When was the 1:24,000-scale topographic map series for the conterminous 48 States, Hawaii, Alaska and Territories completed?

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) was created in 1879 and published it’s first topographic map in 1882. Systematic topographic mapping was authorized by Congress in 1884. 

Although 1:24,000-scale topographic maps were produced by the USGS as early as 1904, a formal program to provide primary topographic map coverage at that scale for the entire conterminous United States did not begin until 1947.

More than 55,000 maps later, the USGS completed 1:24,000-scale coverage of the conterminous U.S. in 1992 (revisions were made until 2006). Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Trust Territories were completed earlier and were mapped at other scales. All of these maps are included in the Historical Topographic Map Collection

Download free digital versions of historical USGS topographic maps (as well as more current US Topo maps) or order paper maps from the online USGS Store

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How do I find, download, or order topographic maps?

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has been the primary civilian mapping agency of the United States since 1879. The best known USGS maps are the 1:24,000-scale topographic maps, also known as 7.5-minute quadrangles. Download all dates and scales of USGS topographic maps free of charge from the following applications or order paper copies of all...

Where can I find indexes of USGS topographic maps?

View map indices on these interactive maps (you must zoom in to see the index lines and map names) : Map Locator on the USGS Store - Click the icon on the left that looks like two pieces of paper and select “1:24,000”. TopoView - Click on any of the round map scale indicators on the right side of the map. The National Map Viewer - Click on the...

What is a topographic map?

The distinctive characteristic of a topographic map is the use of elevation contour lines to show the shape of the Earth's surface. Elevation contours are imaginary lines connecting points having the same elevation on the surface of the land above or below a reference surface, which is usually mean sea level. Contours make it possible to show the...

There are multiple copies of the same map in your Historical Topographic Map Collection that all have the same date. Is there a difference between those maps?

Yes, these are different maps that typically resulted from revisions and reprints. The differences are often minor. The date used to identify a map can be found in the lower right corner. If there are multiple editions with the same compilation date, look for additional dates in the lower right portion of the map collar that might differentiate...

How current are US Topo maps?

US Topo maps are updated on a three-year production cycle (maps covering one third of the country are updated each year). The US Topo production schedule follows the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Imagery Program (NAIP) collection schedule. This does not include US Topos for Alaska, which are on a different schedule . The...

What is a GeoPDF®?

A GeoPDF is a georeferenced PDF file, meaning that it is a Portable Document Format (PDF) file with added information that relates the image to coordinates on a map. GeoPDF files can be used as plain PDF files but have the added capability of some limited mapping functions (turn any map layers on and off, obtain XY coordinates for a location,...

I found an error on a map. How can I report it and when will you fix it?

There are different answers to this question for different products. In all cases, we must know what product you are addressing. Please read the following guidelines and email error reports to tnm_help@usgs.gov : US Topo maps (topographic maps published 2009-present) Please include the following information: The map title, state, and date (from...

Can I still get the older topographic maps?

Yes. Topographic maps originally published as paper documents between 1884-2006 have been scanned and published as the USGS Historical Topographic Map Collection . Download our historical topographic maps and our more current US Topo maps (published 2009-present) free of charge using TopoView (GeoPDF, GeoTIFF, JPEG, and KMZ formats) or using the...

How do US Topo maps differ from historical USGS topographic maps?

Historically, USGS topographic maps were made using data from primary sources including direct field observations. Those maps were compiled, drawn, and edited by hand. By today's standards, those traditional methods are very expensive and time-consuming, and the USGS no longer has funding to make maps that way. A new USGS topographic map series...
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Date published: July 19, 2017

Historical Maps at Your Fingertips

Earlier this month, the USGS launched “TopoView 2.1”, an enhancement to the current popular TopoView mapping service that lets users discover, interact, and download historical USGS topographic maps scans.

Date published: July 5, 2017

Finding Yourself Outdoors

Updated USGS digital topographic maps feature more trails and other recreation points of interest

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Tennessee River on 2016 US Topo
December 31, 2016

Tennessee River on 2016 US Topo

Tennessee River on 2016 US Topo

Screen shot of US Topo Story Map
August 18, 2016

US Topo Story Map – Topographic Maps for the Nation

US Topo Story Map – Topographic Maps for the Nation

Alaska Surveying
April 25, 2016

Alaska Surveyors Circa 1924

Alaska surveying crew circa 1924 using alidade and plane table; transportation by dogsled. USGS photo files.

video thumbnail: US Topo
February 29, 2012

US Topo

US Topo is the next generation of topographic maps from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Arranged in the familiar 7.5-minute quadrangle format, digital US Topo maps are designed to look and feel (and perform) like the traditional paper topographic maps for which the USGS is so well known. In contrast to paper-based maps, US Topo maps provide modern technical advantages

Image: USGS Topographers at Work
March 14, 1984

USGS Topographers at Work

USGS topographer with plane table and alidade in the Alabama Hills near Mt. Whitney, California.

Image: USGS Topographer at Work
December 1, 1969

USGS Topographer at Work

USGS topographer Russ Curtis using a Wild N3 level.

Image: USGS Topographic Field Party
January 1, 1941

USGS Topographic Field Party

A mounted topographic field party poses while working on the Dos Cabezas quadrangle in Arizona. 1940-1941. The quadrangle was surveyed by D.H. Rutledge, W.E. Burton, and G.K. Jensen, so it is likely that most or all of them are in this photo.

Image: USGS Topographers at Work
July 29, 1931

USGS Topographers at Work

A topographic field party crossing a snowdrift at the head of Grand Creek above their camp near Moose Lake while mapping the Mt. Constance quadrangle in the Olympic Mountains of Washington.

Image: USGS Topographer at Work
January 1, 1931

USGS Topographer at Work

Topographer George Stanley Druhot with a plane table and alidade while mapping the Mt. Constance quadrangle on the Olympic Peninsula.

Image: USGS Topographer at Work
January 1, 1928

USGS Topographer at Work

Topographer George Stanley Druhot working with a tripod, planetable, and alidade at Kahekili Leap, on the island of Oahu. His two companions are Malcolm Springer and Tai Hai Lau

Image: USGS Topographer at Work
July 1, 1925

USGS Topographer at Work

Topographer George Stanley Druhot running a level line on oil-shale cliffs north of the Colorado River. The level line was one mile long and climbed 2,000 feet over talus slopes.

Image: USGS Topographers

USGS Topographers

USGS topographic field party, circa 1925, with a Wye level on a tripod and two stadia rods.