Special Collections

Posts by Dawn Collings

50 Features of Special Collections: The Many Faces of Davis Maps

February 22nd, 2017 by Dawn Collings


The Map Collection include maps of the local area and California communities.  Various types of maps show different aspects and concerns which are important to the development and growth of a city or region.  The Map Collection includes street maps, zoning maps, school districts, voting precincts, census tracts, bus routes, bicycle paths, and flood zones.  Maps printed over a period of time show historical changes in city boundaries, street names, neighborhood development, park and recreation facilities, schools and city buildings, and sometimes names of buildings such as hospitals.

In the spirit of celebrations, Special Collections is also honoring the Centennial of the City of Davis.   Let’s celebrate with the panel covers of some Davis maps available in the Map Collection.

Davis + UC Davis guide + map  MAP G4364.D3 2011 .Y6



Street map of Davis                  MAP G4364.D3 2004 .T2



Davis bike map                                 MAP G4364.D3E63 2016 .U6


Welcome to Davis, California  MAP G4364.D3P2 2013 .D3


Davis Art Walk        No Call Number                     (Ask staff for help)


Davis, California : home of UC Davis MAP G4364.D3P2 2015 .D3


Map of Davis
MAP G4364.D3 1988 .C6

Map of Davis
MAP G4364.D3 1990 .C6

Map of Davis, Yolo County, California
MAP G4364.D3 1980 .C6

The Map Collection room is located on the Lower Level of Shields Library.  Doors open to the public Monday-Friday, 1:00-5:00 p.m.

Contact the Special Collections Department for map related questions by email at speccoll@ucdavis.edu or by phone at 530-752-1621.

Post created by Dawn Collings and Kristoffer Landes

50 Features of Special Collections: Early Oil Fields of Kern County, California

January 25th, 2017 by Dawn Collings



Beginning in 1864, tar was mined in open pits for asphalt and kerosene in the Kern County region.  After the discovery of the Shamrock Gusher at the McKittrick Oil Field in 1896, oil wells began to replace tar mining as the predominant form of energy harvesting in California.



The Midway Gusher at the Midway Oil Field blew in 1909 and was followed shortly thereafter by the Lakeview Gusher on March 14th, 1910. To date, the Lakeview Gusher remains the largest gusher to have erupted in the United States and is immortalized as California Historical Landmark 485.



All of the oil fields showcased in the maps above are still in active use, although the Midway Oil Field shown here in this 1905 map is now part of the larger Midway-Sunset Oil Field. The 2015 Report of California Oil and Gas Production Statistics published by the California Department of Conservation gives detailed statistics regarding how many barrels of oil were produced by each field in 2015:

  • Kern River: 25,693,327 barrels
  • McKittrick: 3,334,448 barrels
  • Midway-Sunset: 28,184,793 barrels

Further examination of the report reveals that the Kern River and Midway-Sunset oil fields were the top two California oil fields in 2015, followed in third place by the South Belridge Oil Field, which produced 22,901,979 barrels. Together, the Kern River and Midway-Sunset oil fields accounted for approximately 26.7% of the state’s 201,711,080 barrel total, lending credence to the claim that these historic fields are still a critical part of California’s natural resource industry today.

For more information on the history of oil in Kern County please visit these websites:






California Department of Conservation, 2015 Report of California Oil and Gas Production Statistics, April, 2015,  ftp://ftp.consrv.ca.gov/pub/oil/annual_reports/2015/PR03_2015.pdf. Accessed 25 Jan. 2017

California. Office of Historic Preservation. California Historical Landmarks. 11th Ed.]. ed. Sacramento: Office of Historic Preservation, Dept. of Parks and Recreation, 1990. Print.

Prutzman, Paul W. [Kern County Oil Fields]. Sacramento, CA?: State Mining Bureau, 1905. Print.  (MAP G4361.H8 1905 .C21)

Post created by Dawn Collings & Kristoffer Landes

50 Features of Special Collections: The American River and a Lake with Many Names

October 28th, 2016 by Dawn Collings


The American River does not flow directly from Lake Tahoe to the Sacramento River, but this map shows the south fork of the “Rio de los Americanos” with a direct path from what was then known as “Mountain Lake” into the “Rio Sacramento” past the town of “Nueva Helvetia”.  The Spanish names reflect that California was controlled by Mexico at the time this map was created in the early 1840s.  John Charles Fremont’s expedition across the western portion of North America included the region of the American River which would later become the center of the Gold Rush.





