Map of the United States West of the Mississippi Showing the Routes to Pike's Peak, Overland Mail Route to California, and Pacific Railroad Surveys, 1859


D. McGowan and George H. Hildt’s 1859 map of the United States west of the Mississippi was based on an official map of 1857 produced by the Pacific railroad surveys. In the 1850s, Americans concluded that they needed to build a transcontinental railroad linking the east and center of the country with the Pacific coast. The U.S. Congress authorized the army topographical service to undertake engineering surveys and general assessments of five possible routes: from Saint Paul, Minnesota; from Council Bluffs, Iowa; from Saint Louis, Missouri; from Memphis, Tennessee; and from Vicksburg, Mississippi. Cities, states, and business groups competed fiercely to be the eastern terminus of the transcontinental railroad. This map offers an excellent example of a promotional map used to encourage settlement and investment in the American West. Published in Saint Louis, it emphasizes potential routes emanating from that city. The focus on Pike’s Peak highlights the recent discovery of gold in Colorado. The map is hand-colored, framed in decorative borders, and shows drainage, state boundaries, cities and towns, and transportation and communication networks.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Leopold Gast & Brother, St. Louis


Type of Item

Physical Description

1 map : hand colored ; 58 x 72 centimeters folded in cover 16 x 11 centimeters


  • Scale ca. 1:5,000,000. Relief shown by hachures.

Last updated: February 18, 2015