Johnson 1864 Northwest U.S.


“Johnson’s Washington Oregon and Idaho.”  From Johnson’s New Family Atlas of the World.  New York: Johnson and Ward, 1864.  12 3/4 x 15 3/4.  Lithograph.  Original hand color.  Very good condition.

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A fascinating version of Johnson’s map of the northwest corner of the United States.  This map shows a very early configuration of this region, which was originally all the Oregon Territory.  In 1853, the northern part of that territory was broken off as the Washington Territory, and then in 1859, Oregon was reduced in size and became a state, with the eastern part of what had been the Oregon given to Washington Territory.  This configuration stayed until 1863 when Congress, in response to the gold discoveries in the eastern part of Washington Territory, broke this area off from Washington and created the Idaho Territory from these lands plus the western part of the Dakota Territory.  Just a year later this vast Idaho territory was again broken up, so the part east of the Rocky Mountain ridge became the Montana Territory.

This map was issued during the one-year period when the Idaho Territory was at its largest extent, reaching from today’s eastern border of Washington to today’s western border of the Dakota’s, a configuration depicted on the map.   Johnson’s rush to get this new configuration out is shown by the fact that the eastern part of the new Idaho Territory still includes a label for “Dakota Territory,” an error removed in the next state of this map.  Overall, the detail in this map is most impressive, showing rivers, towns, forts, Indian tribes, and the early trails which crisscrossed this region.  This map, issued during the Civil War, shows the territories just before they were filled with new settlers, miners and other speculators.  This is a wonderful map of an important period in the history of the American northwest.