1845 Map of the American River Showing “Mountain Lake”

The naming of Lake Tahoe took many twists and turns that are reflected on early maps of California and the western states. In Fremont’s early surveys, the lake was simply named Mountain Lake.  Later, Charles Preuss, a cartographer working with Fremont, drew the lake as Lake Bonpland in homage to Aimé Bonpland, a French botanist and explorer of South America.


1848 Map of the Western States Showing “L. Bonpland” [Lake Bonpland]

In 1870, the lake was officially named “Lake Bigler” in honor of John Bigler, governor of California from 1852 to 1856.  However, Bigler was a strong secessionist during the Civil War, and having his name on the lake was unpopular.  The official name remained on maps published by the State of California until the California Legislature formally changed it to Lake Tahoe in 1945.

1853 Map of The United States Showing "Bigler L. [Lake]"

1853 Map of The United States Showing “Bigler L.” [Bigler Lake]

Here we have an 1849 map that is unique in referring to the lake as “Fremonts L.” [Fremont’s Lake].

1849 Map of the Gold Regions of California showing "Fremonts L." [Fremont's Lake]

1849 Map of the Gold Regions of California showing “Fremonts L.” [Fremont’s Lake]

This 1884 map of Central California is particularly interesting in that shows Lake Bigler and Lake Tahoe as being interchangeable names referring to the same body of water.

1884 Map Showing "Lake Bigler or Lake Tahoe"

1884 Map Showing “Lake Bigler or Lake Tahoe”

And finally we see the name Lake Tahoe returning to its Washo Native American beginnings meaning “big water” in this 1900 map issued by the California-Paris Exposition Commission of 1900.

1900 Map of California issued by the California-Paris Exposition Commission of 1900

Map of California issued by the California-Paris Exposition Commission of 1900


Information for this blog post comes from the gazetteer California Place Names; the Origin and Etymology of Current Geographical Names. A gazetteer is a geographical dictionary, and a collection of gazetteers in the Map Collection room help begin research for place names.


You can view these maps in the Map Collection room on the Lower Level of Shields Library, 1:00-5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.



Gudde, Erwin Gustav. California Place Names; the Origin and Etymology of Current Geographical Names. Rev. and Enl. 3d Ed., with Maps and Reference List of Obsolete Names.  Berkeley: University of California Press, 1969. Print.

Map showing “Mountain Lake”:

Frémont, John Charles, Edward Weber & Co, and United States. Congress. Senate. [Course of the American River from Lake Tahoe to Nueva Helvetia]. Washington, D.C.: Gales and Seaton, 1845. Print.

Shields Library Map Collection Old Maps- (MAP G4301.H2 1845 .F7 Drawer 1 )

Map showing “L. Bonpland” [Lake Bonpland]:

Frémont, John Charles, Charles Preuss, and Edward Weber & Co. Map of Oregon and Upper California, from the Surveys of John Charles Frémont and Other Authorities. Washington, D.C.: Senate, 1848. Print.

Shields Library Map Collection Old Maps (MAP G4210 1848 .P7 )

Map showing “Fremonts L.” [Fremonts Lake]:

Wyld, James. Map of the Gold Regions of California. London:  s.n., 1849. Print.

Shields Library Map Collection (MAP G4300 1849 .W9 ) – reproduction.

Map showing “Lake Bigler”:

Goddard, George H., and Britton & Rey. Britton & Rey’s Map of the State of California. Berkeley, Calif.: Friends of the Bancroft Library, 1969. Print.

Shields Library Map Collection (MAP G4360 1857 .G6 ) – reproduction.

Map showing “Lake Bigler or Lake Tahoe”

Rand McNally Company. [Rand McNally Map of California]. Chicago, IL, 1884. Print.

Map of California issued by the California-Paris Exposition Commission of 1900

H.S. Crocker & Co, and California-Paris Exposition Commission of 1900. Map of California / Copyrighted by H.S. Crocker Co. San Francisco: California-Paris Exposition Commission of 1900, 1900. Print.

Post created by Dawn Collings & Kristoffer Landes

50 Features of Special Collections: A Rescued Map – California 1852

August 30th, 2016 by Dawn Collings



This colorful map depicts counties in the state of California as of 1852 and is unique in that its path to preservation involved piecing it together from scraps after it fell out of a woman’s handbag.

