WELCOME Early Road Maps of Pennsylvania WELCOME

This page includes a selection of 19th century maps that show roads. The government prepared geological and topographical survey maps starting in the 19th century and many included roads. By 1900 detailed survey maps were available for most northeastern states, and were used by commercial vendors as the basis for their own maps. However, systematic mapping of Pennsylvania roads and the installation of route signs by the government did not occur until the auto arrived.

Automobile road maps were preceded by bicycle maps. Back then it was not clear if bicycles or automobiles would dominate and road improvements were made as much for bicycles as cars. Prior to 1895, the demand for good road maps came from bicyclists. From around 1895 to 1905, automobilists and bicyclists vied for control of the roads, and from 1905 on the automobile had won out. The first automobile road map in the United States is generally credited to the Chicago Times-Herald newspaper, which printed a route map in 1895 for a race they sponsored from Chicago to Waukegan, see Ristow (1946) or Yagoda.

Larger scale county maps often included roads, and maps of urban areas were sometimes called 'driving' maps; it was left unclear whether carriages, bicycles, trollies, or autos were to be driven. The 19th century county atlases produced by publishers like Beers, Everts, Caldwell, etc. included large scale township maps with roads shown.

1822 MAP OF THE NATIONAL ROAD BETWEEN CUMBERLAND AND WHEELING, Engraved for J. Melish's Description of the United States & Travellers Directory. This is one of the earliest maps of the old National Road across southwestern Pennsylvania. Many towns are shown, including W. Alexandria, Washington, Union(town) in heavier type. The map is printed on very thin paper, originally folded, and from A Geographical Description of the United States, with the Contiguous British and Spanish Possessions, by John Melish, Philadelphia 1822. The first edition appeared in 1816, but the 1822 edition had 12 regional maps including this one. The National Road west (originally called the Cumberland Road) was proposed in an 1806 Act of Congress. The act was signed by President Jefferson who appointed the first commissioners. It was planned as a way to tie the states being created from the old Northwest Territory, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, into the east. Construction began on the section west from Cumberland in 1811. By 1818 coaches were running between Washington and Wheeling. In 1819 construction came to a halt due to a financial panic. In 1822 a bill for repair of the road and authority to collect tolls passed the Congress, but was vetoed by President Monroe. He held that Congress did not have the right of jurisdiction and construction, but Monroe also recommended a national system of internal improvements. A number of alternatives were examined for additional 'National Roads', including a route up the Susquehanna River valley (see the 1827 map in 19th Century maps). However only the Old National Road, today's US 40, was constructed by the Federal government during the 19th century. It was continued west across Ohio in the late 1820's eventually reaching Vandalia, then the capital of Illinois. There is a National Road Museum in Zanesville, Ohio, and many books have been written about the road. No Longitude, blank verso. Scale: 1 inch = 10 miles. Size: 6 x 11 inches.
1826 MAP OF A RECONNAISSANCE BETWEEN BALTIMORE AND PHILADELPHIA, EXHIBITING THE SEVERAL ROUTES OF THE MAIL ROAD CONTEMPLATED BY THE RESOLUTION OF CONGRESS APPROVED ON THE 4th OF MAY 1826. S. Bernard Brigr. Genl. Member of the Board of Intl. Improt. William Tell Poussin Capt. Top. Engs. and Assistant to the Board. This long, narrow map shows roads from Philadelphia west into Delaware and Maryland. Only eastern and western sections including Pennsylvania are shown here; about one third of the map includes the state. The date given is that of the resolution and the map was published around the same time, but exactly when is not known. Blank verso. Scale: 1 inch = 3 miles. Size: 9 x 31 inches.
1848 A VIEW OF THE LAW OF ROADS, HIGHWAYS, BRIDGES AND FERRIES IN PENNSYLVANIA. By William Duane, Esq. Philadelphia: James Kay, Jun. & Brother, 183 1/2 Market Street. 1848. This is a 156 page book with excerpts of law on roads; the spine title reads "Duane's Road Law." There are no maps or illustrations, just a discussion of road law for (no doubt disgruntled) travelers. The first two chapters on pages 13, 14-15, and 16-17 are shown here. Size: 8 x 5 inches.
