High-resolution scan of the 1877 geological cross sections of the Front Range and Central Colorado excerpted from Hayden’s Geological and Geographical Atlas of Colorado and Portions of Adjacent Territory, Sheet XVII. Digital PDF download. HM-01-17D
These maps are excerpted from the magnificent and unparalleled Colorado atlas volume for Hayden’s Geological Survey of the Territories, including parts of Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona. Concerning this atlas, Hayden wrote in his Ninth Annual Report that “When finished, Colorado will have a better map than any other State in the Union, and the work will be of such a character that it will never need to be done again. Colorado will never support so dense a population that a more detailed survey will be required”.
Upon completion, the Atlas was immediately well received and used by Coloradans, who had had only just received statehood a year earlier. The Atlas required the concerted efforts of all Hayden field parties for several years. During this time, they recorded thousands of survey points, many from high mountain tops of which they were the first to climb and name, using mule trains over rugged terrain and under adverse conditions. Topographer J. T. Gardener’s field party was attacked and almost overrun by hostile Indians while surveying the Sierra La Sal region, losing their stock in the raid (this experience was partly responsible for Gardener’s resignation from the survey – he headed back east where things were a bit more tame).
The panoramic views by W. H. Holmes are some of his finest work, and rank with his famous illustrations of the Grand Canyon. William Goetzmann has called W. H. Holmes “the greatest artist-topographer and man of many talents that the West has ever produced … his artistic technique was like no other’s. He could sketch panoramas of twisted mountain ranges, sloping monoclines, escarpments, plateaus, canyons, fault blocks, and grassy meadows that accurately depicted hundreds of miles of terrain. They were better than maps and better than photographs because he could get details of stratigraphy that light and shadow obscured from the camera…”.
A classic example of Western Americana that exemplifies the best cartographic, geologic, and illustrative work of the Hayden survey.