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125 Years of Topographic Mapping

U.S. Geological Survey: a History of the National Program for Topographic Mapping (1884–2009) and Continuing Innovation into the Future.

  • Topographic maps became a signature product of the USGS because the public found them — then and now — to be a critical and versatile tool for viewing the nation's vast landscape.
  • From the 1880's until the advent of computers and geographic information system (GIS) software, topographic maps served as the essential instrument for the integration and analysis of place-based information.
  • In the last quarter-century, advancing technologies have transformed topographic mapping science from the printed product to digital data and on-line based applications.
  • Along with highlighting a legacy of 125 years of topographic mapping, the National Geospatial Program of the USGS is proud to release a new type of digital topographic map and the new interactive viewer for The National Map.

History of the Topographic Branch History of the Topographic Branch (Division)
A history of topographic mapping at USGS from the late 1800s to the middle of the nineteenth century.


A 125 Year History of Topographic Mapping A 125 Year History of Topographic Mapping and GIS
in the U.S. Geological Survey 1884-2009, Part 1
1884-1980


A 125 Year History of Topographic Mapping A 125 Year History of Topographic Mapping and GIS
in the U.S. Geological Survey 1884-2009, Part 2
1980-2009


Historical Mapping Photographs - Mapping the West Historical Mapping Photographs - Mapping the West
A collection of historical USGS mapping photographs.


Mapping the Grand Canyon in 1923 Mapping the Grand Canyon in 1923
The Birdseye Expedition surveys the last stretch of the Colorado River yet to be mapped in 1923.


A Celebration of 125 Years of Topographic Mapping A Celebration of 125 Years of Topographic Mapping
The U.S. Geological Survey is celebrating the 125th anniversary of its national program for topographic mapping (1884–2009).


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