1867 BARNES' DRIVING MAP OF PHILADELPHIA AND SURROUNDINGS. From surveys and records by H. E. B. Taylor. Published by R. L. Barnes, 27 Sth. 6th. Street Philadelphia 1867. Printed by F. Bourquin. This is the earliest map seen labeled as a "driving" map, though only stages and buggys were driven then (well, and locomotives and boats). It includes the city, adjacent New Jersey, and much of Delaware and Montgomery county. This map is quite detailed, showing hotels, businesses, streets and roads, and railroads. It is surrounded by scroll work similar to that on Mitchell or Colton maps from this period. The map was originally folded and either had a cover or was an insert into a book. It is printed on thin paper and hard to handle without tearing, so hardly appropriate for busy drivers. Blank verso. Scale: 1 inch = 0.75 mile. Size: 28 x 30 inches.
1888 NEW DRIVING MAP OF PHILADELPHIA AND VICINITY, published by J. L. Smith, 27 South Sixth St., Phila. Pa. This is a linen backed traveler's pocket map from the pre-automobile era. It folds into a stiff black 6 x 4 inch cover with the title SMITH'S MAP OF PHILADELPHIA AND VICINITY. The map covers Philadelphia and the inner areas of surrounding counties including New Jersey. Views of the title area and southwest section of the map are shown here. At this large scale, turnpikes (i. e. toll roads), local roads, rail lines, canals and even individual houses are shown. This is a later version of the R. L. Barnes map above. Smith worked for Barnes and took over his business around 1870. Blank verso. Scale: 1" = 1 mile. Size: 26 x 22 inches.
1889 PA.-MD.-N.J.-DEL. ROAD BOOK. Inside is the title ‘League of American Wheelmen Road Book of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, and Delaware, and the principal through routes of New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Virginia. Fifth Edition 1889. Based on the original edition compiled by Henry S. Wood, and revised and enlarged by the Road Book Committee of the Pennsylvania Division. This is a road map booklet of about 260 numbered pages giving directions for about 250 different routes covering the states named. Information provided includes distance between points, material of road, grade of road and condition at its best, turning directions. There are 8 maps attached to the back: Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, New Jersey, Newark, Maryland, New York City area, Staten Island, Long Island. The maps are about 5 x 8 inches. The cover is a leatherette material. Size: 4 x 6.75 inches.
1890 MAP OF SUSQUEHANNA TP., page 69 from The Illustrated Historical Combination Atlas of Cambria County, Pennsylvania by J. A. Caldwell (LeGear L3016). The scale on this township map, from one of the last of the classic county atlases, is about 1 inch = 0.7 mile and the roads are shown by double lines. These large scale local maps were prepared mostly from government survey maps, but also from the personal observations of the surveyors, salesmen, and sketch artists selling the county atlas subscriptions. Cherry Tree, shown at upper left and originally called Canoe Place, was a boundary point for the Purchase Line of 1768 and there is a large commemorative monument there near the river. Size: 15 x 12 inches.
1892 ROAD AND TOWNSHIP MAP OF LANCASTER COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA, published by The County Publishing Co., North Duke St., Lancaster, Pa; entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1892 by A. S. Johns and T. J. Hughes. Here is an example of a pre-auto road map in the form of a local county map. It is inset with an index of towns and looks similar to a map that might have appeared in a county atlas. The map folds into an attached gray heavy paper cover with the title above and below the vendor L. B. Herr, Books and Stationery, Lancaster, Pa. The main roads out of town are marked in red. Blank verso. Scale: 1" = ~1 mile. Size: 20 x 22 inches.
