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A Traveling Map, Part II: 1867 Holtz Map of Texas and Marcy's 1852 Red River Expedition

Updated: Aug 19, 2023

An 1867 Map with lots of History to tell


Map of the southwestern Red River Valley
This map, drawn by Helmuth Holtz and G. L. Gillespie, labels the areas from Marcy's observations, which were released by the U.S. government in a journal called, aptly enough, "Exploration of the Red River of Louisiana, in the year 1852" (Library of Congress)

This 1867 map shows all of the stage and major mail roads, past and present, that crossed Texas by 1867. I'm going to share portions of this gargantuan map (it's 19 x 7 feet!) extensively in the upcoming months. The first area I share now involves one of my favorite historical figures, Randolph B. Marcy... Holtz's 1867 map records Marcy's 1852 Red River Expedition!


In 1852, Captain Marcy of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and his second command (and future son-in-law) George B. McClellan were tasked to document the source of the Red River. Since Marcy was well acquainted with the Red River region after establishing a gold route and Fort Arbuckle in today's Garvin County, Oklahoma, he was able to minutely document the region's flora, fauna, geology, paleontology, and even the languages of the people he met.


The map, drawn by Helmuth Holtz and G. L. Gillespie, labels Marcy's 1852 Red River expedition, recording Marcy's observations, which were released by the U.S. government in a journal called, aptly enough, "Exploration of the Red River of Louisiana, in the year 1852." I conveniently color coded some of the notations for your perusal, and even found corresponding journal entries for them.


Blue circle

That's Marcy's route in 1852!


Red circle

Marcy encountered millions of prairie dog mounds, which he described: "Our road during the whole day has passed through a continuous dog-town, and we were often obliged to turn out of our course to avoid the little mounds around their burrows... so incessant is the clatter of the barking, that i requires but little effort of the imagination to fancy oneself surrounded by the busy hum of a city."


Yellow circle

The map misspells the Comanche word for this portion of the river, Ke-che-a- ui-ho-no; according to Marcy, the name translates to "Prairie-dog-town river."


Green circle

This creek was named after George B. McClellan by Randolph B. Marcy. "I have called this "McClellan's creek," in compliment to my friend Captain McClellan, who I believe to be the first white man that ever set eyes upon it."


Pink circle

Marcy described gypsum deposits that he saw past the Caprock in areas that are today part of Caprock Canyon State Park and Palo Duro Canyon State Park in Texas. He wrote about this to Dr. Shumard, a geologist, who wrote back that "the only deposites [sic] of gypsum known to me that are more extensive than the one found by you [meaning, Marcy] discovered are in South America."


Gray circle

While trying to lure antelopes with a "deer-bleat, which one of the Delawares had made for me," Marcy suddenly came face-to-face with "a tremendous panther bounding at full speed directly towards me" which he killed. This occasion was commemorated by naming the body of water where the antelopes were grazing Panther Pond.


I guess this is fun with maps and fun with journals!


To see the full map at the Library of Congress, click https://www.loc.gov/item/2002622358/

To read Marcy's journal online, go to the Portal of Texas History: https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth6105/

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