1870 Currier and Ives Lithograph View of a Railroad Heading to San Francisco

Through to the Pacific. - Main View

1870 Currier and Ives Lithograph View of a Railroad Heading to San Francisco


First sight of the Pacific on the Central Pacific.


Through to the Pacific.
  1870 (dated)     9 x 12.5 in (22.86 x 31.75 cm)


This is an 1870 Currier and Ives lithograph celebrating the arrival of the Central Pacific Railroad on the West Coast - San Francisco is in the background. This is one of Currier and Ives' most iconic small-format views.
A Closer Look
The view looks west towrads San Francisco Bay and the Pacific. In the foreground, the Central Pacfic steams through a verdant river valley towards the distant city. The midground is dominated by a bustling frontier town, possibly intended to represent Sacramento. Loggers in the lower right felling trees and assemble a timber raft to transport the logs to a waiting mill downriver. To the left, a farmer plows newly cleared fields. The Pacific stretches to the horizon, with several ships scattered atop its serene waters.
Publication History and Census
This view was created and published by Currier and Ives in 1870. We note a color example at the D'Amour Museum of Fine Arts in Springfield, Massachusetts, and a black and white example in the Library of Congress.


Nathaniel Currier (March 27, 1813 - November 20, 1888) was an American lithographer best known as part of 'Currier and Ives'. Born in Roxbury, Massachusetts, Currier attended public schools until fifteen, when he apprenticed with the Boston lithographic firm of William and John Pendleton. The Pendletons were the first successful lithographers in the United States and were responsible for educating the next generation of lithographic printers. In 1833, Currier left the Pendleton's shop to work with M.E.D. Brown in Philadelphia. A year later, Currier moved to New York City, where he planned to start a business with John Pendleton. When Pendleton backed out, Currier found a new partner, founding 'Currier and Stodart', but the concern survived for just a year. Currier opened his own lithographic studio in 1835 as an eponymous sole-proprietorship. He initially printed the standard materials, including letterheads, sheet music, and handbills. Later in 1835, Currier began issuing current event imagery. Some of his news printers were issued in the New York Sun. By 1840, Currier had moved away from 'job printing' and further toward fine-print publishing. His Awful Conflagration of the Steam Boat 'Lexington', was published in the Sun that year, as well as being separately issued. James Ives (March 5, 1824 - January 3, 1895) began working under Currier in 1850 as a bookkeeper. Ives contributed greatly to the growth of the business, particularly as a manager, marketer, and businessman. Ives became a full partner in 1857, and the firm was renamed 'Currier and Ives'. Currier and Ives produced over 7,500 images and is best remembered for its popular art prints, particularly Christmas scenes and landscapes. They also produced banners, illustrations of current events, views, and historical scenes. Currier retired in 1880 and turned the business over to his son Edward. Currier married Eliza West Farnsworth in 1840, with whom he had one child Edward West Currier. Eliza died in 1843. Currier remarried to Lura Ormsbee in 1847. Other than being a lithographer, Currier also served as a volunteer New York City fireman during the 1850s, and he liked fast horses. More by this mapmaker...

James Merritt Ives (March 5, 1824 - January 3, 1895) was an American businessman, bookkeeper, and lithographer who oversaw the business side of the famed lithographic firm Currier and Ives. Born in New York City, Ives was a self-trained artist who began working at the age of twelve. He married Caroline Clark (1827 - 1896) on June 24, 1846, who was the sister-in-law of Nathaniel Currier's brother, Charles Currier. In 1852, Nathaniel Currier (March 27, 1813 - November 20, 1888) hired Ives as the bookkeeper for his firm N. Currier, Lithographer, on Charles's recommendation. Ives' talent for art and his knowledge of the artistic world soon became apparent to Currier, who valued his insights as well as the business acumen. Currier offered Ives a full partnership in 1857. They renamed the firm 'Currier and Ives' with Ives as the general manager. Ives began to play a role in selecting artists and prints to publish, and was responsible for pursuing publication of scenes of middle-class America that made the firm famous. After Ives died in 1895, his sons continued to work with Currier's son to manage the firm until it was liquidated in 1907. Learn More...


Good. Backed on paper. Closed margin tear professionally repaired.


Conningham, F. A., Currier and Ives Prints: An Illustrated Check List, #6051. Gale, Currier and Ives: a catalogue raisonné, #6527.