Cartography of Oregon, 1507-1848, by James Walker.
The cartographic history of Oregon as a place in the Pacific Northwest began long before European visitation to the region. Mapmakers initially conceptualized the presence of a separate North American continent in 1507, some 234 years before the first recorded sighting of a landmark on the Pacific Northwest coast in 1741 and 315 years before the word Oregon identified a region on a map in 1822.
Mapmakers always drew on a variety of sources to represent territory. For the Pacific Northwest, these included actual and apocryphal accounts of explorations as well as long-established geographical concepts of a navigable water passage above the continent (the Northwest Passage) or through it (the River of the West). Thus, ideas of what a place looked like were shaped by ideas about how one could get there.
Voyages of Russians, Spanish, English, French, and Americans in the eighteenth century resulted in a reasonably accurate cartographic rendering of the North Pacific coast. During the first half of the nineteenth century, sources of information for mapmakers were explorers, statesmen, politicians, and entrepreneurs; and maps reflected ambitions, ideologies, and attempts to claim, name, and tame the region. Read the full entry
- HS.41 Use maps, satellite images, photographs, and other representations to explain relationships between the locations of places and regions and their political, cultural, and economic dynamics.
- HS.42 Use geographic data to analyze the interconnectedness of physical and human regional systems (such as a river valley and culture, water rights/use in regions, choice/impact of settlement locations) and their interconnectedness to global communities.
- HS.43 Analyze the reciprocal nature of how historical events and spatial diffusion of ideas, technologies, and cultural practices have influenced migration patterns and the distribution of human population.
- HS.46 Assess how changes in the environmental and cultural characteristics of a place or region influence spatial patterns of trade, land use, and issues of sustainability.
- HS.49 Assess the impact of human settlement activities on the environmental and cultural characteristics of specific places and regions.
- HS.52 Identify and analyze how map-making, zoning, and other policy decisions create social, political, and economic realities for various population groups.
Oregon Encyclopedia Entries
Burden, Philip. The Mapping of North America: A List of Printed Maps 1511-1670. London: Raleigh Publications, 1996.
Hayes, Derek. Historical Atlas of the Pacific Northwest. Seattle: Sasquatch Books, 1999.
Wagner, Henry. The Cartography of the Northwest Coast of America to the Year 1800 (Reprint) Amsterdam: N. Israel, 1968 (1937).
Wheat, Carl. Mapping the Transmississippi West. San Francisco, Calif.: The Institute of Historical Cartography, 1959.
Additional Lesson Plans
CiteThe OE Staff. The Changing Shape of North America. 2020. Retrieved from The Oregon Encyclopedia, https://www.oregonencyclopedia.org/packets/3. (Accessed May 16, 2022.)
Have students read about and examine Map #1 The Russian Discoveries What advantages did Russians have over Western Europeans in their attempts to explore and map the Northwest Coast?
Have students read about and examine Map# 4 Map of the Americas, 1606 and Map #5 An Accurate Map of North America, c. 1780 What do maps 4 and 5 and the previous three maps reveal about Russian, European, and American ideas of the Far West before the end of the eighteenth century?
Have students examine and read about Map # 6 New Map of North America, 1806 and Map # 7 Map of Lewis and Clark's Track How did Lewis and Clark's overland exploration of the Far West change the world's understanding of its geography?