Reports of Explorations and Surveys to Ascertain the Most Practicable and Economical Route for a Railroad from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean..Made under the direction of the Secretary of War, in 1853 & 1854.

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Humphreys, A. A. Capt. & Warren, G. K. Lieut. et al, by Direction of Jefferson Davis Secretary of War; Reports of Explorations and Surveys to Ascertain the Most Practicable and Economical Route for a Railroad from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean..Made under the direction of the Secretary of War, in 1853 & 1854. 12 volumes in 13. 33rd Congress 2nd Session, Senate and House Executive Doc., Washington,1855-1860.
 
Large quarto: vol. 1, pp. viii, 652, (all maps noted are found in volume 11). Vol. 2, pp. 128, 23 plates (some colored) & pp. 45 & pp. 186, 10 plates & pp. 50, 2 folded hand colored maps & pp. 28 & pp. 22. (other maps located in volume 11). Vol. 3,
pp. 36, x, 1 colored plate, & pp. 136, 10 colored plates, & pp. 78, 2 colored plates, 8 charts & pp. 127, 8 colored plates, & pp. viii, 176, 2 hand colored folded maps, 3 plates (1 colored). Volume 4, pp. vii, 26, 193, folded hand colored map, 49 plates
& pp. 288. Vol. 5, pp. 44, 12 plates & pp. xvi, 370, five colored maps, 14 sections, 36 plates & pp. xiii, 15, 18 plates, & pp. 14. Vol. 6, pp. 134, 13 plates, & pp. 85, 5 plates, & pp. 102, 16 plates (some colored), & pp. 114, 16 plates (2 colored), & pp. iv, 64. ( some maps found in volume 11). Vol. 7, pp. 42, 8 plates (colored), & pp. 204, 24 plates. 2 folded hand colored maps, & pp. 28, 8 plates, & pp. 116, 11 plates, & pp. 37. (some maps in volume 11). Vol. 8, pp. xlviii, 756, 43 plates. Vol. 9, pp. lvi, 1008. Vol. 10, pp. 16, 13 plates, & pp. 400, 21 plates, & pp. 30, 20 plates (some colored), & pp. 64, 34 plates (some colored) & pp. 24, 4 plates (colored), & pp. 100, 26 plates, & pp. 14, 4 plates. Vol. 11, pp. 116, 4 plates, 5 folded maps, pp. 4, 13 plates, (5 folded), 33 folded maps and profiles. (these are the maps which are discussed and referred to in previous volumes). The large folded Warren map was removed at some point and archival re-backed and preserved in a separate archival folder.  Vol. 12 (part 1) pp. 334, 2 folded maps, 1 sheet of profiles, 70 plates (some colored). Vol. 12 (parts 2 & 3), pp. 76, 6 plates, & pp. 399, 47 plates.
 
The set is complete. Volumes 1 through 11 are the Senate issue and are in a matching 3/4 calf and pebbled cloth with gilt ruled borders and gilt spine titles. Volume 12 is in a 3/4 lighter calf with marbled boards and gilt spine labels. The maps in volume 11 had been reattached with cloth at some point to help preserve them in the volume. There is pencilled figures on the verso of the first maps but the images do not show through to the maps and profiles. The bindings on the Senate volumes are tight and clean with minor scuffing at binding edges. The texts and plates are over all clean with minor foxing to some text and plate margins. The text in volume 11 has moderate foxing. The bindings on volume 12 are very clean and tight. Part 1 is very clean internally and part 2 has the typical light browning on some plates. Over all a very good set.
 
Passenger railroad service first appeared in the United States in the 1830's. Plans to build a transcontinental railroad quickly emerged, but controversy delayed movement for about 20 years. Then in 1853, Congress authorized Jefferson Davis, Secretary of War to begin explorations and surveys for railroad routes west. Four routes were then designated, one along the 47th parallel along the Missouri River and over the northern Rockies, a second along the 38th parallel through middle America to the Salt Lake Basin, then West, a third route along the 35th parallel crossing Texas, New Mexico and Arizona into southern California, and a fourth along the 32nd parallel across central Texas, along the Gila River to Fort Yuma and San Diego. Another survey was ordered linking southern California and the Pacific Northwest. A more than adequate budget was provided and the explorations were conducted in 1853-54. The expedition parties were staffed with the nations most competent artists, cartographers, botanists, geologists, naturalists and other specialists and the very best equipment was purchased. The first of the above quarto volumes appeared in 1855 and the final volume in 1861.
Under the direction of Secretary of War Jefferson Davis and with numerous scientists and cartographers the Pacific Railroad survey in two years vastly increased our knowledge of the geography, topography, geology, paleontology, mineral resources, ethnology and natural history of the West. Included in the volumes are the reports of Humphreys, Stevens, Beckwith, Whipple, Warren, Williamson, Lander, and many others on scientific observations, and numerous significant achievements in cartography including Warren's "Map of the Territory of the United States from the Mississippi to the Pacific Ocean..." which has been hailed as "the best cartographical work on the West up to its time…" This was to lead to new explorations for mineral deposits, the founding of new mining towns which would become cities and ultimately the settling of the western United States.
Various illustrators, engravers, lithographers, cartographers and printing firms contributed to the publication. Some of the illustrators include: A. H. Campbell, F.W. Egloffstein, Chas. Koppel, J.H. Richard, C. Schumann, J.S. Tidball, J. Young, and J.J. Young. Some of the engravers include: F. Artos, R. Hinshelwood, S.V. Hunt, R. Metzeroth, N. Orr, and Pinkney. Lithography and printing firms for the maps and illustrations include: Ackerman lith., J. Bien lith., Herline & Hensel lith., Hoffman, Knickerbocker & Co. lith., Sarony, Major & Knapp lith., Selmar Siebert's engraving & printing establishment, and T. Sinclair's lith. 
As historians have pointed out, upon first examination, the volumes seem forbiddingly disorganized; reports clearly were printed as they were received; there is no overall system or arrangement, nor are there general indices to the volumes. A listing of the contents follows:
Volume 1. Introduction. Route near the 47th and 49th parallels -- volume 2. Routes near 38th and 39th, 41st, and 32d parallels. Landers's report -- volumes 3-4. Route near the 35th parallel -- volume 5. Routes in California to connect with those near the 35th and 32d parallels -- volume 6. Routes in Oregon and California -- volume 7. Route in California to connect with those near the 35th and 32d parallels. Route between the Rio Grande and Pimas villages -- volume 8. Mammals of the several routes -- volume 9. Birds of the several routes -- volume 10. Reptiles and fishes of the several routes ; Zoological reports on routes near 38th and 39th, 41st 35th and 32d parallels ; On routes in California to connect with those near 35th and 32d parallels ; Reptiles of routes in California and Oregon -- volume 11. Material used and methods employed in compiling the general map ; [Topographical maps, etc.] -- volume 12. Route near the 47th and 49th parallels (concluded).
In summary, Pacific Railroad Surveys stands as a testament to one of the greatest government sponsored projects in our history and is a foundation work for any collection devoted to Western Americana or cartography.