Washington; 1855-1861: Government Printing Office. First Edition. Hard Cover. Item #7743
Quarto, 12 volumes in 13, uniform bindings of contemporary 3/4 brown leather over marbled boards; marbled end papers and marbled edges. A COMPLETE COPY, having all the maps, charts, color and black and white illustrations, which are called for by Wagner-Camp. All plates and maps are very good to fine. These surveys were the government's first attempt to examine the vast compendium of vital information which detail the topographical, botanical, zoological, and the natural history aspects of a largely unknown West. This monumental work contains over 650 striking color (some hand-colored) and black and white illustrations, charts and maps. An excellent set, internally clean, in very good contemporary bindings, volume 12-1 expertly rebacked, with original spine laid down; Muhlenberg Library stamp on some page edges, a few erased, neat owner name on FEP's; pockets unobtrusively removed from rear end papers, volume VIII with small hole in rear end paper; some plates from another copy, more in volume XII-I; all volumes are the Senate issue, except for XII-I, which is the House issue. Most title pages with location numbers in lower right. Altogether, a handsome set, with all plates very good to fine, and quite scarce as such. Armorial bookplate. 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.....to ascertain the most practical and economic route for a railroad from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean." 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 for a fairly tight schedule; these 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. "Despite their flaws, these volumes contain a monumental collection of scientific information, geographical, zoological, botanical, geological.......Upon first examination, the volumes seem forbiddingly disorganized; reports clearly were printed as they were received.....However, these faults are amply compensated by the richness of the material within." Wagner-Camp 261.