Lesson 9a: Accessing US Topo Through the USGS Store

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Lesson 9a: Accessing US Topo Through the USGS Store. This lesson will cover how to access the USGS Store and where to download free USGS Topo maps. 


Date Taken:

Length: 00:05:32

Location Taken: US


In this lesson, we will discuss the USGS Store and how it can be used to access the US Topo.

 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. 

 Everybody has their favorite place to download a USGS topographic quadrangle.  However, are you positive that you are getting the most current map?  The USGS Store maintains the most up-to-date version of each and every topographic quadrangle.     

Did you also know that you can access more than 178,000 historical topographic maps of the United States through the store?  The Historical Topographic Map Collection contains all the topographic maps published by the USGS since the inception of the topographic mapping program in 1884.  

This module will show you how easy it is to locate, download and use these maps.  These FREE maps are published as PDF. PDF was chosen as the format for these products because it is the only format that can carry vector data, raster data, map symbology, and text fonts, can be displayed on a normal office computer without specialized software or expertise and will allow a map to be printed at the correct scale without specialized software or expertise.   

 One of the easiest ways to locate and download historical and current USGS topographic maps is to visit the USGS Store.  The store can be found at the address shown (http://store.usgs.gov).  Additionally, there are many other items that can be searched for and found at the store.  Some of these items include: maps, recreational passes, educational products, books and reports and other products.  Check out the scrolling information bar at the top of the page for access to new and updated products, like the America the beautiful, lifetime senior pass. 

 In this lesson, we are going to concentrate on finding, downloading and using historical and current topographic maps. To begin accessing your topo map of choice, you should click on the Find Maps by Location selection.  Then select U.S. Map Locator to open the Map Locator tool which will appear in the same window.  The easiest way to find the quadrangle you are after is to use the search bar at the top of the page. You can search for maps by entering an address or place name or decimal degree coordinates.

For example, let’s look for an address or place and enter Weldon Springs, Missouri. You can also see the topographic quadrangle boundaries on the map. You can see the Map Locator found the town and dropped a blue marker on the site.  Use the zoom in and out buttons at the upper left of the map to zoom in further.  Then use the Map Indices button, just below the zoom buttons, to turn on the topographic map grid.  Since US Topo is a 1:24,00 scale product, select 1:24,000 scale from the list.  Ensure that this is the quadrangle you want.  You can zoom in and out and pan around the window to make sure you have selected the correct quadrangle.  

Now click on the View Products button to see a list with the newest US Topo available for this quadrangle, as well as all the historical topographic maps made for this location.  As you can see, the newest 1:24,000 scale Weldon Spring US Topo was produced in 2017.  As you scroll down through the quads you will note that this location has been mapped all the way back to 1903.


You can see that the list also includes new and historical maps for surrounding quadrangles.  You can adjust the date range at the top of the list, and also select certain map scales.  Some of the maps also have thumbnail images.  You can download the map or order a copy here – or you can also View more Details.  Let’s click on the View more Details button for the new Weldon Spring US Topo map.  This will open a new window which contains more information about the map.  You can order a printed map for $15 or download the PDF file for free.  If you click on the View/Download button, you will see the PDF file begin to download immediately

In this lesson, we briefly discussed the USGS Store, how it’s accessed, and the types of products available at the store. We also discussed how you can access US Topos utilizing the Map Locator and Downloader. The US Topo itself will be discussed in more detail in a future lesson.

This concludes Lesson 9a, please return to the course homepage to continue to Lesson 9b.