Nearly 90,000 high resolution scans of the more than 200,000 historical U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) maps, dating back to 1884 are now available free online. The historical maps are available to the public at no cost in GeoPDF format or as a printed copy for $15 plus a $5 handling charge from the USGS Store . The electronic maps are georeferenced and can be used in conjunction with the new USGS digital topographic map, the US Topo. Thanks to the Lee Allison, the Arizona State Geologist in his blog, Arizona Geology, for the heads up.
The maps can be viewed at more than 150% after being downloaded. This is a fantastic collection. In the past, when I had to consult a topographical map, I had to spend time at my local library pulling maps out of the huge map drawers and trying to figure out which one I needed. If I found what I was looking for, I had to take the map to the copy machine and try and get a good copy of the part of the map I had found. Now, I can get much higher quality in color on my computer screen and do a screen shot, like the one above, to select a portion of the map. I can then save the map or portion of the map as a PDF file and transfer it to my iBooks App on my iPhone. This collection adds to the huge number of maps available in the National Map Program. I have written about maps a number of times, but this is one of the most significant additions to the online maps to have been added recently or ever.
The USGS News Release states,
Historical maps are an important national resource as they provide the long-term record and documentation of the natural, physical and cultural landscape. The history documented by this collection and the analysis of distribution and spatial patterns is invaluable throughout the sciences and non-science disciplines. Genealogists, historians, anthropologists, archaeologists and others use this collection for research as well as for a framework on which a myriad of information can be presented in relation to the landscape. For more than 130 years, the USGS topographic mapping program has accurately portrayed the complex geography of our nation through maps using the lithographic printing process. The historical collection contains high resolution scanned images from the USGS legacy series and other sources.The entire historical collection is being loaded into the USGS Store at a rapid pace. Check the website for continuous updates: http://nationalmap.gov/historical.
If you haven't looked at the National Map site, you have missed one of the most valuable mapping sites on the Internet for the United States. More than 30 states are now partially or almost totally covered by the new USGS digital electronic topographic map, the US Topo.