mitchell’s map of Switzerland, however, the first may sell for as much as 1000 USD while the second will rarely sell for more than 150 USD. This happens because maps of Texas are highly desirable and have a large collector base while maps of Switzerland, particularly American maps, are difficult to sell. Conversely, that same 1000 USD map of Texas may be rendered all but worthless by a hugely disfiguring dampstain and unprofessional backing on wood or cardboard.

Other factors unique to antique maps can also hugely affect value. Maps that fall into this category include maps that depict special regions of the world at important, brief or transitional moments. Two excellent examples are maps that depict Australia as New Holland and maps that depict Texas as an independent republic (c. 1863 to 1845). Cartographic errors are also factors that can increase the value of an antique map. Some of these include the depiction of California as an Island (c. 1600 to 1720), the indication of a huge lake in the Carolinas, the Mountains of the Moon in Africa, assumed Northwest Passages, and the presence of certain mythical geographical features such as Aurora Island (near the Falklands) or El Dorado in the Amazon.

How the map was printed and presented also factors heavily in value. Generally speaking there are three was to present flat maps: atlas maps, folding maps pocket or case maps, and wall maps.

  • Atlas maps are the most common and are generally speaking the least valuable. Most atlas maps are in very good condition due to the fact that they have been bound between protective covers for most of the lives. However, there are several problems common to atlas maps. Most were issued with a centerfold and this commonly exhibits wear, damage, and discoloration. Atlas maps, especially those at the beginning and ends of the atlas, also frequently suffer from soiling, creasing due to improper folding and earmarking, and water stains due to storage in damp unfavorable conditions.
  • Folding maps include maps that were folded into books, case maps, and pocket maps. Maps that were folded into histories, travel guides, and specialty books are the most common type of folding map. These are often reissues of atlas maps that have been printed on thinner paper or slightly modified to deliver the book’s message. Pocket or Case maps are independently issued maps and are, in most cases, far more valuable than atlas maps or standard folding maps. These maps are usually folded into cases for easy transport. They are often printed on very thin paper were sometimes split into sections and mounted on linen for easy folding and unfolding. Though often in rough condition due to the rigors of their use and the stresses of being folding for hundreds of years, these maps are frequently much larger and more valuable than their atlas counterparts.
  • Wall maps are enormous maps usually produced for presentation or classroom settings. Most are stored rolled on large wooden dowels. A good wall map can fetch a very high price but is often very difficult to sell as its size alone makes it a specialty item. Also, because of the production techniques and storage problems common to wall maps, they often suffer severe damage and almost always require professional restoration prior to being placed on the market. Good restoration can add quite a bit to the total value of an antique wall map.


In addition to the factors above, map connoisseurs are fortunate to have access to roughly thirty years of auction history and dealer catalogs through various subscription based services. Many dealers, such as ourselves, also provide a range of fee based appraisal services.

Related Products:
Basic Antique Map Appraisal

Antique Map of the Week: 1768 Holland / Jeffreys Map of New York and New Jersey

1768 Holland Jeffreys Map of New York & New Jersey

1768 Holland Jeffreys Map of New York & New Jersey

The Provinces of NEW YORK and NEW JERSEY with part of PENSILVANIA, and the Governments of TROIS RIVIERES, and MONTREAL. A first issue first edition example of a seminal map. This is a rare and unusual version of the 1768 first edition of Holland and Jefferys seminal map of New York and New Jersey. Depicts the important trade corridor between New York and Montreal, specifically detailing from Delaware Bay northward including parts of eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Long Island, New York Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont as well as the Iroquois League, the Trois Rivieres territories and Montreal, as far as Lac St. Pierre in modern day Quebec. Lower right quadrant features a pictorial title cartouche showing the Hudson River.

This extraordinary map is unusual on many levels in addition to its status as the first edition first state of an extremely rare and important map. Unlike most examples, this map is in an independent issue and has no suggestion that it may have been bound into an atlas. Instead it is linen backed in wall map format. Secondly, though most examples of this map, even other first editions, show the New York-New Jersey border much where it is today, our example was colorized to show the line running considerably south of its currently location – a rarity which can be seen in only three other known examples. While we would not describe this as a different state, as the essential engraving is the same as was used in other 1868 editions, the difference in coloration is fascinating, unusual, and bears attention. This requires a bit of explanation:

Much of the cartography for this map was derived from the work of surveyor Samuel Holland produced in his roles as New York – New Jersey boundary commissioner and later as “Surveyor of the Northern District” for the Board of Trade which governed the crown colonies in America. As this map was being prepared a fierce legal battle raged between the colonies of New York and New Jersey regarding the position of their western border.

