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1846 Bradford Map of Delaware

Delaware. - Main View

1846 Bradford Map of Delaware


Features the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, which remains a vital link in North Atlantic trade to this day.



  1846 (dated)     15 x 12 in (38.1 x 30.48 cm)     1 : 475200


This is an 1846 Thomas G. Bradford map of Delaware. The map depicts the region from the Susquehanna River and Chesapeake Bay to New Jersey and from Pennsylvania and New Jersey to Maryland and the Atlantic Ocean.

Transportation in 1840s Delaware

A common feature of maps published in A Universal Illustrated Atlas is their focus on transportation networks. Here, the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal and the New Castle and Frenchtown Turnpike and Railroad are featured. The Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, which connects the Delaware River and the Chesapeake Bay, opened in 1829, decades after the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal Company was incorporated in 1802. The canal runs from Delaware City to the Elk River, a distance of fourteen miles. Several setbacks, disputes, and other scandals hindered construction, but the project was finally completed. The canal is still in use today and is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It provides a vial link in North Atlantic trade routes and millions of tons of cargo are transported annually through the canal.

When construction began on the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, business owners in New Castle, Delaware became concerned. They knew the new canal would pose a threat to their community and their businesses and knew that they needed to respond. They did so by chartering a railroad company. The New-Castle and Frenchtown Turnpike Company was chartered on January 24, 1809 in Delaware and soon after in Maryland and the company opened a turnpike in 1815 and 1816 from New Castle, Delaware to Old Frenchtown Wharf, Maryland, on the Chesapeake Bay. The Maryland General Assembly authorized the company to replace the turnpike with a railroad in 1828 and change its name to the New-Castle and French Town Turnpike and Rail Road Company with similar laws passed in Delaware. The two separate companies in Maryland and Delaware merged in 1830, forming the New Castle and Frenchtown Turnpike and Rail Road Company and opened their new railroad in 1831. A series of mergers occurred in the following decades, as was very common with railroad companies. Today, parts of the original New-Castle and Frenchtown route are still operated by Norfolk Southern.

Delaware is divided into three counties, as it is today, and each county is divided into hundreds (which are labeled). Hundreds were used as tax reporting and voting districts until the 1960s, but today they serve no administrative purpose and are only used in real-estate title descriptions today. Numerous cities and towns throughout the state and the region are labeled, including Dover, Delaware City, and Wilmington. Both Delaware Bay and Chesapeake Bay are labeled, along with the Delaware River.

This map was drawn by Fielding Lucas Jr., engraved by George Boynton, and published in the 1846 edition of Bradford and Goodrich's A Universal Illustrated Atlas.


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