Sibley Expedition

The Survey and Maps of the Sibley Expedition, 1825, 1826, and 1827

By L. Stephen Schmidt and Richard E. Hayden

This study was funded by the Santa Fe Trail Association.

All Rights reserved by the Santa Fe Trail Association. August 2011 (Rev. 1)

Table of Contents



  • Introduction
  • Overview of the Expedition
  • Some Comments and Observations
    • The Field Book
    • What was Surveyed
    • Field Book Map
  • Joesph C. Brown, Surveyor
  • How They Did It
  • Where Did They Start
  • How Accurate Where They
  • Small Scale Map
  • Present Study
    • Preliminary Work
    • Initial Methodology
    • Adopted methodology
  • Discussion of Plots of the Survey
  • Conclusion

Notes and References




These are large files which may take a few minutes to download - please be patient.

Supplemental Information


  • The sectional map prepared by Joseph C. Brown and sent to Taos to Commissioner Benjamin Reeves in November 1825
  • Brown's map of the survey at a scale of 1" =12 miles
  • Brown's map of survey at a scale of 1" =4 miles


About the Authors

  • Steve Schmidt holds a BS and MS in Civil Engineering from Oklahoma State University.  He is a Registered Professional Engineer in Colorado and Kansas.  He received an Award of Merit from SFTA for his booklet “Lost Spring, Marion County, Kansas, A Historical Perspective” (available from The Last Chance Store).  Steve and wife Glenda received the Heritage Preservation Award from SFTA and received Site Certification from the National Park Service for preserving remnants of the Santa Fe Trail on their land in Marion County, Kansas.  Steve has also received the Paul F. Bentrup Ambassador Award from SFTA.  Steve is an amateur historian interested in trails, the fur trade era, railroads, and settlement of the American West.  He has served on the SFTA Board of Directors and Treasurer of the Cottonwood Crossing Chapter.  Steve considers it fortunate indeed that Rich Hayden had little prior knowledge about the Santa Fe Trail, thus eliminating any preconceptions about the route of the Sibley Survey that might influence his orientation of the maps.  His unbiased interpretation of the Sibley Maps, enthusiasm for the project, and skills in computers and mapping are very much admired and appreciated.
  • Richard Hayden is an Engineering Technician.  He learned mapping working for a firm in Denver, Colorado digitizing aerial photography for 911 emergency systems.  He currently works for the City of McPherson, Kansas where one of his many responsibilities includes updating the City maps and GIS system.  During his employment with the City of McPherson he has scanned and geo-rectified historical aerial photography for the City and surrounding areas in McPherson county.  This training and experience were applied to the Sibley maps and to the Santa Fe Trail.  Richard is grateful to Steve Schmidt for his insight and leadership, without which completing this project would have been nearly impossible.

Their research was made possible by a Scholarly Research Grant from the Santa Fe Trail Association, without which this study would not have been possible.