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May 7, 2019
SOS Press Office
(916) 653-6575

State Archives’ ‘First Complete Rail Map of the Sierra’ Available Digitally, On Public Display for the First Time

SACRAMENTO, CA – The California State Archives, in partnership with Stanford University, the California Railroad Museum, and Google Arts and Culture, has made the Theodore Judah Map (considered the first complete rail map of the Sierra) available digitally and is now also on public display for the first time.

“The Theodore Judah Map helps tell the story of one of the 19th Century’s greatest engineering feats — the Transcontinental Railroad,” said Secretary of State Alex Padilla. “I am proud of the State Archives’ work to preserve and share this piece of our history. This innovative partnership with Stanford University, the California Railroad Museum, and Google Arts and Culture has allowed us to bring another treasure of California history out of the vaults for all the world to enjoy.”

At 66 feet long and 30 inches wide, this is one of the largest maps in the California State Archives’ collection. Due to its size, the map had to be transported to Stanford University to be specially digitized. An annotated digitization of the map is available in four parts on the Google Arts and Culture platform.

Click here to view the digitized Theodore Judah Map on Google Arts and Culture

And for the first time ever, the complete physical map is on public display at the California Railroad Museum. The museum display will run through the end of May and coincides with the 150th anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad.

“The completion of the Transcontinental Railroad is not simply a railroad story, it is our story,” said Ty Smith, Museum Director of the California State Railroad Museum. “Judah's map served as the blueprint for connecting the nation and the world, physically and philosophically, in a way it had not been connected before. The completion of the transcontinental railroad changed everything and continues to impact our lives. At the California State Railroad Museum, we are honored to do our part to interpret the complex history and share the stories of the people who lived, worked, and died in this tremendous endeavor.”

Theodore Judah was the first engineer to systematically explore the western Sierra Nevada Mountains and map the route of the Central Pacific Railroad. This map, originally drawn in 1861, is broken into four parts, depicting:

  • Barmore Station to Clipper Gap;
  • Rattlesnake Bluffs to the summit of the Sierra Nevada;
  • From the summit to Truckee River; and
  • Dutch Flat to Rattlesnake Bluffs.


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