January 27, 2016

Map of the Discoveries Made of the Northwest Coast of North America

Antonio María de Bucareli y Ursúa (1717‒79) was born in Seville, Spain. He served as captain general of Cuba from 1766 to 1771 and as viceroy of New Spain from 1771 to 1779. He reorganized the Spanish military units in the viceroyalty and strengthened and rebuilt fortifications along the Pacific coast and on the Gulf of Mexico, with the objective of forestalling encroachments by other powers. Bucareli took a keen interest in the northern reaches of New Spain. He fought Indian insurrections, invested in fortifying presidios and Spanish and Indian settlements, and sent expeditions to explore and settle the whole coastal area of California and to monitor Russian incursions. Under Bucareli’s direction, Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Cuadra (1743‒94) sailed from Mexico along the coast of California and explored and mapped the San Francisco Bay area in 1775. Proceeding further north, he took possession of the Alaska coast for Spain, including Prince of Wales Island, at a place that still bears the name of Viceroy Bucareli (Bucareli Bay, southeastern Alaska). After the death of Juan Pérez, Bodega y Cuadra’s pilot, other members of the crew became ill with scurvy, and the expedition was unable to map the new regions it had explored. Spain failed to publicize its findings in maps, and there was no international recognition of its claim. This pen-and-ink map shows the discoveries made by the Spanish on the coast of North America. It is a 1792 copy of an original map depicting the Pacific Coast from the Aleutian Islands to Acapulco and westward to the Sandwich Islands (Hawaiian Islands). The map includes coastlines, settlements, presidios (fortifications), and missions.

Salt Lake City Panorama Showing the Salt Lake Temple and Wasatch Mountain Range

This panoramic bird’s-eye photograph from 1910 shows the Salt Lake Temple and a portion of Temple Square in the foreground, surrounded by a wall, and other parts of Salt Lake City and the Wasatch Range of the Rocky Mountains in the background. The Salt Lake Temple was built on a site identified by Brigham Young (1801‒77), an early Mormon leader, who led the group’s migration westward to land in present-day Utah that he called Deseret. In 1851 Young became the first governor of the territory of Utah. The temple was consecrated in 1893, after 40 years of construction. The famous Salt Lake Tabernacle, completed in 1867, is the oblong-domed structure that can be seen just beyond the temple. The Gothic-style Assembly Hall, built by 1882, can be seen to the upper left. The Brigham Young Monument, built for the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 and thereafter relocated to Salt Lake City, can be seen in the lower-left foreground of the photograph. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also known as the Mormons) was established in 1830 in New York by Joseph Smith, Junior (1805‒44), based on a revelation that Smith claimed to have received from God and Christ. With his followers, Smith fled angry opponents, first to Ohio, then to Missouri, and finally to Illinois, where in 1844 mobs killed Smith and his brother. To escape this persecution, the Mormons decided to move again, this time to the Far West. When the Mormons arrived in Salt Lake Valley in 1847, they became the first permanent white settlers in the Great Basin. Relations with other colonists and the federal government remained volatile for decades, but the Mormons quickly built model colonies based on productive farms and self-reliant communities. These colonies attracted a continual flow of migrants, and Salt Lake City became the Mormon capital and an important freighting and transportation hub of the West.

Going to Klondyke: An Amusing and Instructive Game

The Klondike Gold Rush of 1898 was one of the largest gold frenzies in history. Tens of thousands of prospectors from around the world streamed north to Alaska and the Yukon in a feverish search for fortune. This game, “Going to Klondyke,” was created in 1897 on the basis of news reports about the large initial gold strikes in the Yukon and in anticipation of the coming rush. The game was highlighted in the New York Journal on December 12, 1897. It was produced by the Klondyke Game Company of San Francisco, possibly for sale to the many prospectors who would pass through the port of San Francisco on their way to Alaska and the Yukon. The game tapped into the many myths surrounding the gold rush as well as the political realities in the Far North. The area of the game map covered parts of three countries: the Yukon in Canada (listed here as British Northwest Territories, as the Yukon Territory was established only in 1898, largely as a consequence of the Klondike Gold Rush), the U.S. territory of  Alaska, and Russian Siberia. The rules of the game were simple and are highlighted in a box below the map. Players were to be blindfolded, turned around a few times, and then directed to place a pin on the map. If they struck a gold nugget or landed within a “claim” circle in the United States (Alaska), they could win the full amount listed on the nugget or within the circle. If they did this in Canada, a 20 percent portion had to be taken out of the player’s winnings, presumably to cover higher Canadian taxes. If their pin landed in Siberia, players lost everything to the government, as the Russian state presumably took all the proceeds of mineral discoveries there. The bulls-eye of the map was Dawson City, near the major gold strike along the Klondike River in the Yukon, from which all the circles on the map emanated. The game map also highlights cities, rivers, mountain ranges, bodies of water, and contains scattered images of prospectors, Eskimos, caribou, bears, seals, penguins (mistakenly), and forests.

