Jackson’s Map of the Mining Districts of California

This classic Gold Rush book is both a book and a map. Appendix to Jackson’s Map of the Mining Districts of California, created by William A. Jackson in 1849, is notable for its ability to transport readers to the Gold Rush era. Together, these two items are not only rare but significant as the map is one of the earliest to “…cartographically describe the frenzy of the California Gold Rush…and records the great growth of mining in the first year of the gold rush”, as Gary Kurutz poignantly stated in California 49: Forty-Nine Maps of California from the Sixteenth Century to the Present.

Captain William Jackson was a mining engineer who explored the California gold region. He captured his findings in Appendix to Jackson’s Map of the Mining Districts of California. The map within the book recorded the major mining centers in 1849. Likewise, it displayed the roads and trails that led to the gold regions. It is easy to imagine how valuable this map was to a first-time gold-seeker! After pioneers arrived in San Francisco, they frequently took a steamer up the Sacramento River to Sacramento City. Along their journey, they consulted with Appendix to Jackson’s Map for reliable information and accurate directions to the established and lesser developed goldfields.

The map, along with the appendix of twelve pages, is folded together in a thin leather case. All together it is slightly larger than five by three inches. These maps were known as pocket maps because they could easily slip into the miners’ pockets. The Society’s copy is the first edition of Jackson’s map, having been created in 1849 (the preface is dated Dec. 1849), but then not printed until 1850, back in New York City, after Jackson’s return from the gold fields. Jackson’s Map is thought to be the fourth printed map of the gold regions. The map lists the names of the diggings – some, like Murphy, Angel, and Jamestown, appeared for the first time on this map.

Jackson’s Map included destinations such as cities, ranches, Native American villages, and what he referred to as “Workings for Gold” (which is approximately three hundred sights). Also noted are some of the surviving missions, roads, and distances between locations.

The text in the Appendix provided information about the towns in the gold regions. They were mostly brief but helpful for newly arriving miners. His comments on these towns illustrate how early this map was produced. Jackson describes the Gold Rush’s effect on the expanding Sacramento City (“Its population is estimated at 10,000, and is rapidly increasing.”) and Coloma (“…located in the immediate vicinity of Sutter’s Mill…It presents quite a business appearance, and contains more good buildings than any other town of its size in the state…Its hotels, and the ability of its traders to supply the miners, will secure to it a considerable trade.” )

Further along in the Appendix, Jackson presented information about mining and the types of veins of ore he observed. In the final pages, Jackson wrote about the purchase of provisions for mining as, “contractors who will, in any reasonable weather, convey provisions and machines to any of the mining posts.”

The Map and Appendix were reprinted in a revised edition in 1851, only a year after it was originally published. The revised edition included many addenda to the map, such as expanded descriptions of cities. One example of change between the editions reflected the rapid growth in California. In the first edition, Jackson succinctly stated where a miner could find shelter on his way to the diggings as, “trading posts, tents or log houses.” The second edition noted “..the traveller will now find a good eating house or tent at short distances on every route.” Comparing these editions, published only one year apart, attests to the significant population boom in the gold region.

The first edition of the Appendix to Jackson’s Map of the Mining Districts of California is not digitized, however the Library of Congress digitized the second edition. The map is digitized and viewable at several sites. The easiest to use is available for viewing on the Pacific Book Auction Galleries website.

Read the second edition at the Library of Congress here.

View Jackson’s Map at the Pacific Book Auction Galleries here.

Patricia Keats, Director of Library and Archives