The dispute between the New York and New Jersey regarding their western border was long standing and complex. New Jersey contended that its northern border accorded with the findings of a survey issued in 1719, which extended the border northward as far as Station Point, well north of the current line. New York, on the other hand, contended for a southerly border based upon surveys performed in 1686. The Board of Trade commissioned Samuel Holland to create a map of this disputed region. Holland’s work resulted in a manuscript map , now lost, that was submitted to the Board of Trade in England. Holland, who favored New York, argued that the original crown charter defining the New York and New Jersey border was based upon intersecting lines referencing a branching of the Delaware River and the old divide between East and West Jersey. This would put much of what is today northern New Jersey firmly in New York. The dispute was finally settled in 1768 by agreement to a compromised line roughly where it stands today – note 1768 is the same year that Jefferys engraved this map.

In his role as Geographer to the King, Jefferys would have had access to the Holland maps which were prepared for the Board of Trade and sent to London. It is likely that Jefferys used these materials, along with the works of Evans and Colden to compile this much grander map. As the official Royal Geographer, Jefferys would not have been required to ask permission to use any of these materials and indeed, as Powell suggests, it is likely that the “Name of Capt. Holland is put, without his Knowledge or Consent”.

Most likely, Jefferys ordered the peculiar coloration of this map, which follows the southern border NY-NJ border following recommendations in Holland’s notes. Holland advocated for the southerly border that we see colorized here. Probably this is a preliminary state of the map, printed sometime early in 1768, before the compromise boundary was formalized. We have been able to identify only three other examples of this map with the same New York-New Jersey border coloration. One example rests in the Library at Harvard University, another is located in the New York Public Library in New York, and a final example in the New York State Library in Albany. Other examples of the first edition, including those held by the Library of Congress follow the line of the 1868 compromised border.

Holland’s work is also evident in the detailing of New York’s land grants to Vermont and the excellent detail offered in the Albany area.

Notes forts and military installations along the Hudson and elsewhere. Though surprisingly accurate in reference to the heavily populated part of New York and New Jersey, accuracy falls off considerably in the west and in the American Indian regions to the North. Jefferys also notes the influence of other cartographers including Evans, Bond, Morris, and of course Holland.

In the years to follow this important map would go through several subsequent revisions and reissues. The most notable later version is the 1775 Sayer and Bennett atlas issue of the map, which is somewhat common. Our issue, the first state of the 1768 first edition, has not appeared on the market in the last 30 years.

The original owner of this map, whose bookplate is on the verso, appears to have been William Lyon of New Haven Connecticut. In 1775 Lyon was a Lieutenant in the Continental Army who is recorded as serving in Boston. A gravestone near New Haven Connecticut bears his name and the rank of colonel. It is conceivable that Lyon examined this very map to plan strategies during his time of service with the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War.

For More Information: http://www.geographicus.com/P/AntiqueMap/NewYorkNewJersey-sayer-1768

Allen, David Y., “Comparing Eighteenth-Century Map of New York State Using Digital Imagery”, http://www.nymapsociety.org/FEATURES/ALLEN.HTM.

Schwarz, Philip J., The Jarring Interests New York’s Boundary Makers, 1664-1776 p. 133 – 190.

Tooley, R. V. The Mapping of America, #44. Library of Congress, G3800 1768 .H6 Vault (1868 edition).

New York Public Library, Map Div. 97-6176 [LHS 815], Map Div. 01-5334 (similar NJ-NY border).

Phillips, Maps of America, p. 502; Phillips 1196. McCorkle (#768.3, 775.6, 776.13).

Sellers & van Ee (#1039-40, 1042-43, 1045-46).

Ristow, Walter W., American Maps and Mapmakers, page 52.

