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State Historical Society of Iowa

Sectional Map of Iowa, 1850

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The map of the state of Iowa has greater detail for the eastern third and southeastern corner of the state. Major rivers are included and named. A profile of the Des Moines River is included at the bottom of the map of the state. Cities and some towns are labeled on the map, and the roads and proposed railroads are also included.
Courtesy of Library of Congress, Carleton, Guy H., "Sectional Map of the State of Iowa," 1850


This map was drawn by Deputy U.S. Surveyor Guy H. Carleton. The map used information gathered during the U.S. surveys of Iowa. The numbering of sections was based on the Fifth Principal Meridian and its baseline (see note in lower left corner of the map). Carleton included additional information about the "improvements" to the state, which had been built as a consequence of settlement. Railroads were rapidly becoming an important feature in the nation's economic development, which may explain Carleton's inclusion of proposed railroads in the map.

Source-Dependent Questions

  • According to this map, how was the settlement of Iowa progressing? Consider where it started and how it was moving physically across Iowa. Also consider where the largest populations were found. Refer to the 1850/1860 U.S. Census tables to identify the locations with larger populations. 
  • What features were emphasized on this map and how would they contribute to economic growth?
  • Using the 1850/1860 census data, locate the largest cities/towns in each of the counties bordering the Mississippi River. What is significant about their locations, and how would their locations have contributed to their growth?

Citation Information 

Carleton, Guy H., "Sectional Map of the State of Iowa," 1850. Courtesy of Library of Congress