Map Showing the Location of the Timber Lands on the Public Domain


Illustrative map of the timber growth on public lands towards the end of the 19th century.

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Published as part of Thomas Donaldson’s monumental work on the public domain, this map is one of several used in the volume to highlight statistical data available on the nation’s economic, industrial and natural resources. Visualized within the red border, the public domain consisted of all territory acquired and owned by the United States since the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, excluding Texas. The General Land Office was the organization responsible for oversight of the public domain; including surveys, sales, bounty distribution and the collection of grazing fees. The latter is still a matter of contention, as evidenced by the Bundy standoff in Oregon in 2016.

This map was produced at an interesting time in America’s western development. Public lands not yet part of Oklahoma are visible, and there are eight western territories yet to be incorporated as states. Much of the timber land is concentrated in the northern, southern and western states, as the Midwest was largely cleared of timber to make way for agricultural pursuits and the Great Plains were devoid of most trees. Alaska was also a huge source of timber, but was under the direct control of the United States government and therefore not considered part of the public domain. In addition to tree density, the map also shows topographical details, gold mines, forts and Indian reservations – all typical of the Mitchell maps upon which this map was based.

Map Details

Publication Date: 1883

Author: Thomas Donaldson

Sheet Width (in): 19

Sheet Height (in): 13

Condition: A

Condition Description: The map is in superb condition, with fold lines as originally issued and a small section of the left margin missing where it was disbound from the publication.