Map of the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers and their tributaries

Map of Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers

Description

There is a strong temptation to view maps as an unbiased depiction of reality, but the drastically dissimilar end products of pre-national-park Yellowstone maps demonstrate the extent to which these realities differ across cartographers. For example, maps produced by early explorers were generally far less accurate than those made by fur trappers, who were often intimately familiar with the geography of the region. Raynolds, a topological engineer who led a westward expedition in 1859, embodies the less informative and complete maps. However, the map’s shortcomings do not merely imply a lack of knowledge.

The landmarks emphasized by Raynolds reflect the geological features most valued by European-Americans at the time—namely, large bodies of water and extreme elevation. Yet crucially, despite initial appearances, Raynolds’s map is not a purely physical map; he included early boom towns and several forts. This makes the almost complete lack of acknowledgement of Native American presence more alarming. No Native American settlements or prominent cultural sites appear on this map. An extensive search reveals several landmarks denoting the presence of Native American tribes through titles like “Comanche Dr.” However, nearly every word on the map is in English, and the nature of the labels reveals that these locations were named by European-American explorers; a name like “Elephants Back Mt.,” for instance, could not have been named by people with no concept of an elephant. Large swaths marked “unexplored” underscore the lack of comprehensiveness in Raynolds’s work.

MetaData

Dublin Core

Title

Map of the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers and their tributaries

Subject

Yellowstone, Yellowstone River, Missouri River, Raynolds, map

Description

There is a strong temptation to view maps as an unbiased depiction of reality, but the drastically dissimilar end products of pre-national-park Yellowstone maps demonstrate the extent to which these realities differ across cartographers. For example, maps produced by early explorers were generally far less accurate than those made by fur trappers, who were often intimately familiar with the geography of the region. Raynolds, a topological engineer who led a westward expedition in 1859, embodies the less informative and complete maps. However, the map’s shortcomings do not merely imply a lack of knowledge.

The landmarks emphasized by Raynolds reflect the geological features most valued by European-Americans at the time—namely, large bodies of water and extreme elevation. Yet crucially, despite initial appearances, Raynolds’s map is not a purely physical map; he included early boom towns and several forts. This makes the almost complete lack of acknowledgement of Native American presence more alarming. No Native American settlements or prominent cultural sites appear on this map. An extensive search reveals several landmarks denoting the presence of Native American tribes through titles like “Comanche Dr.” However, nearly every word on the map is in English, and the nature of the labels reveals that these locations were named by European-American explorers; a name like “Elephants Back Mt.,” for instance, could not have been named by people with no concept of an elephant. Large swaths marked “unexplored” underscore the lack of comprehensiveness in Raynolds’s work.

Creator

William F. Raynolds, American, 1820-1894

Source

David Rumsey Historical Map Collection

Publisher

US War Dept.

Date

1868

Contributor

Matthew Hack

Rights

Public domain

Relation

Prints and Drawings

Format

68 x 105 cm

Language

En-US

Type

Book Map

Identifier

0833.000

Coverage

Alternative Title

Map of Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers

Date Created

February 20, 2018

Access Rights

Public domain

License

N/A

Medium

Book map

Bibliographic Citation

Howes R88; Graff 3429; Wheat 1012; Phillips p1130.

https://www.davidrumsey.com/luna/servlet/detail/RUMSEY~8~1~251026~5517301:Map-of-the-Yellowstone-and-Missouri#

Spatial Coverage

Yellowstone

Temporal Coverage

19th Century

Audience

General audience

Rights Holder

https://www.davidrumsey.com/about

Citation

William F. Raynolds, American, 1820-1894, “Map of the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers and their tributaries,” Park Culture, accessed March 4, 2021, http://parkculture.org/items/show/126.

Collection

Geolocation