#Lookback: George L. Holt and the Early Maps of the Wyoming Territory

    A series where we take a #lookback at the stories and history of our community, brought to you by Mick Pryor, Financial Advisor with Edward Jones.

    In 1866, Joseph S. Wilson, U.S. Commissioner of the General Land Office, determined that the developing industries in the United States were putting a serious strain on the country’s natural resources. On March 2, 1867, Congress authorized western explorations into the relatively unmapped territories of Western North America to explore the geological characteristics and ascertain the mineral wealth of the West.

    These explorations primarily focused on the geology and natural resources along the fortieth parallel route of the transcontinental railroad. In the late 1860s and into the early 1870s, multiple surveys were held across the American west in search of natural resources to grow the already expanding American industry. Expeditions also documented various landforms, botany, and cultural interactions, bringing the beauty of the West to government officials in the eastern states.

    Several of these explorations traveled through, or were centered in, the state of Wyoming. Though many expeditions were funded through Congress who frequently supported the geographical exploration of the various Western Territories of the United States, several expeditions were also privately sponsored in the sake of financial interests. In 1871, geologist Ferdinand Hayden led the first federally funded geological survey of northwestern Wyoming which became the Yellowstone National Park the following year. 

    However, the maps and notes created during these expeditions were mainly for the benefit of the government and businesses that sought to capitalize on the wealth of natural resources in the West. It wasn’t until the 1880s when the first maps of the West became readily available for the average citizen. In Wyoming, George L. Holt, a notable cartographer, druggist, businessman, and publisher residing in Wyoming produced the first commercially published maps of Wyoming that displayed the territory in significant detail.

    Holt produced and published a detailed map of Wyoming from 1883 to 1887 which he advertised as the first truly accurate map of Wyoming. While producing the first detailed and widely accessible maps of Wyoming, Holt also ran a drugstore in Cheyenne until he moved to Buffalo where he operated his store until 1920 where he remained a board member of the First Bank of Buffalo.

    Come visit the Riverton Museum and see the first map created by George L. Holt: “Holt’s New Map of Wyoming” dated 1883.

    Author: Kevin Scannell

    Next up for the Fremont County Museum

    March 3, 4-6pm at the Pioneer Museum, “Celebrating Women’s History Month” Wyoming Community Bank Discovery Speakers Series

    March 14, 7pm at the Pioneer Museum, “Wyoming State Flag History” Wyoming Community Bank Discovery Speakers Series

    March 27, 6pm at the Dubois Museum, “Bruce Blevins: Mapping Yellowstone” Wyoming Community Bank Discovery Speakers Series

    Call the Dubois Museum 1-307-455-2284, the Pioneer Museum 1-307-332-3339 or the Riverton Museum 1-307-856-2665 for detail regarding their programs.

    The Wind River Cultural Centers Foundation has been created to specifically benefit The Dubois Museum, the Pioneer Museum in Lander and the Riverton Museum.  The WRCCF will help deliver the long term financial support our museums need to flourish.  In the current economic environment, the museums are more reliant than ever on donations from the private sector to continue to provide the quality programs, collections management, exhibits and services that have become their hallmark over the last four years.  Please make your tax deductible contribution to be used specifically for the benefit of the museum of your choosing by sending a check to Wind River Cultural Centers Foundation at PO Box 1863 Lander, WY 82520 or taking it directly to the museum you choose to support.  

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