Baraku Villages in Old Japanese Maps – and Google Earth

c. 1850 Map of Edo or Tokyo

c. 1850 Map of Edo or Tokyo

Google has recently been the subject of a major backlash from the Japanese government, Burakumin equal rights groups, and the Japanese Press regarding its addition of a collection of rare 18th and 19th century Japanese maps of Tokyo or Edo to the Google Earth service. The Burakumin are a social minority group labeled as “outcasts” under old Japanese caste system. This system, which dates to the early days of the feudal shogun era, identified the Burakumin as “untouchable” due to their employment in death related professions such as gravediggers, undertakers, embalmers and leather workers. Burakumin were believed to have been “tainted by death” and thus unlucky. Though the caste system was legally abolished in 1871, Japan is a deeply traditional society and discrimination remains an issue to this day. The remarkable Japanese family registry or Koseki makes it easy for companies and individuals to track families back over 100 years, thus identifying the modern descendents of the Buraku. Today many large and prominent Japanese corporations actively discriminate against the descendents of Burakumin. Further, residents known to reside in old Buraku districts in the massive Tokyo urban zone are similarly discriminated against.

When Google added a collection of stunning woodblock maps from the Berkley Collection to its Google Earth project by overlaying them with modern satellite views, the locations of several previously unremarked Buraku villages came to light. Some are located in high profile and wealthy central neighborhoods, such as the “Eta” village just a few blocks from the Asakusa district. Residents fear that the satellite overlays and relative availability on this information on Google Earth will enflame a new wave discriminatory activities against the Buraku.

Berkley, Google, and prominent map collector David Rumsey, whose combined efforts are responsible for the Google Earth images, responded by editing out many of the references to Buraku villages, but publicly stated that they would be willing to reinstate them as historical documents. Personally, I agree, these maps are historically important and reflect a reality of life in feudal Japan. Modern discrimination against Buraku villages and those who are descended from the Burakumin is a contemporary issue and must consequently be dealt with in contemporary ways. Hiding or obscuring history does little to solve or resolve modern prejudices.

Over the years we have had the privilege of owning many stunning Japanese woodblock maps of Edo (Tokyo), Osaka, Kyoto, and many other important Japanese cities. These maps are masterful constructions of unparalleled beauty and should available for everyone to appreciate.

Related Maps:


REF: http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20090505a1.html

The Proposed Routes of the Pacific Railroad in Antique Maps

Johnson's 1866 Map of the Southwest

Johnson's 1866 Map of the Southwest

Many mid 19th century maps of the American west show several “proposed routes” for a transcontinental Pacific Railroad. The challenge was in finding a practical and economical route through or around the Rocky Mountains, the Great Basin, and the Sierra Nevada Range. The development of the Pacific Railroad was fraught with challenges relating to slavery, politics, geography and gigantic egos. The powers at the time were keenly aware of the wealth and prosperity that would follow the Railroad. The powerful Illinois senator Stephan Douglas who famously lost his presidential bid to Abraham Lincoln advocated for a northern route via Chicago. On the other side of the debate, Mississippi plantation owner and Secretary of War Jefferson Davis advocated for a southern route from Vicksburg Mississippi roughly following the 32nd parallel. Other powers advocated for a extreme northerly route roughly following the Canadian border and terminating near Seattle, Washington. Still others pushed for a more central route. In 1853 the government ordered several expeditions and eventually five potential routes were surveyed:

