Colton 1856 New Mexico & Utah


“Territories of New Mexico and Utah.”  From Colton’s Atlas of America.  New York” J.H. Colton & Co., [1855]-1856.  15 3/4 x 12 3/4.  Lithograph.  Original hand color.  Some light stains at right.  Else, very good condition.

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An early example of J.H. Colton’s important map of the American Southwest.  With the American victory in the Mexican War (1846-48), the United States gained a huge amount of land to the west of the Louisiana Territory.  In 1850, the territory gained outside of California was divided into two territories: Utah to the north, the home of the Mormons, and New Mexico to the south.  This was one of the first maps to show this region and this early version of Colton’s map—which went through at least 12 states until 1863—shows the original configuration of the two territories.

The map is copious in its detail, with forts, Indian tribes, counties, mountains, rivers, lakes all clearly depicted.  This information is impressively accurate, being based on the various explorations in the area.  The routes of a number of these explorers are shown, including those of Frémont, Stansbury, Kearney and Gunnison (the latter noting that “Capt. Gunnison Killed by Indians”).  Also indicated are the Cimarron Route from Ft. Leavenworth to Santa Fe, the Spanish route from Santa Fe to Los Angeles, the Oregon Route, and the different proposed routes for the transcontinental railroad.  This map is interesting in showing Colorado (then mostly part of the Kansas Territory) just before the Gold Rush of 1858-1861.  Over the next 8 years, this region would undergo tremendous changes, documented well in Colton’s series of maps, of which this is the second state.