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Exhibit: Maps As Art

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Myron Coloney and Sidney B. Fairchild. Ribbon map of the Father of Waters. St. Louis, Mo.: Moeller, 1866.

Original Map: 336 x 7 cm.

Denver Public Library, Western History & Genealogy, STX V CG4042 .M5 1866 .R5 (Map Box)

1866 Coloney and Fairchild Ribbon Map of the Mississippi River

At ten feet in length and just less than three inches in width, the 1866 Colony and Fairchild ribbon map of the Mississippi River is one of the most unusual items in the Western History & Genealogy Map Collection. The map is pulled from a cylinder case and returned with the use of a small metal crank. The ribbon format is intended for use while traveling along the river, but the lack of a take-up reel makes examination of longer lengths awkward. Ribbon and roll maps and charts were later used for early aviation, and continue to be used for long-distance, off-road motorcycle races.

The Colony and Fairchild ribbon map is highly detailed and includes mile markers, ports and river towns. States are denoted along the sides of the map's length.
Notable locations include:

  • St. Anthony Falls, Minnesota: mile 2130
  • Confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers above St. Louis, Missouri: mile 1350
  • Confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers at Cairo, Illinois: mile 1145
  • Numerous plantations and landings below Memphis, Tennessee: mile 905
  • Plantation of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States of America: approximately mile 460

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Updated: June 25, 2013