Maps of the New and Popular St. Louis and Texas Short Line!
An eye-catching 1878 broadside inviting people to come and settle in Texas; a state in which a formal civilian government had only been restored eight years earlier.
Listen to Michael talk about this map:
Neatline is excited to present this vivacious printed broadside of the railroad systems connecting the East Coast and Midwest to St Louis, and St Louis to the reincorporated state of Texas. It is an impacting and colorful celebration of the opportunities on offer in the Southwest in the decades following the Civil War.
The map essentially constitutes a promotional brochure or fold-out map, and was originally created to promote the St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern Railway, which essentially connected St Louis to Texas. One of the undercurrents driving the creation of this beautiful chart was the ambition to attract new settlers to this frontier state. Consequently, it actively promotes the many virtues of Texas and the Southern Railway to those heading west. Yet, while it may have been conceived as a commercial railroad map, it has since become an iconic piece of Texiana due to this underlying, but rather explicitly ambition of drawing new people and new money to the state of Texas.
The sheet measures 32 x 18.5 inches (81 x 47 cm) and sports a large heading: “Maps of the New and Popular St. Louis and Texas Short Line!”. Its main components are nevertheless the two distinct maps, which essentially show the St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern Railway railway line at two different geographic scales. The composition of the maps makes it quite clear that the purpose of both serve to depict the main route from St Louis to Texarkana. Yet each map has it own individual purpose, which is to show how this line connects to other railroad systems in the U.S. as well. That way, one could not just get an idea of the connection from New York, Philadelphia, or Chicago to St Louis, but also of how one might reach one’s final destination once in Texas.
The smaller map on the right covers the largest geographical area by far, including not only the entire East Coast, but also the Midwest and South. This serves to position the St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern Railway within the country and in relation to the many other national lines connecting to it. Despite being a regional map, the line itself is clearly marked, with each stopping point noted and labeled. In the larger map on the left, we are treated to a close-up of the line, which not only provides more detail, but underscores how, once having reached the Southern Railway’s terminus in Texarkana, local railway lines provide onward passage to almost any destination within the state. Where the smaller map on the left delineates and color-codes all of various states depicted, the larger one does this at a county line level. The larger map is also endowed with a prominent title cartouche in the upper left corner, which reads: “A Geographically Correct County Map of States Traversed by the St. Louis, Iron Mountain, and Southern Railway and its Connections.”
Flanking the two maps we find a bar of announcements and a table conveying travel distances. Most of the announcements are advertising catchphrases highlighting the benefits of this particular line. Below the smaller map, a large font stresses that there is no change of cars from St Louis to a series of destinations and their respective distances, followed by a second list, requiring only one change of cars en route. In the announcement bar along the right, the Southern Railway is not only lauded as the shortest route from St Louis to Texas, but also as the only line running full trains the entire length of the route. Last, but by no means least, we find an important announcement in the bottom right corner noting that emigrants are can bring up to 200 lbs of free luggage per passenger.
The commercial nature of this broadside is further emphasized when it is flipped over. The verso contains a condensed timetable for the trains in 1878, as well as a wide range of advertisements for all things related to train travel – from breakfast offers and sleeping compartments, to excursions and emigration assistance. All of these smaller notices are positioned around some rather lengthy remarks by Democrat Governor Richard B. Hubbard extolling Texas’ many virtues and characteristics (e.g. on cultivation regimes, education, and homesteading).
Our map has been beautifully restored, with the original printed colors standing out magnificently. In the lower right corner of the larger map we find a hand-stamp of a previous owner: “Henry H. Hannan, Land Agent, Swan Creek, Ohio” (similar stamps are found on the verso). It is a wonderful piece of micro-history, created at the dawn of a new era of American ingenuity and progress, and tells us a story of Texan resilience that reflects a much deeper transformation of this great country.
Context is everything
Our map was produced in the years following the end of the Civil War and Texas’ formal reinstatement to the Union (1870). The war had done its damage – not least in the south – and many villages and settlements had be de-populated. The vacuum created by a dwindling population and no formal power structure following the Civil War meant that states such as Texas on one hand suffered incredible hardships, but on the other held great opportunity for those willing to work hard. This void drew large numbers of people to the American South, including Texas, but in their wake also came opportunists, carpet-baggers, and conmen.
In the description we discussed how this map has become a part of Texas history and a revered collectors’ item precisely because it reflects the historical ambitions and needs of that state at that particular time. Yet the map is also an important piece of railway history, in that it was printed at a decisive time in which many local lines designed for specifically local needs and purposes gradually became integrated into an national network of American railroad systems.
The St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern Railway had originally been established to transport ore from the Iron Mountains in Missouri to St Louis, but it was expanded significantly through a merger in 1878 to become the main railroad connection between St Louis and Texas. The merger also saw the renaming of the line to the Texas and Pacific Railway Company, and the fact that our map still carries the line’s original name emphasizes just how pivotal a moment in railroad history it was created in.
The map is found in the David Rumsey Collection (List no. 5233.001), which also holds several other similar maps of Texas railroad lines. Rarely is it seen in the spectacular condition of Neatline’s copy.
Overall, the map is an important testimony, not only to American railroad history, but to post-Civil War America and the unique historical trajectory of the Southwest.
OCLC 953571832. Rumsey 5233.001.