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No. 1. Map of the Des Moines Rapids of the Mississippi River

1837 No. 1. Map of the Des Moines Rapids of the Mississippi River

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By: Lt. M.C. Meigs & Henry Kayser

Date: 1837 (Dated)

Dimensions: 24 x 54 inches (61 x 137.2 cm)

This scarce map was based on the surveys undertaken in September of 1837 by future Confederate General Robert E. Lee, along with the military engineer corps assigned to him.

This map is centered on the Mississippi River and is oriented to the west, covering the area from Fort Des Moines and to the south along the river for approximately ten miles. Parts of modern day Illinois and Iowa are depicted, but at the time of issuance of the map the western shores of the Mississippi were part of Wisconsin Territory. Included are details such as individual building and farms, often with surnames of the owners, and even stores alongside the river.

The purpose of this map was to illustrate the treacherous Des Moines Rapids, one of the two major areas of rapids on the river. These areas had become increasingly problematic in the nineteenth century as steamboats engaged in travel and commerce increasingly plied the river.

The Army Corps of Engineers assigned 30 year old Robert E. Lee, then but a First Lieutenant, the task of mapping and blasting a channel through the rapids. This map is the result of those efforts. Lee's channel, little more than a widening of already existing passages, is clearly visible, winding its way through the rocky riverbed.

The survey work behind this map was completed by a party under the command of Robert E. Lee. It was drafted by M. C. Meigs, and Henry Kayser. The engraving and printing was accomplished by W. J. Stone of Washington, D.C. It was published for the 25th Congress, 2nd Secession, 1837.

Condition: This folding map is in B condition. Most separations have been repaired with archival material on the verso.

Inventory #11236

1200 W. 35th Street #425 Chicago, IL 60609 | P: (312) 496 - 3622

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