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How can I find and get historic USGS topographic maps?

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Welcome to CoreFacts, where we're always short on time and big on science. I'm Steve Sobieszczyk. Let's get right to it, today's question is:

How can I find and get historic USGS topographic maps?

If there is a specific topographic map that you are looking for, the easiest way to determine what to ask for is by searching the historic USGS topographic maps index: Map Index to Topographic Quadrangles of the United States, 1882-1940, by Riley Moore Moffat. It was published in 1985 in the Western Association of Map Libraries, Occasional Paper no.10. You can also contact USGS Information Services in Reston, VA at:

U.S. Geological Survey
Information Services
507 National Center
Reston, VA 20192

Or call 1-888-ASK-USGS (which is 1-888-275-8747) or email

If you are looking for a map of an area, but you're not sure of names, give as much information as possible, including the State, county, and town or township; year of interest or range of years; as well as the type of information you are looking for on the map - for example, streams and rivers, railroad lines, roads, or cultural features. A researcher will then be able to determine if any maps in the USGS historical collections will suit your needs.

To view copies, check with USGS depository map libraries by respective State. Also, some maps may be viewable on the Internet by checking on the links in our show notes (, or

General information about historical mapping, including non-USGS sources of information can be found in the USGS Fact Sheet 154-99. Additional resources are available from the Library's Selected Map Web Links page under the Historical Maps listing, once again, as seen in our show notes (

And now you know. Join us again every weekday for a new CoreFact. For other CoreFacts, or for CoreCast, our in-depth science podcast, go to We are accepting your science questions, so if you're curious about something that we can answer, send us an email at or leave a voicemail at 703-648-5600, long distance fees apply.

The USGS CoreFacts is a product of the U.S. Geological Survey, Department of the Interior.

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