Old Historical City, County and State

Maps of Washington

Discover the past of through Washington State maps in our online collection of old historical maps that span over 100 years of growth. View Maps of Washington such as historical county boundaries changes, as well as old vintage maps.

Maps of Washington

MapGeeks Home Page ▶ Maps of Washington

Any old historical map of Washington can be very useful in conducting research, especially in light of the now extinct communities. Several kinds of maps are available which can help in locating land, ghost towns, or farms. Most historical maps of Washington were published in atlases.

Map of Washington State with the Counties and the County Seats

Map of Washington State with the Counties and the County Seats

Old Washington Maps can indicate who owned specific property in the state and which towns held the county seat at the time.  This information is a valuable starting point for your research pointing you to the right location of records. Several types of maps are useful for genealogists.

Tracing the history of early families in Washington is much easier if the researcher has an understanding of the types Washington maps and gazetteers.

In 1775, Bruno de Heceta, a Spanish explorer, visited what is now the state of Washington. He was followed by an American explorer named Captain Robert Gray, who came to the area in 1792. Also in that year, a British explorer named Captain George Vancouver began exploring the area and continued to do so until 1794.

Later on, in 1805 and 1806, the famous explorers, Lewis and Clark, came to the Columbia River area to explore. War almost broke out over American and British claims to the area in the 1840s. The war was only prevented by the signing of the Oregon Treaty in 1846, which stated that the 49th parallel was an official boundary point.

The Territory of Washington was an organized on March 2, 1853, when it split from Oregon Territory. On March 4, 1863, the Idaho Territory was split off.

The State of Washington was admitted the union as the 42nd state on November 11, 1889. Washington currently has 39 Counties.

States bordering Washington are Idaho, Oregon and Canada. The 10 largest cities in Washington are Seattle, Spokane, Tacoma, Vancouver, Bellevue, Everett, Kent, Yakima, Renton and Spokane Valley.

Old Historical Atlas Maps of Washington

Given that political boundaries sometimes changed, any historical Map of Washington can indicate who owned specific property in the state and which towns held the county seat at the time.  This information is a valuable starting point for your research pointing you to the right location of records.

This Historical Washington Map Collection is from original copies, so you can see Washington as our ancestors saw them over a 300 years ago.

Some Washington map years (not all) have cities, railroads, P.O. locations, township outlines and other features useful to any researcher.

Washington Map Collection

  • 1856 Map of Washington and Oregon – Shows both Washington and Oregon extend from the Pacific Ocean to the Rocky Mountains, Published By J.H. Colton, 1853 from Colton’s Atlas Of The World.
    Sites/facts specific to this historic state map are the counties of Whatcom, Clallam, Sawamish, Jefferson, King Pierce, Thurston, Chehalis, Lewis, Pacific, Cowlitz, Clarke, Clatsop, Clackamas, Yam Hill, Polk, Marion, Wascopen, Linn, Benton and many others. Also shown are the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Puget Sound, Gulf of Georgia, Point Brown, Point Harrison, Point Adams, Point Greenville, Bonilla Point, Point St. George, Trinidad Bay, Pelican Bay, Cape Orford, Cape Araga, Cape Foulweather, Cape Lookout, Cape Disappointment, Cape Flattery, and a multitude of rivers, creeks, lakes, mountains and other landmarks.
    The towns featured in this map are Seattle, Steilacoom, Olympia, S. Ford, Grand Mound, Cowlitz, Highland, Portland, Oregon City, Salem, Albany, Syracuse, Santiam City, Benton, La Creole, Hillsboro, Winchester, Scottsburg, Gardiner, Umpqua City and many others.
  • 1866 Map of Washington Territory Public Survey Sketches by the Department of Interior Land Office – showing Indian Reservations, Military Reservations, topographical details, Land Grant regions and a host of other details. Published By U.S. General Land Office, 1865 from Maps accompanying Report of the commissioner of the General Land Office.
    Sites/facts specific to this historic state map are an Explanations section that includes Seat of Land Office, Surveyor Generals Office, Puget Sound Ag Cos Claims, North Pacific Rail Road Route, Surveys (Executed, Proposed, Under Contract), US Reservations, Roads & Trails, Projected Rail Road, Completed Rails, Coal Lands, Gold Mines, Lead & Silver, Coal Oil, and Gold.
    Bodies of water are the Straits of Juan de Fuca, Hoods Canal, Columbia River, Puget Sound, Admiralty Inlet, Skagit River, Lake Chelan, Palouse River, Spokane River, Snake River, and others.
    A few of the geological features noted are Mt Rainier, Mt St Helens, Mt Adams, Great Plateau of Spokane, Blue Mountains, Cascade Mountains, Olympic Mountains, and others.
    The towns featured in this map are Astoria, Seattle, and more.
  • 1880 State and County Map of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and part of Montana. – Shows settlements, railroad, rivers, etc. Each state subdivided into individual counties, from Mitchell’s New General Atlas.
    Key geographic features include Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Stuart, Three Buttes, Three Tetons, Rocky Mountains, Cascade Range, Big Hole Mts., Columbia River, Snake River, Missouri River, Milk River, Klamath Lake, Bear Lake, Goose Lake, Lake Pakokee, Sage Desert, the Pacific Ocean and many more. Forts, Railroads along with trails, like the emigrant road and U. S. Post trail, are shown throughout the map. A scale of miles sits in the top of the map, while longitudinal and latitudinal lines encompass the map.
    The towns featured in this map are Portland, Vancouver, Salem, Seattle, Olympia, Boise City, Virginia City, Hot Spring, and Idaho City.

