Colton Nebraska & Kansas Territories, 1856


“Nebraska and Kanzas.”  From Colton’s Atlas of America.  New York: J.H. Colton & Co., [1855]-1856.  12 3/4 x 15 3/4.  Lithograph.  Original hand color.  Very good condition.  With decorative border.

Categories: ,


One of the first maps to focus on the northern plains east of the Rockies.  New settlers were moving into the northern plains in the early 1850s, and many emigrants passed through the region on their way further west along the Oregon Trail.  This area had been part of the original Missouri Territory and with the increasing population, there was a need to break it into smaller units.  Thus, in 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska Act was passed by Congress, setting up the two territories as they are shown in this map of but two years later.  Kansas Territory is shown with its present north and south borders, but its western border extending into present-day Colorado.  The Nebraska Territory is shown reaching all the way north to Canada and as far west as the “heights” of the Rocky Mountains.  The territories retained this shape from 1855 until 1861 and few were made just of these territories in this configuration.

As this region was of considerable interest at the time, Colton included an impressive amount of information.  Rivers, extremely important for emigrants and settlers alike, are shown with good detail, including the upper Missouri feeders, the two branches of the Platte, and the Arkansas River.  Forts, such as Laramie, Atkinson, Clark, Union and many others, are clearly delineated, and Indian tribes are named and located throughout.  Of particular interest are the indications of early exploration routes and the main passes over the Rocky Mountains, including the famous South Pass.  An important map of an important region in the western expansion of the United States just prior to the Civil War.