Skeleton Map of the Union Pacific Railway

Date: 1886
Place: Buffalo, NY
Dimensions: 20.3 x 50.5 cm (8 x 23 in)
Condition Rating: VG

Out of stock

SKU: NL-00678 Categories: , Tag:

Decorative promotional railroad map of the Union Pacific Railway, with a topographic profile.


This is a promotional skeleton map of the Union Pacific Railway, touted as “the most popular transcontinental line.” It is filled with numerous pictorial vignettes of scenes from the Great Plains and Western Americana, including: buffaloes, a cowboy, Salt Lake City, corn fields, Garfield Landing, Native American figures, Yosemite, and more.

Perhaps the most striking feature of the map is the topographic profile running along the bottom of the map, extending from Council Bluffs, Iowa, to San Francisco, California. The well-executed profile identifies important towns, flora and fauna, and natural resources along the route. It presents both an elevation chart and illustrations of mountains themselves.

The route itself is boldly depicted in red, with white circles and black text indicating each stop. Over a decade after the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad, rail travel to the West is fully established — a notion highlighted by a pair of vignettes titled The New Way and The Old Way. The former depicts a locomotive gliding forward unencumbered; the latter shows a team of horses and carts struggling over rough terrain.


Matthews, Northrup & Co.

Matthews, Northrup & Co. was a prominent American printing and publishing company based in Buffalo, New York. It operated during the late 19th and early 20th centuries and was known for producing high-quality illustrations, maps, and other printed materials.

The company was founded in 1873 by Edward Amherst Ott, Frederick W. Matthews, and George G. Herendeen. Initially named “Matthews & Northrup,” the firm focused on bookbinding and printing. In 1877, the company changed its name to “Matthews, Northrup & Co.” after William H. Northrup, a talented engraver and lithographer, joined as a partner.

Matthews, Northrup & Co. quickly gained a reputation for its excellence in printing and innovative use of lithography, a printing method that allowed for detailed and colorful illustrations. The company specialized in producing a wide range of products, including atlases, maps, travel guides, and promotional materials.

One of the most significant contributions of Matthews, Northrup & Co. was its involvement in the production of “The Encyclopaedia Britannica.” In the late 19th century, the company secured a contract to print the ninth edition of the encyclopedia, which was a monumental undertaking at the time.

Union Pacific Railroad Company

Founded in 1862, the original Union Pacific Rail Road was part of the First Transcontinental Railroad project, later known as the Overland Route. The railroad was absorbed by the Union Pacific Railway in 1880, which was absorbed by the Union Pacific Railroad in 1897. Over the next century, UP absorbed the Missouri Pacific Railroad, the Chicago and North Western Transportation Company, the Western Pacific Railroad, the Missouri–Kansas–Texas Railroad and the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad.

Condition Description

Chips at the edges and minor wear at folds. Even offsetting throughout.