Why are some of the historical topographic maps yellowed and why do some have extra stamps or marks?

The goals of the Historical Topographic Map Collection (HTMC) project are to find, catalog, and georeference all USGS topographic quadrangle maps published prior to 2007. The overall purpose is to preserve the map archive for scientists, historians, and the public. Library copies of maps (many of which have library stamps) were therefore scanned "as is". Map restoration is not part of the current HTMC project.

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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...

Why are USGS historical topographic maps referenced to outdated datums?

Many different horizontal reference datums exist, but in the United States only three datums are commonly used: The North American Datum of 1927 ( NAD27 ) uses a starting point at a base station in Meades Ranch, Kansas and the Clarke Ellipsoid to calculate the shape of the Earth. The North American Datum of 1983 ( NAD83 ) was developed when...

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...

How can topographic maps be useful in genealogical research?

Once you've gathered as many facts about family history and customs as possible, turn to maps to uncover more specific information or to solve historical mysteries. In the United States, birth, death, property, and some other kinds of records are normally kept by county governments. If you can name the place where an ancestor lived, new or old...

How do I get a full-scale plot of a 1:24,000-scale (7.5-minute) topographic map?

There are three ways to get full-scale plots of USGS topographic quadrangle maps, including both Historical Topographic maps (produced 1884-2006) and US Topo maps (produced 2009-present). Order a paper map from the USGS Store . Use the Store’s Map Locator to find the desired map. Download the GeoPDF map file and send it to a local printing...

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...
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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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December 18, 2017

Lesson 9a: Accessing US Topo and Historical USGS Topographic Maps

In this lesson, we will discuss the USGS Store and how it can be used to access the US Topo and historical USGS Topographic maps. Specifically, this lesson will talk about the USGS Store, both where it’s accessed and what’s available at the store, as well as how you can locate and download free topographic maps through the store. 
 

June 1, 2017

TopoView - A look at version 2.1

A tutorial by USGS scientist and topoView developer Chris Garrity demonstrating how to use topoView version 2.1. TopoView let's you access and download maps free of charge from the USGS's Historical Topographic Map Collection, published between 1884 and 2006. 

Resources:
An Introduction to TopoView (version 1.0)

historic topographic map of portland, or
March 9, 2017

1897 topographic map of Portland, OR

Historical topographic map of Portland, OR, from 1897.

1914 USGS legacy topographic map of the Muscle Shoals, Alabama
April 25, 2016

1914 USGS legacy topographic map of the Muscle Shoals, Alabama

 

1914 USGS legacy topographic map of the Muscle Shoals, Alabama area.

Image: Cartographers in the Field
January 1, 2007

Cartographers in the Field

This Depression-era oil painting was created by USGS field man Hal Shelton in 1940. The painting depicts mapping techniques used in the early days of cartography, including an alidade and stadia rod for determining distances and elevations and a plane-table for sketching contour lines. A USGS benchmark is visible near the top. The straight white lines represent survey

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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 Topographic Rod man
September 1, 1921

USGS Topographic Rod man

Rod man Koontz holding a stadia rod.

Scan of the 1890 legacy topographic map quadrangle of the greater Madison area

Scan of the 1890 legacy topographic map quadrangle of the greater Madison area from the USGS 

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Historical Topographic Map Collection: Denver, CO 1890

Historical Topographic Map Collection: Denver, CO 1890

Historical Topographic Map Collection: Denver, CO 1890

Browse Image of 1890 Historical Topographic Map

Browse Image of 1890 Historical Topographic Map

Browse Image of 1890 historical topographic map for the Newburyport quadrangle, a digital map in the USGS Historical Topographic Map Collection