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1874 U. S. Coast Survey map of the Mississippi River Delta

Coast Chart No. 94.  Mississippi River From the Passes to Grand Prairie, Louisiana.

1874 U. S. Coast Survey map of the Mississippi River Delta


Scarce working nautical chart of the Mississippi River Delta.



Coast Chart No. 94. Mississippi River From the Passes to Grand Prairie, Louisiana.
  1874 (dated)    34 x 30 in (86.36 x 76.2 cm)     1 : 80000


The culmination of nearly 15 years of intense survey work, this is 1874 independent issue nautical chart is possibly the most attractive and dramatic map of the Mississippi River Delta to emerge from the U.S. Coast Survey. Due to the quick and dramatic changes in the Delta area due to sudden storms and hurricanes, charting the Mississippi Delta was one of the U.S. Coast Survey's most daunting tasks. The map details the course of the Mississippi River from Quarantine Bay southward to where it divides into numerous passes, bays and bayous. Names Grand Bay, Bird Island Sound, West Bay, East Bay, Garden Island Bay, Blind Bay, Bull Bay and Bay Rondo. Also offers some inland detail noting Fort Jackson, Fort St. Philip, various farms, several canals, and important lighthouses. Thousands of soundings in feet. Notes on tides, sailing instructions, and commentary on the chart appear in the upper left quadrant. The triangulation, topography and hydrography for this work is largely the work of F. H. Gerdes, Ch. H Boyd, Guthrie, and their assistants. The work of surveying the Mississippi Delta was commenced at the instigation Superintendent of the Survey A. D. Bache but not fully realized until the tenure of Benjamin Peirce. The present example has been updated and corrected to 1879. This chart is moreover noteworthy in that it is NOT one of the more common charts issued folded into the annual Superintendent's Report, rather it is a working nautical chart on thick stock mounted on original linen.


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Ferdinand H. Gerdes (September 15, 1809 - June 27, 1884) was one of the most active members of the U.S. Coast Survey team. His most important work includes several surveys of New York Harbor as well as detailed surveys of Florida, the Gulf Coast, and up the Mississippi River. Gerdes was born in Hanover, Germany (Prussia) and relocated to the United States sometime before 1836, when he joined he fledgling U.S. Coast Survey as an Sub-assistant under Hassler. From 1841 - 1844 he surveyed the New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware Bay Region. In 1844 he was assigned to the Gulf Coast, where he produced his most important and pioneering work. During the American Civil War, like most of the members of the Coast Survey, Gerdes was strongly pro-Union and worked diligently during the Civil War to provide Union commanders accurate surveying and cartographic materials. Gerdes is known to have commanded the ‘Sachem' and, during the Civil War, was heavily engaged with Union efforts to map and ultimately control, the Mississippi River. Following the war he produced detailed surveys of the Passes of the Mississippi. His health and age catching up on him, Gerdes retired to New York, where he completed additional surveys of long island as late as 1883, a year before his death.


Good. Exhibits wear common to working nautical charts. Edge wear. Mounted on old linen.
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