The California Legislature enhanced the map showing county boundaries, a list of post offices, and postal routes.

One of the most eye-catching impressions of this map is the configuration of county boundaries in 1852. Throughout the history of California, the counties have changed, developed, been renamed, and divided into multiple counties into today’s current configuration.1852 california map


Current California County Boundaries

The story in the lower left corner of the map tells how H. S. Foote rescued this map in 1908 and gave it to the Santa Clara County Free Library for preservation.

Explanatory Paragraph

Explanatory Paragraph

The quotation in the lower margin (which is partially obscured by Foote’s notes) reads, “Entered according to act of Congress in the year 1851 by B.F. Butler in the clerk’s office of the district court of the United States for the northern district of California.”                     Click here to view larger image


You can view this map–and other early California maps–in the Map Collection room on the Lower Level of Shields Library, 1:00-5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Map Call Number: MAP G4360 1852 .M2

Post created by Dawn Collings, Kristoffer Landes, and Louis Cashatt.


50 Features of Special Collections: Map of Sacramento Valley, 1849

August 4th, 2016 by Dawn Collings


Early maps showing the Sacramento Valley and gold fields include this charming map. The Sacramento Valley from the American River to Butte Creek, 1849. A staff favorite because it shows a route from Sacramento to Benecia which crosses Putah Creek approximately where the City of Davis sits today.

Some landowners and ranchos are named on the map. “Wolfs Kills” (Wolfskill) is located along “Puta Creek” (Putah Creek) near a trail pointing toward “Vaca’s and Berry’s Ranchos” (Vacaville and Berryessa).

Throughout the valley, it notes areas of natural vegetation and lands for farming and ranching with statements such as “Sycamore & Oak,” “Rich Arable Soil,” and “Good Grazing on these Plains.” Elk, antelope, and large herds of wild cattle and horses are noted in the region north of “The Buttes” (now known as the Sutter Buttes near Marysville).

Roads on the map include “Waggon Route to the Yuba Mines” and “Benecia Road impassable during Rainy Season.” Roads headed east from Sacramento into the Sierra Nevada foothills direct you to the gold region near “Colluma” (Coloma, the location of Sutter’s mill), Dry Diggings, “Karnaka Diggings” (Kanaka Diggings), and “Mormon Isla” (Mormon Island–which was a sandbar not an island) along the South Fork of American River.

The map was published as part of U.S. congressional Serial Set vol. 558, S. Ex. Doc. 47-2, 1st Session, 31st Congress.

You can view this map in the Map Collection room on the Lower Level of Shields Library, 1:00-5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Map Call Number: MAP G4362.S33 1849 .D3

Sacramento Valley 1849Click here to enlarge.

Post created by Dawn Collings and Kristoffer Landes.

Gerome Celebrates California Admissions Day, 165th Anniversary

September 9th, 2015 by Dawn Collings

California was admitted as the 31st state on Sept 9, 1850, and it was the first territory to become a state from land acquired from Mexico under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hildalgo which ended the Mexican-American War.

Gerome found the oldest original map of the State of California in the Map Collection room: A new map of the Gold Region in California by Charles Drayton Gibbes, 1851. (Call Number: MAP G4360 1851 .G4 Old Maps)

Of particular interest, this map focuses on Northern California and shows Lake Tahoe–named “Mountain Lake”–located entirely in Nevada. County lines are very different than current counties. “Lake D. L. Tulares”–a large lake in southern Central Valley –no longer exists.

The Map Collection holds other original California maps in the Old Maps cabinet (1920 and older) along with newer maps in the rest of the collection showing progression of change in California over the past 165 years. The Map Collection room is located on the lower level of Shields Library and is open Monday-Friday, 1:00-5:00 p.m.

Gerome the Gnome on the Roam to Celebrate Earth Day

April 22nd, 2015 by Dawn Collings

Gerome travels to the Map Collection room to take a look at the climate globe of Earth.

The globe, Klima-Globus by von Georg Jench in 1970 (Shields Library, Map Collection, Call Number: MAP G3171.C81 1970 .J4), has an accompanying booklet to explain the symbols and markings.  English translation included. The globe shows different climate zones of the world and the intertropical convergence (ITC) lines which circle the globe.  It also includes low-pressure areas, high-pressure areas, and winds for January and July.

For more information about Earth Day 2015, visit the official website.