Watson's New Railroad and
Distance Map of the United States and Canada compiled from the latest
This map was published in 1871 by Gaylord Watson. It shows cities, towns, counties and waterways. Railroads are clearly labeled with mileage between stations noted.
Indicated in crayon are the voyages of duck-boat "Centennial Republic" and paper canoe "Maria Theresa". Lightweight self-propelled water vessels gained much attention in the 1870's, having been popularized by adventurers John "Rob Roy" MacGregor, Nathaniel H. Bishop and others. Bishop instigated the experimental voyages noted in this map.
Mr. Bishop endevoured to follow natural waterways south to the Gulf of Mexico using the least number of portages. He first set off from Quebec, Canada in 1874 in a wooden canoe and finding it too heavy, he acquired a mere fifty-eight pound paper-mache canoe "Maria Theresa" produced by New York paper innovators E. Waters & Sons at their shipyards along the Hudson River. The canoe was sturdy, reinforced, and waterproof. Bishop used a double-bladed paddle to navigate the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers southward to the Gulf of Mexico. Bishop then followed the coast all the way to Cedar Keys, Florida; sometimes using the canoe as a sled through un-navigatable portions.
In 1875 he set off on another voyage in a twelve-foot cedar duck-boat (a fashioned hunting vessel or sneakbox) from the head of the Ohio River at Pittsburgh to the river's confluence with the Missisippi, then south to New Orleans. This trip of over two thousand miles celebrated the United States centennial.
These voyages were considered great feats and Bishop's published works "Voyage of the Paper Canoe" and Four Months in a Sneakbox" became quite popular.
During a book-tour, the Georgia town of St. Mary's honored his endevour, and at a town assembly Bishop addressed the large crowd:
"Since my little paper canoe entered southern waters upon her geographical errand, from the capes of the Delaware to your beautiful St. Mary's, I have been deeply sensible of the value of southern hospitality. The oystermen and fishermen living along the lonely beaches of the eastern shore of Maryland and Virginia; the surfmen and lighthouse keepers of Albemarle, Pamplico, and Core sounds, in North Carolina; the ground-nut planters who inhabit the uplands that skirt the network of creeks, marshes, ponds, and sounds from Bogue Inlet to Cape Fear; the piny-woods people, lumbermen, and turpentine distillers on the little bluffs that jut into the fastnesses of the great swamps of the crooked Waccamaw River; the representatives of the once powerful rice-planting aristocracy of the Santee and Peedee rivers; the colored men of the beautiful sea islands along the coast of Georgia; the Floridians living between the St. Mary's River and the Swanee, the wild river of song; the islanders on the Gulf of Mexico where I terminated my long journey; all heve contributed to make the 'Voyage of the Paper Canoe' a success."
Nathaniel Bishop later helped found the American Canoe Association.
Inset maps include vicinities of New York, Philadelphia and Boston.