Mitchell 1866 Central Plains


W.H. Gamble. “Map of Kansas, Nebraska and Colorado.  Showing also The Southern portion of Dacotah.” From Mitchell’s New General Atlas.  Philadelphia: S. Augustus Mitchell, Jr., 1866. 11 1/2 x 14. Lithograph. Full original color. Very good condition.

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A fine, original antique map of the plains states from Philadelphia publisher S. Augustus Mitchell Jr..  It shows the territories of Kansas and Nebraska not too long after they were reorganized into their present borders (though they were still territories for a number of years yet).  Their reorganization was started with the creation of the territory of Colorado in 1861.  This territory was formed because of the huge population which had emigrated to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in the “Pike’s Peak Gold Rush.”  When gold was discovered at the junction of Cherry Creek and the South Platte in 1858, tens of thousands flooded to the area over the next couple of years, creating the towns of Denver City and Auraria (the two which joined together to form Denver), as well as Boulder, Golden, Central City, Breckinridge, all of which are shown on this map in the “Gold Region.”

Colorado was created to a great extent from the western part of Kansas, which thus was shrunk to its current size.  Nebraska also lost some land to Colorado in 1861, but it was mostly reduced that year by the organization of the lands north of 43° N as the Dakota Territory.  The last change to its borders, in 1863, occurred when the western part of both Dakota and Nebraska were subsumed in the new territory of Idaho; a year later that region was broken off from Idaho and attached to Dakota, as it is shown here.  This was a period of the planning of the trans-continental railroad and Mitchell shows a number of the considered routes with dashed lines.  This map was issued at a time when this region was flooded by settlers, miners and emigrants seeking new opportunities in the burgeoning American West.  The eastern-most parts of Kansas and Nebraska are shown fairly well settled, and in the west are shown a few new settlements, forts, and Indian tribes.  With updated maps in most atlases, Mitchell pictured this fascinating part of American history at a transitional stage.