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Southern California land cover, 1881

Southern California land cover, 1881

LA land cover map

Around 1870 Lt. George Montague Wheeler led the first of several surveys west of the 100th meridian to make topographic maps of the American southwest. His landform illustrator John E. Weyss produced several beautiful maps, among them an engraved-hachure view from Los Angeles to Lancaster.

140 years ago the PCH was a "Wagon Trail," a single railroad linked the San Fernando Valley, the San Gabriel Valley and the LA basin, Griffith Park was "grazing land," and rivers that flowed from the Verdugos and Santa Monica mountains were not yet bound in concrete.

Wheeler’s was one of four “Great Surveys” of the west, joining John Wesley Powell’s trip down the Colorado, Ferdinand V. Hayden’s survey of Nebraska, and Clarence King’s journey along the 40th parallel.

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