Telling the story of 200 years  of White Mountain History
                         1881 Walling Map

      Henry F. Walling. Map of the White Mountains of 
    New Hampshire
from Walling’s Map of the State
                New York: Julius Bien, 1881.
Scale 1 inch = 2.5 miles. Contour interval 100 feet.
                             60.8 x 71.6 cm.

                                                         Courtesy Harvard College 

Henry F. Walling (1825-1888) was a prodigious cartographer of the Northeast and Middle West of the United States, and he was the founding treasurer of the Appalachian Mountain Club. The “Map of the State” refers to Walling’s Atlas of the State of New Hampshire (New York: Comstock and Cline, 1877, maps printed by Julius Bien), which contains county maps whose scale is unstated, but appears to be the same. The level of precision in this map is clearly far greater than that of any earlier map of the region.  Walling was able to make use of the complete triangulation of the state by the U.S. Coast Survey, as well as a complete odometer survey of the state conducted between 1855 and 1860. The contour lines were drawn by the geologist Warren Upham (1850-1934), and the preface to Walling’s Atlas states:


The immense labor of drawing these contours from the scanty data available, can hardly be realized by one who has not attempted it. Of course they are to a certain extent conjectural…


Although this map, first published in June 1877, appears to be identical to the maps in the atlas, it is subtly different, at least in its treatment of hiking trails. In the atlas, the Lancaster Path still appears, labeled and distinctly leading over the summit of Mt. Jefferson to Mt. Washington, even though by this date the path was described as “long discontinued” and “overgrown.” It is today untraceable. On this map, in contrast, the Lancaster Path is correctly shown passing over Monticello Lawn and then following the route now taken by the Gulfside Trail to the summit of Mount Washington. There are representations of the beginning of what is today a network of trails on the northwestern slopes of the northern Presidentials, with Lowe’s Path and the King Ravine Trail, as well as spur trails to the summit of Mount Jefferson and Mount Madison. This was not the first contour map of the White Mountains; that distinction belongs to “Map of the White Mt. District Showing Locations of Specimens and Contour Lines for Each 500 ft above the Sea,” published in heliotype only slightly earlier in Appalachia, vol. 1, no. 2 (March 1877). It is more than likely that this map draws upon the same data upon which Walling based his map. Contour lines came to the White Mountains comparatively late.  They originated as a means of depicting depths at sea. Even in New England, they had been used to represent land elevations at least half a century before Walling’s map.


Walling’s map indicates longitude as measured from the prime meridian passing through Greenwich, England, although this did not become the official international prime meridian until 1884.


Other states and editions

Walling’s map was issued to accompany Appalachia vol. 1, no. 3 (June 1877), and it was concurrently sold separately.  It was reissued by Bien in 1881. There are at least three states of the first issue. One state, like the one shown here, has hypsometric tints. Another state, apparently more common, lacks the hypsometric tints, even though the map has blank rectangles to be filled in with the color key. A third state lacks both the tints and the key with the rectangles. The 1881 issue came in a pocket version, folded between hinged hard boards.

Click here for a larger PDF version of the map that will allow you zoom in for detail. 

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