Colton’s Intermediate Railroad Map of the United States


Date: 1882
Place: New York
Dimensions: 136 x 228 cm (53½ x 82 in)
Condition Rating:

In stock

Colton’s 1882 large-format railroad map in four parts with original Stanford slipcase.


A close look at the incredible detail in this map and it is easy to understand why the railroad maps of the Colton firm were so commercially successful, with thousands of sales between 1850 and 1887. The information includes indications of drainage, international, state and county boundaries, cities and towns.

Above all, this was a map for travelers, to be used while planning and taking a journey. For this use the accuracy and thoroughness of railway routes was essential and this map does not disappoint. Railroads are plotted with names of stops labeled offset along the line and routes under construction are indicated by dashed lines.

OCLC/WoldCat lists only two copies, at the Library of Congress and Pennsylvania State University.


George Woolworth Colton and Charles B. Colton

Colton & Co: The Colton mapmaking company was founded by Joseph Hutchins Colton in 1831. A native son of Massachusetts, Colton set up his firm in the metropolis of New York, drawing at first on established cartographers and engravers (e.g. David H. Burr and Samuel Stiles) to license maps. By the 1840s, however, the Colton firm was producing its own maps. They produced anything the market desired, from massive and impressive wall-maps to pockets guides, folding maps, immigrant guides, and atlases. One of the things that set the Colton company aside from many of its contemporaries in terms of quality, was the insistence that only steel plate engravings be used for Colton maps. These created much more well-defined print lines, allowing even minute features and labels to stand out clearly.

In the 1850s Colton’s two sons, George Woolworth and Charles B., were brought on board to the firm. This inaugurated a process of expansion in which the company began taking international commissions and producing wholly independent maps and charts.

Condition Description

Printed on 8 sheets, joined into 4 sheets, backed with linen and sectioned for folding, with old slipcase of English bookseller Edward Stanford. The 4 sheets each measure approx. 68 x 114 cm (26¾ x 41 in) plus margins. Slight toning and dust soiling, a few neat repairs, a few short splits at dissections, very good.


Ristow, Walter W. American Maps and Mapmakers: Commercial Cartography in the Nineteenth Century. Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press, 1985; pp. 318-21, fig. 19-10.

Modelski, Railroad Maps of the United States, #60.