Millroy's Map of Alaska and the Klondyke Gold Fields

The Klondike Gold Rush of 1898 began in earnest within 18 months of a major gold strike on Bonanza Creek, a tributary of the Klondike River near Dawson City, Canada. A mapmaker from Salt Lake City, J.J. Millroy, created this guide to the Klondike gold fields in 1897 using government and private surveys. The map was intended for use by the many prospective miners who soon were to descend upon the Yukon from around the world. The map shows the major routes to the Klondike gold fields (in red), including the Chilkoot, Chilkat, Copper River, Yukon River, Taku River, and Stikine River Routes. The map also highlights major shipping routes and the exact mileage from San Francisco and Seattle to Juneau and to various other points in Alaska that provided the best access to the interior routes to the Klondike gold fields. The map also shows mountain ranges with elevations marked in feet, bodies of water, and significant towns and cities in Alaska and Canada. The left margin of the map contains practical information on climate, weather, and warnings on a range of regional diseases. It also enumerates the specific equipment needed for, and cost of, outfitting two men for a year in the Yukon, including the tents, blankets, clothes, and standard hardware required. Suggested additional items include many common 19th-century medicines, such as witch hazel and chlorate potash. Information is also provided on the tariffs, duties, and customs that U.S. and Canadian revenue collectors typically imposed on the prospectors at ports and border crossings.

Book of Running Charts of the Yukon and Stewart Rivers, 1913-1950

Presented here is a book of 117 hand-drawn maps of the Yukon and Stewart Rivers in Canada and Alaska. The maps were made between 1913 and 1950 by Ralph W. Newcomb, who worked for many years as a pilot guide on these rivers. Originally part of a loose-leaf notebook, the maps show hazards on the rivers, including swift currents, eddies, mud bars, and sharp bends. They also indicate landmarks along the banks, such as rock slides, glaciers, wooded areas, and such man-made features as abandoned cabins, wagon wheels, and tailings from mining activities. The Yukon River flows through the Yukon Territory of Canada and into Alaska for 3,185 kilometers before discharging into the Bering Sea. The Stewart River rises in the Mackenzie Mountains of central Yukon and runs westward for more than 530 kilometers before flowing into the Yukon River south of Dawson City, Yukon Territory. The maps are accompanied by a typed letter to George H. Wallace that describes the work of river pilots on the Yukon and Stewart rivers.

Fire Insurance Maps of Sitka, Alaska

Shown here is a fire insurance map for Sitka, Alaska, produced by the Sanborn Map Company in 1914. The Sanborn Map Company published such maps for thousands of municipalities across the United States, beginning just after the Civil War, in 1867. The map shows then-extant buildings in Sitka, Alaska, subdivided by town section and highlighting type of structure (frame, brick, stone, iron, or adobe) by color code provided in the key. The inset map in the upper left shows the Sheldon Jackson School for Indians (later Sheldon Jackson College), named for the Presbyterian minister and missionary Sheldon Jackson (1834–1909). The map also includes information on the location and updated manpower status of the municipal fire department, and the type and storage capacity of available water facilities for extinguishing fires. The map provides information on the different historical periods in the development of the town of Sitka, and notes that the Russian-era structures and Native American residences were better-constructed and more fire-resistant than the more recent buildings of white settlers from the United States who came after the Alaska Purchase in 1867. Each part of the map is oriented north. The Sanborn maps were noteworthy for details such as these that went beyond the layout of town streets and buildings, and for this reason have become a valuable resource for historical research on communities across the United States.