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1873 U.S. Coast Survey Map of the Aleutian Islands, Alaska

Sketch of the Aleutian Islands to Illustrate Appendix No. 11. - Main View

1873 U.S. Coast Survey Map of the Aleutian Islands, Alaska


The first U.S. Coast Survey chart of the Aleutian Islands.


Sketch of the Aleutian Islands to Illustrate Appendix No. 11.
  1873 (dated)     15 x 26.5 in (38.1 x 67.31 cm)


This unusual map is the U.S. Coast Survey's first significant mapping of the Aleutian Islands following the 1867 acquisition of the Alaska territory from Russia. The map covers the Aleutian Archipelago from Atta Island to Unimak Island and extends far enough north to include the Pribiloff Islands. Identifies each major island in the archipelago as well as important island groups, such as the 'Islands of Four Mountains' and notable naval passes, such as the Amukhta Pass. There are numerous but hardly exhaustive soundings illustrative of the embryonic state of the survey in this region. Produced under the supervision of Benjamin Peirce, Superintendent of the U.S. Coast Survey.


The Office of the Coast Survey (1807 - present) 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 devised a labor intensive triangulation system whereby the entire coast was divided into a series of enormous triangles. These were in turn 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 losing congressional funding for the Coast Survey. Nonetheless, Hassler led 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 to 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) to accommodate topographic as well as nautical surveys. Today the Coast Survey is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA as the National Geodetic Survey. More by this mapmaker...


Report of the Superintendent of the United States Coast Survey, Washington, (1873 edition).    


Good. Light overall toning. Verso reinforcement and toning on original fold lines. Blank on verso. Paper extremely brittle.


University of Alaska Fairbanks, Elmer E. Rasmuson Library, Alaska and Polar Regions Collections, UAF-M0106.