Illustrated Map of the Route of Transcontinental Air Transport, Inc. [Cover title: Coast to Coast by Plane and Train]. Inc Transcontinental Air Transport.
Illustrated Map of the Route of Transcontinental Air Transport, Inc. [Cover title: Coast to Coast by Plane and Train].
Illustrated Map of the Route of Transcontinental Air Transport, Inc. [Cover title: Coast to Coast by Plane and Train].
Illustrated Map of the Route of Transcontinental Air Transport, Inc. [Cover title: Coast to Coast by Plane and Train].
Illustrated Map of the Route of Transcontinental Air Transport, Inc. [Cover title: Coast to Coast by Plane and Train].
Illustrated Map of the Route of Transcontinental Air Transport, Inc. [Cover title: Coast to Coast by Plane and Train].
Illustrated Map of the Route of Transcontinental Air Transport, Inc. [Cover title: Coast to Coast by Plane and Train].

Illustrated Map of the Route of Transcontinental Air Transport, Inc. [Cover title: Coast to Coast by Plane and Train].

New York: Rand McNally & Company, 1929. Color-printed map, 14” x 30.5”, folding into gilt and blind-stamped blue cloth covers, 195 x 106mm.

An interesting souvenir map depicting 1920s air travel in the United States via the Transcontinental Air Transport’s joint air-rail route, “presented to TAT passengers that they may become better acquainted with America.”

Stemming from New York City and Washington DC in the east, the route shown on this map consists of two railroads converging in Pennsylvania and terminating in Columbus, Ohio, where the airline begins. From Columbus, the route proceeds through Indianapolis, St. Louis, Kansas City, and Witchita to Waynoka, Oklahoma, connecting with the Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad to Clovis, New Mexico, where air travel resumes, proceeding to Albuquerque, Winslow, Kingman and Los Angeles, then north to San Francisco.

The map extends as far south as Atlanta and as far north as Minneapolis. Across the bottom, the elevations of various locales along the route are given. Thirty vignette illustrations in the border depict natural wonders, cities, and other landmarks along the route, including Wichita, St. Louis, San Francisco, Chimney Rock in Oklahoma and Crater Mound in Arizona.

A Certificate of Flight Appears on the verso, here filled-out by one Mr. Norman Swan on 8 August 1929, indicating that he traveled from Columbus, Ohio to St. Louis, Missouri and then to Los Angeles, California. The Log of the Flight is filled-in entirely, with manuscript notes for Columbus, St. Louis, Kansas City, Albuquerque, and so forth. Recorded are special orders; the names of pilots and assistant pilots who flew the plane; weather conditions; times of departure and arrival; number of passengers; delays; altitudes; mileage, etc. One note reads, “Left motor missing when in sight of Wichita. Motors very hot. Field Mgr. noticed it.” Above Kansas Swan observes: “Open rolling terrain oil wells loud cattle.”

Also on the verso is a weather map of the route, clearly intended to inspire passenger confidence, which, as it turns out, would have been misplaced. Beginning on 3 September 1929, TAT would endure three serious accidents over the next five months. The New York Times declared the September 3rd accident “the first great tragedy on a national air route since giant passenger planes became a mode of transcontinental travel.” The TAT had its own weather bureau and relied on other weather observers as well. This second map identifies various weather reporting stations with red dots. A key at the lower right identifies these as Pennsylvania Railroad observers, Santa Fe observers, T.A.T. observers, and U.S. Weather observers. The company's teletype and radio systems at each of these locales provided pilots with an exact picture of weather conditions along the line of flight, as explained in the accompanying text.

Transcontinental Air Transport (TAT) was founded in 1928 by Clement Melville Keys (1876–1952) and merged in 1930 with Western Air Express to form Transcontinental & Western Air (T&WA), which later became Trans World Airlines (TWA). In the '20s Keys hired Charles Lindbergh to design a transcontinental network to receive government airmail contracts. To this end, Lindbergh established a number of airports across the country. The TAT, whose slogan was "Harnessing the Plane and the Iron Horse," initially offered a 51-hour train-cum-plane trip with several change-overs beginning in New York City and terminating in various destinations such as Albuquerque, Winslow, Arizona, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. A one-way trip from New York to Los Angeles cost $338. The TAT was one of the first airline companies to offer passenger service.

Commercial aviation transformed American life, uniting disparate regions of the country. Three years after Charles Lindbergh’s 1927 solo flight from New York to Paris, United Air Lines provided the very first transcontinental route—from New York to San Francisco, with an overnight stay in Chicago. By the mid-30s, with the use of DC-3 airplanes, one could fly across America non-stop. The majority of the earliest commercial fliers were bankers and businessmen flying to Chicago from New York. Transcontinental flight routes soon brought geographically disparate resources and industries into connection with one another. As Susan Schulten has noted, during the early days of commercial aviation in-flight maps enabled passengers to track the journey, pass the time, and demystify “what for many was a new and perhaps unsettling experience.”

An appealing, early airline passenger map.

REFERENCES: Schulten, Susan. A History of America in 100 Maps (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2018), pp. 220-221.

CONDITION: Very good.

Item #5593

Price: $950.00

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