This is an original antique map of the route of the Central Pacific Railroad that is illustrated with 24 images of the west, primarily of California and Nevada, several of which are based on the work of celebrated American naturalist photographer Carleton Watkins.
Carleton E. Watkins (1829–1916) was an American photographer of the 19th century. Born in New York, he moved to California and quickly became interested in photography. He focused mainly on landscape photography, and Yosemite Valley was a favorite subject of his. His photographs of the valley significantly influenced the United States Congress’ decision to preserve it as a National Park.
The use of the natural beauty of the western states to promote train travel from east to west is a common theme of late 19th century railroad maps, but few were executed with the high-level design of this map. Furthermore, the scope of this map is interesting, promoting not just westward expansion and emigration (as was common), but also travel as far as Asia or even from west to east from San Francisco to New York or Europe.
A table with a border designed as a scroll gives distances and altitude changes to important stops from San Francisco to Ogden, including Sacramento, and Promontory Summit; the latter being the meeting place of the Central Pacific and Union Pacific for the ceremonial completion of the Transcontinental Railroad two years prior, on May 10, 1869.