Report of an Expedition Down the Zuni and Colorado Rivers

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Author: Sitgreaves, Lerenzo (1811-1888)

Year: 1853

Publisher: Robert Armstrong

Place: Washington


198 pages with 23 plates. Royal octavo (9 1/2" x 6") rebound in 3/4 leather with marbled boards and black label with gilt lettering to spine. 79 plates with one (Buffalo Dance) folding and some with a single tint, in this first issue there are errors in the list of illustrations corrected in later issues viz. Landscapes, etc, 23 plates, numbered as 1-13, 15-23 plus one unnumbered at end; Mammals, 6 plates; Birds, 5 plates, numbered 1, 3-6 (plate 2, Struthus Canicops, Woodhouse, male is called for but not present and most likely not to be found in this issue); Reptiles 21 plates, with 10a miss-numbered as 10, 12 as 13, and 13 as 16; Fishes, 3 plates; Plants, 21 plates, plate 21 Aploppus Nuttalii present but not called for. Includes Reconnaissance of the Zuni, Little Colorado, and Colorado Rivers Made in 1851 map as called for, but includes Lithographed map Boundary of the Creek Country (24" x 36") published in 1858, HR Executiv3e Document No. 104, 35th Congress, 1st Session laid in but not called for. (Senate Executive Document 59) (Howes: 528) First edition.

Survey of the watershed of the Canadian River and Red Fork of the Arkansas River in Indian Territory, extending from Fort Smith to the border with Texas. The lands of the Cherokee, Creek, Seminole and Choctaw Indians are located. The map locates numerous forts, including Smith, Coffee, Gibson and Old Fort Holmes, and their connecting wagon roads. Talasee is shown at the site of Tulsa. This map was issued with the "Northern and Western Boundary Line of the Creek Country" report by Sitgreaves and Lt. J.C. Woodruff. The surveys were made in 1848 and 1850, but the report in which the map was issued wasn't published until 1858.

After the conquest of New Mexico and California it was apparent that transportation and communications needed to be improved between these new territories and the rest of the United States east of the Mississippi. Geographical knowledge of most of this area, particularly northwestern New Mexico (now northern Arizona), was very limited and inaccurate. Some maps of the day showed a river system that might provide a possible navigable water corridor between New Mexico and the Gulf of California via the Zuni, Little Colorado, and Colorado Rivers.In September of 1851 Captain Lorenzo Sitgreaves, along with a small crew of topographers, naturalists, artists, and support personnel, and an escort of 30 infantrymen left the Zuni Pueblo in western New Mexico by pack train with instructions to explore and map the Zuni and Colorado Rivers and evaluate their navigability in light of a possible impending war with the Mormons in Utah. They traveled southwest along the Zuni River to its mouth and then headed northwest along the Little Colorado, intending to follow it to the Colorado. When they reached Grand Falls (northwest of present-day Winslow, Arizona) their guide, Antoine Leroux, advised them that it was unwise to follow the river any further because it flowed in a deep canyon for the rest of its course and emptied into the great canyon of the Colorado River. They left the river and struck off due west around the north side of the San Francisco Mountains, discovering the Wupatki Indian Ruins along the way, and looped southwestward around the south side of Bill Williams Mountain. The rest of their westward march followed near the future alignment of Route 66 to the Colorado River near the modern town of Bullhead City, Arizona. After a difficult march south along the Colorado River they reached Camp Yuma on November 30. Of course, Sitgreaves discovered that the Zuni and Little Colorado Rivers were not at all navigable and would be useless to transport troops and supplies. The Colorado River, however, was found to be navigable along the entire distance that he explored. Sitgreaves' official report, "Report of an Expedition Down the Zuni and Colorado Rivers in 1851," was published in 1853.


Foxing, left margin trimmed as issued for folding, all other plates present as called for in Howes as well as Lithographed map Boundary of the Creek Country laid in and not called for, some folding. Rebound in attractive three quarter leather else a about very good.

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