Research


New York State Dept. of Environmental Conservation Bureau of Real Property Verplanck Colvin Maps of the Adirondack Wilderness

Held by the New York State Archives


Overview of the Records

Repository:

New York State Archives

New York State Education Department

Cultural Education Center

Albany, NY 12230

Summary:
Verplanck Colvin and his field assistants created this series using the field notes they compiled during their survey of the Adirondack wilderness of New York. The majority of the maps are topographical or cadastral maps and typically show elements of the natural and built environment (such as lakes, rivers, ponds, mountains, roads, and railroads) as well as names of property owners, lot numbers, and pertinent landmarks used in land surveying.
Creator:
Title:
Quantity:
0.4 cu. ft. of color microfiches
Inclusive Dates:
1872-1900
Series Number:
B1405
Sponsor:
Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Arrangement

Numerical by assigned map number. Original map series is unarranged, although occasionally related maps were grouped by assigned DEC number.

Administrative History

Verplanck Colvin (1847-1920) was a prominent surveyor and promoter of the Adirondack Park. He began surveying the Adirondacks in 1865. In 1870, he spoke to the New York State Regents about surveying and preserving the Adirondacks. In 1872, the Regents appointed him the Supervisor of the State Survey and established the Commission of State Parks to investigate setting up the Adirondack Park. By 1880 Colvin had completed the most thorough survey of the Adirondacks ever accomplished. He continued to work as the State Surveyor for twenty-eight years. During the time he was carrying out his survey work, he gave speeches and campaigned for the establishment of the Adirondack Park. In 1900, after thirty-five years of advocating his cause, Colvin inexplicably abandoned the crusade. He died in 1920 in a hospital for the mentally ill.

This series of maps was produced as a result of Chapter 733 of the Laws of 1872, passed by the New York State Legislature to appropriate money "to aid in completing a survey of the Adirondack wilderness of New York." Chapter 848 of the Laws of 1872 appointed commissioners for two years to survey "the timber regions lying within counties (of the Adirondack region)," in order to convert the land into a public park. The Superintendent of the State Land Survey was empowered to conduct any surveys the State Comptroller and the State Forestry Commission authorized to settle disputed boundary titles. Periodic appropriations were passed to continue the survey. Verplanck Colvin, as Superintendent of the Adirondack Survey (later the Superintendent of the State Land Survey), and his assistants conducted the survey during the 1870s and 1890s.

Scope and Content Note

Verplanck Colvin and his field assistants created this series using the field notes they compiled during their survey of the Adirondack wilderness of New York in the 1870s and 1890s. The majority of the maps are topographical or cadastral maps and typically show elements of the natural and built environment (such as lakes, rivers, ponds, mountains, roads, and railroads) as well as names of property owners, lot numbers, and pertinent landmarks used in land surveying. Land and features depicted on the maps cover areas in Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, Herkimer, and Oneida counties; Totten and Crossfield's Purchase and MaComb's Purchase; Vrooman's Patent; and the Old Military Tract. Primary delineators of the maps include Colvin and his assistants: Blake, Francisco, Hutchins, LeFevre, Locke, Richards, Snell, Thew, Tweedy and Wilson. Other delineators named on the maps are Anderson, Arnold, Averill, Broadwell, Burrus, Case, Chase, Cooper, Curtis, Davis, Gere, Horsford, Johnson, Jones, Kellogg, Quirk, Richard, Shaw, Steele, Stoddard, Straug, Vaughan, and Ward.

There appears to be no internal arrangement for the maps. Occasionally, several related maps are grouped together by a number that was assigned by staff of the Department of Environmental Conservation at an unknown date. These numbers have been retained in an electronic index to the maps prepared by State Archives staff. The database includes data elements such as title, county, delineator, date, size, scale and significant landmarks for each map.

Items Online

Digital Collection

Please note that only a portion of this series has been included in this digital collection. Other items exist that are not available online.

Link to items online Browse items online

Use of Records

Access Restrictions

There are no restrictions regarding access to or use of the material.

Alternate Formats Available

Scanned images of a sample of maps are available at the New York State Archives.

Microfilm 337 fiche; 105 mm.

Related Information

Related Materials

Series B1406 Field Books of Verplanck Colvin for the Adirondack Survey, [ca.1872-1900]

Other finding aids

An electronic index (database) is available; an item list is available for 42 maps selected for the NEH Environmental History Project.

Custodial History

Original maps held by Dept. of Environmental Conservation.

Location of Original MaterialOriginals held by Dept. of Environmental Conservation.

Processing Information

In 1995, 336 maps of the original 512 maps held by the Department of Environmental Conservation were reformatted on to microfiche under a project sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities. In 2004, 42 maps from the microfiche were digitized under another cooperative project sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities. The maps were selected for their major importance to the survey and New York's environmental history. The majority of those selected are manuscript maps, with the exception of a few important annotated print maps. Most of the maps are drawn with color media, including graphite pencil, colored pencil, ink, and watercolor.

Access Terms

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Detailed Description

Contents Box

Accretion: B1405-96
Microfiche of Map Nos. 1 - 513 1