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NM Centennial

An Atlas of Historic New Mexico Maps, 15501941

Unit Two: Surveys and Railroads:1892

After acquiring New Mexico, Arizona, and California, it remained for the US to establish the border, collect other scientific information about the new properties, and find optimal routes for transcontinental transportation systems. Railroad surveys every few degrees of latitude determined the routes of the new transcontinental railroads. The surveys introduced the peoples, customs, landscapes, and strange place names to the American public through a series of major government reports. Geologists mapped out likely areas for mineral exploitation; astronomers and engineers identified fairly accurate coordinates and built markers. Botanists and biologists catalogued new species, and artists created sketches of landscapes, people, and the diverse natural world.

The railroads, having been gifted millions of acres along their lines, created their own Americanized place names, and the Southern Pacific Railroad corporation enticed homesteaders to buy their lands, by touting thriving agrarian and industrial enterprises in southern New Mexico. The Southern Pacific Railroad Company started Sunset Magazine, which offered a rosy view of homesteading in the arid southwestern deserts. Later maps of New Mexico show the harsh reality: most the towns planned by the Southern Pacific- and many of the mining and ranching communities from this era- remain merely placenames on a map.


In completion of this lesson, students will:

Read, analyze, and compare historic maps and other historic materials.

Use this information to consider and discuss the impact of the major government surveys that led to the construction of transcontinental railroads.

Evaluate the success of railroad communities in New Mexico, and determine the factors that contributed to success or failure of specific communities.

Students completing extension work will additionally:

Work individually or collaboratively to research a historic place and create a digital map of this place, including a marker with descriptive text and an appropriate photograph.

Contribute to digital archives.







yield (agriculture)

lift (agriculture)










dry farming



Emory 1857

(Bartlett/ Copper mines)








Whipple 1867


rancho, ranchero: farm






Activity I: Surveyors

Compare the following maps:

William H. Emory: Map of The United States and Their Territories Between The Mississippi & the Pacific Ocean And Part Of Mexico : 1857

U.S. Topo Bureau: Old Territory and Military Department of New Mexico : 1867

Students should read the accounts by Bartlett, Emory, Whipple, and Mollhausen & look at the pictures.

Ask the students:

Why were Emory, Bartlett, and Whipple surveying?

What else did they learn?

Why did artists accompany them on their expeditions?

What is the significance of a southern border for New Mexicans?

Ask them to consider Bartlett's statements in San Elizario & the Copper Mines markers. Who does he blame for unrest in southern New Mexico?

What were other changes Americans were bringing to New Mexico?

Ask students to discuss the surveyors' descriptions of existing settlements. They can consider accounts of encounters with the Pueblos at San Domingo, Laguna, Isleta, Ojo del Pescado, and Zuni Pueblo.

Ask them to consider how the scientific expedition might have unacceptably crossed cultural boundaries.

Consider descriptions of Hispanic New Mexicans in Anton Chico, Cuesta, Galisteo, Sieneguilla, Albuquerque, Padillo, and Cubero.

What adjectives the surveyors use to describe Hispanics versus Pueblos. Were these adjectives fact or opinion?

Does difference in intended audience affect the tone used or the information imparted by the different writers? Students should give examples to support their thesis.

How do they think attitudes and perspectives from the early Territorial days influence contemporary values?

Would the government produce documents like these today? Why or why not?

William H. Emory: Map of The United States and Their Territories Between The Mississippi & the Pacific Ocean And Part Of Mexico : 1857

U.S. Topo Bureau: Old Territory and Military Department of New Mexico: 1867

Activity II: Railroad Boosters

Poole Brothers: The Correct Map of Railway and Steamship Lines Operated by the Southern Pacific Company: 1892

Read excerpts from Sunset Magazine & Otero's Report.

Students should list all the names recorded in Sunset Magazine then look at place names on the map. How many recognizably Spanish or native names do they see?

How does Emory assess the agricultural potential of this region (see Treaty Line 1848)? How does the Southern Pacific represent it? Ask students to account for the difference.

Have students adjust transparency to show underlying modern map, or switch to "Today" view to see current map of New Mexico.

Ask them to look for the places shown in the 1892 map. Are they there? What happened to them? On the board, make three columns, and list communities the students identify as still existing, no longer existing, or flourishing.

Students should discuss:

How did the Gadsden purchase affect industrial development in southern New Mexico? Was this a lasting change?

What advances in technology affected agricultural and industrial growth?

How did the government contribute to the growth?

What success stories does Sunset write about? Were these lasting changes?

What other industries did the railroad bring to New Mexico?

Answers may include tourism, invalids, agriculture, mining, reclamation & dam building; bringing equipment for heavy construction.

Ask students to consider and/or research online:

What is the state of these communities today?

What communities are flourishing today that didn't exist in 1892?

What are reasons for some communities prospering and some failing?

Poole Brothers: The Correct Map of Railway and Steamship Lines Operated by the Southern Pacific Company: 1892

Activity III: Google Earth extension; adding existing media to markers

Student Research

Many of the communities shown on the 1892 map have not survived. Have students research the fate of the communities shown on this map.

Ask students: Why did so many of these places disappear? What contributed to the success of surviving communities?

Each student or small group (see Note to Teachers for general guidelines) should pick a community shown on the 1892 map, and learn about the factors that contributed to its success or decline. Students should write 2-3 paragraphs on the history of this area, to answer the following questions:

Who founded this community? To what purpose?

Who lived here originally?

Who settled here?

Was the community founded around a single industry?

Students can research online, using keyword searches. A useful reference is Place Names of New Mexico by Robert Julyan (see bibliography).

Each marker should have bibliographic references, including links to online references. See Unit 1 for more information.

Adding Images to Markers

Students should research or originate images for their marker. Resources for finding and adding historical images are in the section on Adding Your Own Maps. Students can additionally create their own digital illustrations, photographs, or graphics to accompany the entry.

Have them consider:

What do images tell us that words can't?

Are we more likely to get information from images or words?

Since your text space is limited, can you find images that tell parts of the story you left out?

To add an image to a marker, the image must be on the internet. If it is already on the internet on an image sharing site, a student can generally click on the "Link" button, copy the code for embedding images, and paste it into the text description on the marker. If the code is not available, students can embed images by using the following code (without spaces between the letters):

< i m g s r c = "http://www.website.com/DescriptiveImage.jpg" > ).

Sample KML file containing this example


Did the student:

Read and comprehend the material?

Interpret the material to draw conclusions about the impact of geography on trans-national expansion?

Communicate findings in discussion and writing accordin to grade-level standards?

Collaborate or work individually to produce hypertext media to present his or her findings?

Support spoken or written assertions with references?

Use a variety of resources to gather information?


Key Ideas and Details:


Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.


Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.


Analyze in detail a series of events described in a text; determine whether earlier events caused later ones or simply preceded them.

Craft and Structure:/b>


Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary describing political, social, or economic aspects of history/social science.


Analyze how a text uses structure to emphasize key points or advance an explanation or analysis.


Compare the point of view of two or more authors for how they treat the same or similar topics, including which details they include and emphasize in their respective accounts.

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas:/b>


Integrate quantitative or technical analysis (e.g., charts, research data) with qualitative analysis in print or digital text.


Assess the extent to which the reasoning and evidence in a text support the author's claims.


Compare and contrast treatments of the same topic in several primary and secondary sources.

Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity:/b>


By the end of grade 10, read and comprehend history/social studies texts in the grades 9-10 text complexity band independently and proficiently.

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