Historic Railroad Map of the Midwest - 1840

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Guide through Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Wisconsin and Iowa.

This map of the mid-western United States was published in 1840 by John Calvin Smith. It shows counties, cities and towns, canals and waterways, steamboat routes and the railroad network of the 1840's.  An illustration of Maidens Rock, Lake Pepin, on the Mississippi is displayed at the bottom and the whole map is framed in a floral design.

Independence, Missouri was an important frontier town in the 1840's because it was the farthest point westward along the Missouri River where vessels could dock. It accommodated westward merchants and travelers merging with the Santa Fe, California or Oregon Trails. This map is a revealing look at western settlement during that era.

Cleveland, Ohio was founded in the late 1700's on the shores of Lake Erie, near the mouth of the Cuyahoga River. With the addition of several canals and effective railroad lines in the early 1800's, Cleveland quickly became an important manufacturing location. Cleveland was incorporated as a city in 1836. It was then conveniently connected with the Atlantic Ocean by way of the Erie Canal and the St. Lawrence Seaway, and the Gulf of Mexico along the Mississippi River.

Toledo, Ohio was founded along the west bank of the Maumee River in 1833. Toledo was an important canal junction town, as the Miami & Erie Canal and other connecting canals merged there. By the mid-1800's the town maintained several furniture manufacturers, a number of carriage makers and a variety of breweries. Toledo was a major glassmaking town during that era, producing windows, bottles and glass art. When the railroads began to replace the canals as the preferred method of transportation, Toledo became a prominent center for several railroad companies.

Hundreds of factories made Detroit, Michigan a major American manufacturing center during the 1800's. Stoves, boilers, furniture, paper, clothing, boots and shoes, candy, crackers and beer were manufactured in Detroit along with freight and passenger railroad cars. Detroit’s early streets were traversed by convenient street railways. The streets themselves were paved with mostly cedar blocks, which were later replaced with asphalt. Detroit’s harbor was clustered with wharves that extended out over the water for easy loading of freight vessels and passenger steamships.

By 1850 the state of Indiana’s overspending to enhance its own livability since earning statehood had overburdened state financing and it was forced into bankruptcy. The state had heavily invested in the building of roads, canals, railroads, and an expensive state-run school system. Voters officially enacted a new state constitution in 1851.

Extensive building of railroads was occurring throughout the mid-west during the time of this map's publishing.