The railway to Baghdad that never was

[Haifa-Baghdad railway]. Collection of twelve maps of the Middle East relating to the proposed construction of a railway between Haifa and Baghdad.

Various places, ca. 1930.

12 maps, various sizes and scales.


Rare collection of maps relating to the proposed construction of a railway between Haifa and Baghdad. In the 1920s the British contemplated building such a railway that would have connected the Mediterranean with the capital of Iraq, ostensibly to shore up their imperial rule, support the British-backed Arab government of Iraq, and secure the oil pipeline already running from the Mosul oilfields to Haifa. They were also aware that developments of aerial warfare made the Suez Canal susceptible to aerial attacks in wartime, and alternative military routes across the Middle East to India were sought. However, a series of economic difficulties trumped political and military expediency, and with the outbreak of the Second World War, the dream of a trans-Middle Eastern rail service evaporated.

The present collection includes: 1) Baghdad (Valleys of the Euphrates and Tigris from Kirkuk (N-S) and Ramadi to Kermanshah (E-W), Baghdad at the centre. Scale 1:1,000,000. 2) Untitled French map, showing Baghdad to Deir-ez-Zor (E-W) and Mosul to Baghdad (N-S). Bureau Topographique des Troupes françaises du Levant, May 1933. Colour-printed. 850 x 630 mm. 3) Untitled map showing the area between Abu Kemal on the Euphrates and Tikrit on the Tigris. 4) Jaffa-Nablous. Jaffa-Amman (E-W). Reproduction of a "carte de reconnaissance" by E. L. Ottoman. Scale 1:200,000. Paris, Service Geographique de l'Armee, 1930. Colour-printed. 690 x 540 mm. 5) Four air photo maps showing Holt's Zerka Valley Alignment (thus titled by hand, referring to Major A. L. Holt, R.E.). Haifa-Baghdad rly. survey. Trans-Jordan. Surveyed at War Office from photographs by the R.A.F. ground control under the direction of Major R. L. Brown, R. E. Showing a section of the Jordan river and the country east to Jerash. Colour-printed, with the proposed rail route marked in crayon with annotations. Scale 1:24,000. Each map 940 x 730 mm. 6) Four manuscript maps maps, coloured: a) Haifa-Baghdad Railway. Geological Map of Zerka Route, by G. S. Blake, B.Sc., F.G.S. 1934. 1350 x 530 mm. b) Haifa-Baghdad Railway, Geological Plan and Section, by G. S. Blake. 1380 x 880 mm. c) Map of Zerka Route. Haifa-Baghdad Railway. 1500 x 750 mm. d) Geological Section from Damascus to Rutba to show westerly inclination of strata. 1200 x 340 mm. Geological section along proposed route of Haifa Baghdad railway from the Jordan to the Euphrates.

Some edge tears with occasional loss to paper but not to the map. A rare survival.