C. Roeser. “Territory of Dakota.” From Annual Report of the Commissioner of the General Land Office. Washington: General Land Office, 1876. Photolithograph by Julius Bien. 22 1/2 x 29 1/2. Some light darkening and minor wear at some folds. Overall, very good condition.
The U.S. General Land Office (GLO) was established in 1812 with responsibility to survey and control the dispersal of public lands. All public land was required to be surveyed prior to settlement, and the first director of the GLO, Thomas Hutchins, set up a systematic process of rectangular survey for the public lands and launched the great national project to survey and map the public domain in the entire country, a procedure which got under way in the famous “seven ranges” of southeast Ohio. Each surveyor was to record not only geography, but also features of the landscape with economic import, such as roads, Indian trails, existing settlements, Indian lands, mineral deposits, and of particular interest, railroads and their rights of way.
By mid-century the GLO had completed most of the surveys for the lands between the Appalachians and the Mississippi, and so focused most of its attention to the American west for the rest of the century. The GLO published mostly state and territory maps, which were issued in annual reports, bound into state atlases, and in a few atlases that combined all the current maps in progress. These maps produced by the GLO are the most accurate and detailed maps of the U.S., based on rigorous and comprehensive surveys not hindered by commercial concerns. These maps proved very useful to private American mapmakers, and they were often the basis for state and county maps in the second part of the nineteenth century. This map shows the Dakota Territory at an early stage of its development. The western part of the territory remains as mostly Indian reservations, but eastern parts show the development of towns and other non-Indian settlements. Rivers and other topography, such as the Black Hills, are shown, as are forts and other details of interest.