1893 ROAD BOOK OF THE PENNSYLVANIA DIVISION, L.A.W., Seventh edition 1893. Based on the original edition compiled by Henry S. Wood, and revised and enlarged by the Road Book Committee of the Pennsylvania Division. As shown in this view inside is the alternative title LEAGUE OF AMERICAN WHEELMEN ROAD BOOK OF PENNSYLVANIA, NEW JERSEY, MARYLAND, AND DELAWARE, AND THE PRINCIPAL THROUGH ROUTES OF NEW YORK, CONNECTICUT, MASSACHUSETTS, RHODE ISLAND, AND VIRGINIA. Maccalla & Company, Printers, 237-9 Dock Street, Philadelphia. This booklet resembles the 1889 edition shown above. There are six maps attached to the back: Philadelphia, Fairmount Park, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, and New York City. The larger maps are 7 x 12 inches and the smaller half that.
1895 SECOND ANNUAL ROAD RACE OF THE CANONSBURG CYCLE CLUB, Canonsburg, Pa. Saturday, August 10, 1895. Published by the Canonsburg Cycle Club, W. L. McLoy, Secretary. This is one sheet folded in two and printed on the four sides to make a booklet. One side contains the road map of the race which runs from Canonsburg through Gretna to Washington (Pa.) and back to Canonsburg. All printing is in blue ink. The inside pages include the rules and an entry form. The first prize Rambler Roadster is likely a bicycle and not a car.
1896 LEAGUE OF AMERICAN WHEELMEN ISSUE OF BEST ROUTES IN AND AROUND PHILADELPHIA. WITH MAPS AND ILLUSTRATIONS. Written and illustrated by Frank H. Taylor, 225 South Fifth Street, Philadelphia. 1896. This is a road map booklet for the city area. The map is printed on both sides and is very similar to the map in the 1897 book below, as shown in this Map Image . However, this map is titled BEST ROUTES CYCLING AND DRIVING MAP OF PHILADELPHIA. Published by Frank H. Taylor, G.W. Bromley & Co. Lith. 1896. The verso shows western Philadelphia with part of adjacent counties.
1897 SECTIONAL ROAD MAP PHILADELPHIA TO NEW BRUNSWICK AND PLAINFIELD, N.J. SHOWING THE GOOD ROADS. Published by R.D. Servoss, 9 to 15 Murray St., New York. There are two 9 x 28 inch strip road maps copyright 1897 by Servoss in this folder. One is pasted on the back cover and shows a route to Plainfield through New Jersey. The other map is pasted on the front cover with the title above. It shows routes from Philadelphia to Trenton running up both sides of the Delaware River. An included sheet contains hand written route notes for a bike ride in 1905.
1898 PENNSYLVANIA ROAD BOOK -1898 - WESTERN SECTION, compiled by W. West Randall and Carl Hering of the Road Book Committee of the Pennsylvania Division, L.A.W. ( i. e. League of American Wheelmen, a bicycle club). This is an 84 page cloth cover book containing 71 pages of detailed road maps of Western Pennsylvania, a few pages with tours you can take (i.e. Waynesboro, Pa. to Natural Bridge, Va. etc.) and a town index. There is a similar book for the eastern section of the state, see 1900 in Road Maps. The maps cover the state from Harrisburg west with a scale of 1" = 5 miles. Stone (called winter) roads are shown in bold line, dirt (or summer) roads in lighter line. On the Map Image of a northwest part of the state, the dark lines are 'good summer roads', the dashed lines 'fair summer roads'; there are no 'winter roads' in this area. Rail lines are also shown, perhaps so the bike rider can get back home. Bicycle maps were a forerunner of automobile maps and were actually better than the early auto maps because they showed more detail and more care was taken in their preparation as they were made specifically for club members. Book size: 7.5 x 4.5 inches.
1899 CYCLISTS' ROAD MAP OF THE PHILADELPHIA DISTRICT showing all the roads and points of interest with the cycling roads distinguished by red lines, published by Geo. H. Walker & Co., Lithographers, 221 High St. near Rowes Wharf, Boston, Mass. The map shows all of Philadelphia and the inner parts of surrounding counties, including New Jersey. The street names and roads for bicycle riding are marked in red. The image shows just the western suburbs of Philly and the paper cover the map folds into. Scale: 1 inch = 1.25 miles. Size: 26.5 x 32 inches.
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