Historical Topographic Maps - 5 of 14

Historical Topographic Maps FAQs - 14 Found

What scales of maps are included in the USGS historical topographic maps collection?

Map sheets were initially published at three primary scales (1:62,500 scale; 1:125,000 scale; and 1:250,000 scale) with contour intervals of 10, 20, 50, 100, or 200 feet depending on the terrain. In terms of scale and latitude and longitude, these map specifications were expanded to include the scales and geographic extents in the following table:


Map scale (series)


  • 1:24,000 (7.5 x 7.5 minutes)

  • 1:25,000 (7.5 x 7.5 minutes)

  • 1:25,000 (7.5 x 15 minutes)

  • 1:31,680 (7.5 x 7.5 minutes)

  • 1:48,000 (15 x 15 minutes)

  • 1:62,500 (15 x 15 minutes)

  • 1:63,360 (15 x 15 minutes)

  • 1:63,360 (Alaska)

  • 1:100,000 (30 x 60 minutes)

  • 1:125,000 (30 x 30 minutes)

  • 1:250,000 (1 x 1 and 1 x 2 degrees)

Another way of looking at maps scales for specific areas is:


  • 7.5-minute maps of the conterminous United States, Hawaii, and limited areas of Alaska at 1:24,000 and 1:25,000 scale

  • 7.5 x 15-minute maps in limited areas of the conterminous United States at 1:25,000 scale

  • Pacific Island maps at 1:20,000, 1:24,000, and 1:25,000 scales

  • Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands at 1:20,000 scale

  • Culebra, its adjacent islands, and the Island of Vieques at 1:30,000 scale

  • Alaska at 1:63,360 scale

  • 30 x 60-minute maps of the conterminous United States at 1:100,000 scale

  • 1 x 2-degree maps of the United States at 1:250,000 scale

The first USGS topographic maps, usually at the scale of 1:125,000, were engraved in copper with the hydrography (water) printed in blue; hypsography (contours) in brown; the projection lines, lettering and other cultural features in black. The scale of 1:62,500 prevailed until the 1950's, when a requirement for more detailed maps resulted in a change to the standard scale of 1:24,000. Map seekers will find other USGS topo map editions available at 1:31,680 and 48,000-scale for various places.

Tags: Maps, Topographic, Recreation, Quadrangle, GeoPDF, Scale, Contours