Historic Railroad Map of the Southwest United States - 1875

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Map showing the Southern Pacific Railroad and its connections.

Before the first European explorers arrived in what it now California, the area was one of the most culturally diverse places in North America, inhabited my more than 70 different Native American tribes. After the arrival of Joao Rodrigues Cabrilho in 1542, the area was claimed for the Spanish Empire.

In 1602, the region was further explored and the coast was mapped as New Spain. In 1821, the Mexican War of Independence gave the area to Mexico.

In the 1820's, the area saw an influx of traders and settlers from the U.S. and Canada.

In 1846, the settlers staged a revolt against Mexican rule, dubbed the Bear Flag Revolt, and formed the Republic of California. The republic did not last long however, as the Mexican-American War started 22 days later. American forces occupied the area, and in 1847 the Californios gave control to America with the Treaty of Cahuenga. After the conflict, the land was divided between the United States and Mexico, giving America the territory that was to become California, Arizona, Colorado and Utah. Mexico retained Baha California.

The California Gold Rush started 40 years later at which time the territory boomed. The state has become the most populated state in the United States.

When silver was discovered in Nevada in the late 1850's Virginia City’s population boomed with the arrival of miners, speculators, railroad men and merchants, all eager to gain from the discovery.

The mines later diminished and the Virginia City was largely abandoned. A great fire in 1875 caused millions of dollars of damages in the town.

The Truckee River Valley was an important agricultural farming region that restored westward traveler’s supplies in their frontier quests. Reno became a marketing center for western settlers. In 1874 the Southern Pacific Railroad reached Bakersfield, California.

That same year work began on the Tehachapi Loop. This well-engineered loop was designed to help trains ascend from a pass over the Tehachapi Mountains at a smooth 2% grade before moving through Tunnel No. 9 and entering Bakersfield. The loop was completed in 1876.

In 1877 the Southern Pacific purchased the Houston & Texas Central Railway.

These maps were published in 1875 by G.W. & C.B. Colton & Co. The main map is of the western states and includes relief, drainage, cities, towns, counties, mountain ranges, and railroads, both completed and proposed. The general map at the top includes the southern United States showing the railroad network of 1875.