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Press Release - Maps Detailing the Missouri River Published by the SHSND

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 8, 2013
Contact: Kim Jondah
701.328.1476

Maps Detailing the Missouri River Published by the SHSND

BISMARCK—For the first time since they were created more than 150 years ago, a series of maps of the Missouri River is available to the public. Lieutenant G.K. Warren’s 1855 and 1856 Manuscript Maps of the Missouri River, a portfolio including 39 maps, is available at the North Dakota Heritage Center Museum Store in Bismarck.

In 1856 a small group of US Army engineers began a voyage up the Missouri River from near St. Louis to the confluence with the Yellowstone, mapping the natural and cultural environment of the river in great detail. This survey was part of Lieutenant Gouverneur K. Warren’s task of creating an accurate map of the Central and Northern Plains. Completed in 1859, that map has long been recognized as a high-water mark of western cartography before the Civil War.

The 1859 publication, however, did not contain many of the details noted on the original manuscript maps, created by the surveyors while on the river. The Warren expedition maps are the earliest documentation of the river to achieve such a high level of detail and accuracy.

These original maps remained unpublished until now, being reproduced by the State Historical Society of North Dakota. The maps provide a snapshot of the cultural and natural features of the Missouri River of value to historians and historical archaeologists as well as ecologists and others trying to understand the changes in the river ecosystem over time. They are among the most important resources for research on the 19th century Missouri River.

Each map chart indicates the river channel, sand bars, vegetation growing along the valley floor, and the bluff lines. Tributary streams, islands, towns, villages, and other natural and cultural features are named. The maps are black-and-white reproductions, at about 85 percent of the original size, with all original details.

Digital scans of the originals, housed in the National Archives, were obtained and the introduction to the maps written by Graham Calloway and W. Raymond Wood. Calloway received his Master of Arts degree in anthropology from the University of Arkansas in 2012. His thesis work was a detailed analysis of the maps in this publication. W. Raymond Wood is professor emeritus of anthropology at the University of Missouri, Columbia, and has written about the Lower and Upper Missouri for more than sixty years. He has compiled three other atlases of early maps of the American Midwest and Great Plains, as well as additional books and articles about the region.

Lieutenant G.K. Warren’s 1855 and 1856 Manuscript Maps of the Missouri River is available for $39.95 at the North Dakota Heritage Center Museum Store in Bismarck or by contacting Museum Stores Manager Rhonda Brown at 701.328.2822, email museumstore@nd.gov or order online at http://history.nd.gov/museumstore.

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