External Washington Map Links

  • U.S., Indexed County Land Ownership Maps, 1860-1918 database Washington county land ownership atlases from the Library of Congress’ Geography and Maps division, covering the years 1885-1918. These maps cover the following Washington counties: Adams County (1912), Asotin County (1914), Columbia County (1913), Douglas County (1915), Garfield County (1913), Grant County (1917), King County (1912), Kitsap County (1909), Klickitat County (1913), Lincoln County (1911), Pierce County (1889), Spokane County (1905), Spokane County (1912), Walla Walla County (1909), Whitman County (1895) and Whitman County (1910).
  • Historic Land Ownership and Reference Atlases, 1507-2000 database is a collection of maps and atlases detailing land areas that comprise the present-day United States and Canada, as well as various other parts of the world. It contains a variety of atlases and maps of Washington, including land ownership atlases and bird’s-eye view maps.
  • U.S. Map Collection, 1513-1990 database is a collection of maps detailing land areas that comprise the present United States. It contains a variety of Wasington maps, and covers the years 1798, 1850, 1878, 1880, 1884, 1889, 1890, 1891, 1903, 1905, 1910, 1915, 1989.
  • U.S., Indexed Early Land Ownership and Township Plats, 1785-1898 collection includes maps of townships in all or parts of Washington.

Map of Washington County Formations 1843-1915

Map of Washington County Boundaries and County Seats

Map of Washington County Boundaries and County Seats

If you have started your family tree, you might have experienced trouble with trying to identify Washington county borders and names that have changed over the course of time. This can make it difficult to understand where your ancestors’ information is kept.

This Interactive Map of Washington Counties show the historical boundaries, names, organization, and attachments of every county, extinct county and unsuccessful county proposal from 1843 to 1915. Washington contains 36 counties.

In 1845 the first Washington counties were formed was Lewis County and the last county to be formed was Grays Harbor County in 1915.

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Washington County Map Formation by Year

Washington County Map Abbreviations

  1. unorg. = unorganized
  2. g. = gained
  3. w. = with
  4. fr. = from
  5. atmt. = attachment
  6. exch = exchanged
  7. nca.= non county area
  8. ch. = changed
  9. Ad - Adams Co.
  10. As - Asotin Co.
  11. Be - Benton Co.
  12. Chn - Chelan Co.
  13. Clk - Clark Co.
  14. Clm - Clallam Co.
  15. Col - Columbia Co.
  16. Cow - Cowlitz Co.
  17. Do - Douglas Co.

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