I’ve been doing a bit of tinkering with Inkscape again. Finally finished a variant of the Sanborn Fire Insurance plat map for the town of Delta, Colorado circa 1890. The pictured version has been converted from the vector format along with an added background image. The original SVG file can be downloaded as well.
Delta was originally a trading post for Ute Indians and the new settlers from the east. Delta is situated where the Uncompahgre and Gunnison Rivers come together on the Western Slope of Colorado. The town grew up near Fort Uncompahgre, which was founded in 1828 well before the city itself.
I discussed the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps in a prior post. Many cities and towns throughout the United States are available.
Map Usage: Map is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike CC BY-SA license.
Accurate maps of towns and cities and the old west are somewhat difficult to find. Many of the historical archives contain bird’s eye maps of significant sites. However, fewer sites contain actual maps of the towns. As I was searching around, I came across several plat maps from the Sanborn Company. Apparently, Sanborn was a mapping company that started shortly after the end of the Civil War. The primary product were fire risk maps.
Sanborn operated from 1867-2007 with maps from over 12,000 locations. My particular interest is the era from 1860 – 1890 but others may be interested in the maps from more modern eras. Many of the older maps have passed into the public domain and archived by several national and state organizations. Check the external links section on the Sanborn Maps Wikipedia article for a good list of organizations.
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The great-grandson of “Soapy” Smith, Jeff Smith stopped by to drop a comment on my entirely fictional adventure featuring his great grandfather. He also added links to his site and blog covering the history of his great grandfather. Had I found his site originally, I would have used it for the background research for the adventure. His coverage of the legendary man is significantly more detailed than the resources I used.
Jeff has also written a book about Jefferson Randolph Smith II — Alias Soapy Smith which is available from. I highly encourage anyone interested in the history of this unique man to visit Jeff’s site or buy the book. My adventure was little more than a minor reference. The book looks like a fascinating read.
I’m certain the Jeff’s coverage could provide dozens of plot ideas based off the actual life of his great grandfather.