United States Coast Surveys

1834 Kennebec River - "Road to Canada"


United States Coast Surveys are beautiful vintage charts, many of them hand-colored by John R. Barrows.

United States Coast Survey was created by Congress in 1807 to conduct a “Survey of the Coast”. The idea began with Thomas Jefferson, and had similarities with the 1803-5  Corps of Discovery, Lewis and Clark Expedition in that each included surveys of various and diverse fields; geography, plant and animal inventories, and river systems among others. Not to be overlooked was the value to commerce of both endeavors. USCS Superintendents worked in fields as diverse as astronomy, cartography, meteorology, geodesy, geology, geophysics, hydrography, navigation, oceanography, exploration, pilotage, tides and topography.

First Superintendent, Ferdinand Rudolph Hassler’s plan was to employ triangulation to establish the preliminary surveys. Galeyrie’s collection of earliest Coastal Surveys show this triangulation.

From 1843 to 1867, Alexander Bache was superintendent. He completed the mapping of the entire coast of the United States, followed by Benjamin Peirce. The surveys are very detailed maps whose starting points were the earlier triangulations. These surveys contain information not found on a modern chart – property lines of the coastal area, as well as geological deposits. One will also see archaic spelling of place names & discontinued roads.
Galeyrie has many of the more detailed Coastal Surveys, especially (but not limited to) the coast of Maine. Our inventory includes River Surveys, and Harbor Surveys which contain “Profiles” of the view coming into harbor, helping pilots to steer the correct course.

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