  1. The Stevens Route: Governor Isaac Stevens was a brave, handsome, and egotistical West Point valedictorian with a distinguished military record in the Mexican American War. He was a fierce advocate of Franklin Pierce’s presidential campaign and following the victorious election, was awarded for his support by being named Governor of the newly created Washington Territory. As a veteran of the U.S. Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Coast Survey, Stevens was keenly aware of the pressing need of a transcontinental railroad to unite the rapidly expanding nation. As he traveled westward toward Olympia, Washington, the seat of this territorial government, Stevens surveyed what he believed was the best and most practical route for the Pacific Railroad. Starting from St. Paul Minnesota, Stevens surveyed and proposed a route that roughly followed 47th – 49th parallels westward to terminated at the Puget Sound. He boasted that the harsh winter conditions of the northern territories would “not present the slightest impediment to the passage of railroad trains”. To this the expedition’s naturalist George Stuckley responded, responded, “A road might be built over the tops of the Himalayan mountains – but no reasonable man would undertake it.” Though the Stevens route appears on many early maps, it was not seriously entertained by any respective party other than Stevens himself. Following Steven’s death in 1862 during the Civil War Battle of Chantilly, the campaign for a far northern route lost it only champion and consequently its momentum.
  2. The Whipple Route: Amiel Weeks Whipple was an American Military Engineer, West Point graduate, and U.S. Coast Survey veteran. Whipple was commissioned to explore a possible route for the transcontinental Pacific Railway along the 35th Parallel. Leaving from Fort Smith, Arkansas, Whipple surveyed a route that passed through modern day Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico and Arizona before crossing the Mojave Desert and terminating at San Bernardino. Despite Whipple’s assertion that, “there is not a doubt remaining that for construction of a railway the route we have passed over is not only practicable but in many respects eminently advantageous,” this route never attained popularity due to lack of serious support by the political luminaries of the period. Like Stevens, Whipple died while serving as Brigadier General in the Civil War.
  3. The Parke-Pope Route: An extreme southerly route for the Pacific Railroad running along the 32nd parallel and terminating in San Diego was always a strong contender. Under the Presidency of Franklin Pierce and advocated by Jefferson Davis, the feasibility of this route strongly influenced the Gadsden Purchase. The route was finally surveyed by Lieutenant John G. Parke and Captain John Pope. Starting from opposite extremes Parke and Pope worked toward each other and finally met near El Paso. Parke, starting from San Diego surveyed a route that roughly corresponded to the southern U.S. Mail route, passing south of the Salton Basin and crossing the Colorado River at Fort Yuma then heading east to Tucson and Fort Fillmore, and onwards to El Paso. Pope Started at Fort Belknap, Texas, crossed the Staked Plain and the Guadeloupe Mountain to meet Park near El Paso. Though highly feasible and supported by powerful government leaders, the outbreak of the American Civil War and the comparative poverty of the Confederacy put a halt to plans for the southernmost route. However, years after the fact, in 1877, this railroad, called the Southern Pacific, did materialize.
    1855 Gunnison-Beckwith Survey

    1855 Gunnison-Beckwith Survey

  4. The Gunnison Route: In 1853 the Corps of Topographic Engineers was commissioned by Congress to identify a central route. Led by Captain John W. Gunnison, with Lieutenant E. G. Beckwith as his assistant commander, the expedition set off on May 3rd of 1953 from St. Louis, Missouri. The expedition roughly followed the 38th parallel and the route traversed by “The Pathfinder” John Fremont in the 1830s. Gunnison pushed the expedition through Kansas and Colorado well into the land claimed by the Ute Nation. Near Lake Sevier Gunnison’s camp was attacked by Ute Warriors who believed that a transcontinental railroad would infringe upon their sovereignty. Gunnison and most of his men were killed. Gunnison’s wife advocated the belief that the Ute Warriors were encouraged by Bringham Young and several militant Mormon settlers in the region. Having camped elsewhere, Gunnison’s second E.G. Beckwith, took command of the remaining expedition and retreated to Salt Lake City, where they spent the winter.
  5. The Beckwith Route: E. G. Beckwith, continuing westward from Salt Lake City in 1854, surveyed a route across the Great Basin, passing south of the Mud Lakes, to the Sierra Nevada Mountains which he crossed at “Beckwith’s Pass” thus descending into the Sacramento Valley. Beckwith composed a series of reports on this proposed route ultimately offering three variants. The northernmost route crosses the Green River near Black’s Fork and continues past Fort Bridger (now Wyoming) and along the Weber River to Ogden City where it turns south. The middle route leaves the Wasatch Mountains via Timpanogas Canyon. The southernmost route runs westward from the Oquirrh Mountains. The northernmost route, which was advocated by Beckwith in his report, was chosen and it is roughly along this path that the transcontinental railroad was eventually built.

Following the expeditions the decision regarding ultimate route of the Pacific Railroad was deadlocked in congress between the southern states, who preferred the Parke-Pope route, and the northern states, who advocated for a central route. The issue was finally decided by the outbreak of the American Civil War. The Confederacy, lacking the finances and industry of the north, was not in a position to pursue their dream of a southerly Pacific Railroad. The Union on the other hand quickly pushed forward with their plans for a railroad roughly along the Gunnison-Beckwith route. The Pacific Railroad officially opened in 1867.

Related Maps:






REF: Golay, M. and Bowman, J. S., North American Exploration, p. 371-2.

