A review of An Atlas of Historic New Mexico Maps

  • A.J. Johnson's 1860 California, Territories of New Mexico and Utah map.

    Courtesy of University of New Mexico Press
  • An 1882 bird's-eye view of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

    Courtesy of University of New Mexico Press
 

An Atlas of Historic New Mexico Maps 1550-1941.
Peter L. Eidenbach,
184 pages, hardcover:
$45.
University of New Mexico Press, 2012.

In this colorful collection of maps, archaeologist and historian Peter L. Eidenbach presents the Land of Enchantment as seen by early conquerors, naturalists, surveyors, and railroaders. Geologically speaking, New Mexico has been mostly static during the flicker of time that defines its settlement by Europeans. But on paper, as sketched by those newcomers struggling to comprehend a foreign place, the landscape is ever-changing: shorelines drift, mountain ranges morph, and all manner of lines cut the land to pieces. The intricate maps -- many of them rarely seen before by the public -- are beautiful in and of themselves; explanatory text accompanies each. Eidenbach's purpose, ultimately, is to tell the story of New Mexico, starting with the understanding that "history without geography is incomplete and misleading."