Ordnance Survey Map (1859/1860)

The Ordnance Survey map (topographic map at a scale of 1:25,000) of the 1859/1860 survey were created 25 years after Müffling's map of 1834. The differences between these two maps are significantly smaller than the differences between the Müffling map and the map of the Schroetter's survey. This applies both to the map contents and to the illustration. The map sheet of 1859/60 shows the continuity of the successive improvement of the Prussian survey.

The continued high quality of topographic reconnaissance in Prussia since the Napoleonic Wars makes it possible to recognise and interpret the changes in the maps. The evaluation of the maps shows that there has been only a slight change in the total area of the Curonian Spit. Thus, in the map of 1859/60, the Curonian Spit has a total area of 165.96 km², which is only slightly more than in 1834, when the total area was 163.02 km².

A closer look at the map also reveals persistence in the proportions of the landscape types in the total area. The largest share among the landscape types is determined by sand with 49.76 % (1834: 48.79 %). This is followed by herb/shrub cover (29.52 %; 1834: 26:35 %) and forest (9.21 %; 1834: 8.27 %). The proportion of this vegetated area on the Curonian Spit has thus increased slightly in these 25 years. The proportion of grassland (incl. sparse trees) decreased from 8.63% (1834) to 2.16% (1859/60).

Looking at the changes in the areas in the map image, it initially looks as if the cover of the spit has changed considerably. However, on closer examination of the spatial distribution of the areas, in many places it seems to be more a matter of cartographic changes where the division of the area has changed. Many areas that were previously mapped as grassland (including sparse tree cover) are now shown as herb/shrub cover. A significant change can also be seen in many dunes, where the lower sections are shown as vegetated.

The settlement area increased from 1.17% to 1.60% in the years from 1834 to 1859/60. At the same time, the spatial structure that the forest areas are primarily located in the vicinity of the spit settlements has been maintained. At Schwarzort (Juodkrantė) in the north and at Nidden (Nida) in the middle of the Curonian Spit, it can be seen very well how the forest areas enclose the village in a semicircle, which significantly reduces the blowing in of sand and was therefore advantageous for the inhabitants. The other types of land, such as wetlands/marsh/break (4.54%) and agricultural land (1.20%), show no significant change either spatially or in terms of proportion. The wetlands are found in the very south of the Spit between Sarkau (Lesnoi) and Cranz (Selenogradsk), as the topography of the Spit favours the formation of fractures in these areas. The few agricultural areas on the Curonian Spit are south of Rossitten, which is due to the favourable soil conditions of the Rossitten Moraine Island.

The sheet from 1859/1860 is also of particular interest, as it is the last map produced before extensive work began on the spit under the direction of Wilhelm Franz Epha (1828-1904) to reforest the dunes. The aim was to stabilise the sand, which always threatened to silting up the spit villages and had buried entire towns.


Square kilometres


Herb/shrub cover (incl. grey dune)






Water area (except lagoon and Baltic Sea)






Settlement area and immediate surroundings



Grassland (incl. sparse tree cover)



Agricultural land






No data / no allocation






Methodological note: The explanatory map description refers to the derived form of the map, which is shown interactively above and in the overview below. For this purpose, the land use type or ecotope was derived from the signatures of the source map and presented in a summarised map. In this form, the height information was completely omitted, which is why it is only taken into account here in the form of additional information. This information relates in particular to the distribution and form of the dunes that are so characteristic of the spit.