Antique Map of the Week – Kircher’s 1665 Map of the World

1665 Kircher Map of the World

1665 Kircher Map of the World

Entitled Tabula Geographico-Hydrographica Motus Oceani, Currentes, Abyssos, Montes Igniuomus in Universo Orbe Indicans Notat Haec Fig. Abyssos Montes Vulcanios, this is an exceptionally interesting map of the world by the scholar Athanasius Kircher. This is most likely the first world map to depict the oceans currents. Shows the entire world in accordance with Kircher’s hydro-geographic theory that tides and currents are caused by water moving to and from a massive subterranean ocean. Kircher postulated that water entered and exited the subterranean ocean via a number of great abysses situated around the globe. This map expounds on Kircher’s theories by noting the abysses and the currents they create as well as the locations of the world’s known volcanoes. Between the Mediterranean Sea, the Black Sea, the Caspian Sea, and the Persian Gulf, Kircher theorized massive tunnels and a complex interchange of water flows. These tunnels are noted most particularly between the Black and Caspian Sea and between the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf.

Other areas of interest – Antarctica is shown along the southern part of the map. In the North a great open northwest passage is depicted running all the way across the map. Shows New Guinea and a suggestion of Australia attached to the “Australsis Incognita” mainland. Africa is shown with considerably greater accuracy than many maps drawn hundreds of years later – particularly with regard to Niger and Nile River Systems. North America and South America are both wildly malformed, indicating a relatively sketchy knowledge of the continent. Korea is shown as an Island and Japan appears as only a single island.He’s left behind a large influence in today’s society in religion, film, and pop fashion (this gold Jesus chain in jewelry, for example).

For more information: http://www.geographicus.com/P/AntiqueMap/GeoHydro-kircher-1665

Lacus Aquae Dulces or Lake Apalachy – The Great Sweet Water Lake of the Southeast

The 1606 Mercator Map of the Southeast

The 1606 Mercator Map of the Southeast - this map was the first place Le Moyne's fresh water lake north of Florida and established the precident of mapping in there for the next 100 years.

1564 Le Monye Map of Florida

1564 Le Monye Map of Florida

Lacus Aquae Dulces – Many students of rare maps of the American southeast will notice a large lake or inland sea of this name or something similar roughly located in what is today Georgia or South Carolina. This curious geographic feature, first seen in Le Moyne’s map of Florida drawn in 1565, persisted until the early 18th century. In later maps, it was associated with the Apalache Indians and the Apalache (Appalachian Mountains Mountain Range where it was consequently renamed Lake Apalache. With a nearly 200 year history, Lacus Aquae Dulces is one of the more interesting and enduring errors in the early mapping of North America.

Detail of Le Moyne's Map of Florida

Detail of Le Moyne's Map of Florida

The curious story of this lake begins with Jacques Le Moyne who was part of an ill-fated French Huguenot effort to colonize the mainland of North America in the mid 16th century. Le Moyne was commissioned to sketch the local inhabitants and map as much of the land as possible. In his short time in the New World, Le Moyne’s important map of Florida is an impressive achievement. Despite a few irregularities and a pronounced longitudinal distortion, it is a remarkably accurate. For our purposes, we need to focus on the Lacus Auqae Dulces, which Le Moyne locates in central Florida as the source of the River May or today’s St. John’s River. Le Moyne maps the River May with a rough approximation of accuracy as an inverted V flowing north from Lake George, the true and original Lacus Aquae Dulces, and then in a southwesterly direction into the Atlantic.

1671 Ogilby's Map of Virginia & Carolina

1671 Ogilby's Map of Virginia & Carolina

Actual Course of the River May or St. John River

Actual Course of the River May or St. John River

Back in Europe, most cartographers followed Le Moyne’s model until the 1606 Hondius edition of Mercator’s Atlas in which the lake and the river were transposed far to the north. How and why this happened is something of a mystery, but we can speculate. We know that many maps of this region made in the 16th and 17th century frequently placed latitude lines up to 20 degrees to the north. These errors can be associated with magnetic variation, temperature issues associated with isothermal lines, and navigational errors related to the erroneous confusion of the star Asfick with Polaris. While Le Moyne

