A Cartograph indicating some of the points of interest along the route of National Park Airways…

Rare pictorial map promoting the short-lived (and misleadingly-named) National Parks Airways.

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This charming and abstract pictorial map covers a broad region across the western United States between Salt Lake City, Utah (lower left) and Great Falls, Montana (upper right). Delightful vignettes, possibly designed by Ruth Taylor White, represent National Parks, the skylines of major cities, and individuals engaged in a variety of outdoor activities.

The cartograph was designed to promote the operations of the National Parks Airways, established as an air-mail carrier to remote areas around Yellowstone in 1927, though not officially affiliated with the National Park system. Passenger service was limited, as the fleet’s 3 Fokker Super-Universal planes (seen in the upper left) could only hold four people, and the U.S. Postal Service subsidized mail-carrying, encouraging growth in early commercial aviation. According to text on the verso, the brochure was printed in 1929 to commemorate the 2nd anniversary of Charles Lindbergh’s Transatlantic Flight.

This particular example was distributed by the Ogden, Utah Chamber of Commerce to highlight the city’s new airport (opened in 1928) and its position as the ‘Gateway to the West’ and ‘Utah’s Industrial Center.’ Presumably, the city also became a stop along the route of National Park Airways until the company was absorbed by Western Airways in 1937.

The map is rare, and the only other (slightly different) example I’ve found is located at the Butte-Silver Bow Public Archives. According to the catalog entry, their example was issued on “the occasion of the opening of the magnificent new hanger and shops of the National Parks Airways, Inc. at Butte, Montana July 18, 1929.”

A second cartograph, of similar size, sharing the same artistic style, and covering Southern California, was signed by Ruth Taylor White and published by Western Air Express, also in 1929. Though White’s signature cannot be found on the National Park Airways map, it’s possible it was also created by the talented cartographer.

Sources: Atlas Obscura; Butte Public Archives

Map Details

Publication Date: 1929

Author: Ruth Taylor White?

Sheet Width (in): 10.25

Sheet Height (in): 7

Condition: A-

Condition Description: Lightly worn along the outer edges and along the vertical centerfold, consistent with age and use. A bit of bleeding from the printing on the verso is visible in the title block and the upper corners are creased. Very good overall.

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