Actual Course of the Savannah River

Actual Course of the Savannah River

correctly located the mouth of the River May at 30 degrees of Latitude, Hondius maps it between 31 and 32 degrees. This led to a misassociation of the River May with the Savannah River. Thus, while the River May dips southward, the Savannah River heads almost directly NW into the Appalachian Mountains, forming the modern southern border of South Carolina. Hondius, no doubt taking his cue from navigators who rarely trekked inland, therefore rerouted the May River to flow from the northwest. Without an accurate picture if the interior, Hondius followed Le Moyne’s example and translocated the great freshwater lake to the north. The influence of the Mercator-Hondius firm was so pronounced in Europe that most subsequent cartographers followed their lead. Lactus Aquae Dulces appeared in maps by Jansson, Laet, Janszoon, Blaeu, Allard, Ogilby, Speed, Homann and others well into the 18th century. In the 1670s the German explorer John Lederer, probably the first European to actually enter this region, claims to have actually seen and sampled the water of this mysterious lake, which he called Ashley. While Lederer’s claim is undoubtedly false, as the lake does not exist, it is unclear why he chose to lie. Quite possible Lederer’s motivation was merely to validate and enhance the importance of his own discoveries. Around 1730 surveyors and other frontiersmen exploring the region added to the cartographic corpus and, failing to identify a major lake in this region, influenced its removal from most subsequent maps.

True, David O., “Some Early Maps Relating to Florida”, Imago Mundi, Vol. 11 (1954), pp. 73-84.
Cumming, W. P., “Geographical Misconceptions of the Southeast in the Cartography of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries”, The Journal of Southern History, Vol. 4, No. 4 (Nov., 1938), pp. 476-492.

Laguna de los Xarayes in Rare Maps

The Lake of Xarayes

The Lake of Xarayes

The Laguna de los Xaraies is a large and mysterious lake that appeared in maps of South America from about 1600 to 1850. The Laguna, located near Matte Grosso, was often associated with the gateway to the Amazon, legends of El Dorado, and the Earthly Paradise.

The Xarayes, a corruption of “Xaraiés” meaning “Masters of the River”, were an indigenous people occupying what is today parts of Brazil’s Matte Grosso and the Pantanal. When Spanish and Portuguese explorers first navigated up the Paraguay River, as always in search of El Dorado, they encountered the vast Pantanal flood plain at the height of its annual inundation. Understandably misinterpreting the flood plain as a gigantic inland sea, they named it after the local inhabitants, the Xaraies. The Laguna de los Xarayes almost immediately began to appear on early maps of the region and, at the same time, almost immediately took on a legendary aspect. Later missionaries and chroniclers, particularly Díaz de Guzmán, imagined an island in this lake and curiously described it as an “Island of Paradise,”

…an island [of the Paraguay River] more than ten leagues [56 km] long, two or three [11-16 km] wide. A very mild land rich in a thousand types of wild fruit, among them grapes, pears and olives: the Indians created plantations throughout, and throughout the year sow and reap with no difference in winter or summer, … are the Indians of that island are of good will and are friends to the Spaniards; Orejón they call

A view of the Pantanal.

A view of the Pantanal.

them, and they have their ears pierced in which are wheels of wood … which occupy the entire hole. They live in round houses, not as a village, but each apart though keep up with each other in much peace and friendship. They called of old to this island paradise Terrenal by its abundance and wonderful qualities.

To this north of this wonderful “Island of Paradise” appeared the “Puerto de los Reyes” which was considered by many to be a gateway to the Amazon and the Kingdom of El Dorado. Sadly, later explorers, in addition to being disappointed by the absence of an El Dorado, also discovered that the Paraguay River does not connect to the Amazon system.

Introduction – Blogging on Cartographic Curiosities and on Life as an Antique & Rare Map Dealer

Welcome to my antique map blog. I am, obviously, a rare map enthusiast. I am also the owner of Geographicus Rare and Antique Maps, a mostly online antique map gallery specializing in rare and vintage maps of the 15th through the 19th centuries. Possibly the best aspect of being an antique map dealer is the opportunity to explore and study my individual offerings. I am proud that my rare map listings at, www.geographicus.com, are among the most detailed and thoroughly researched studies of our individual offerings available anywhere.

Quite frequently, while preparing this research on some seemingly minor map element, I make a discovery that leads to a whirlwind of research and mass of data that, though it enriches my antique map offerings, overflows the coffers of that humble venue. I have started this blog in order to provide an outlet for these interesting rare map studies. Thank you for reading.

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