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Environmental - Local Resources: Finding USGS Topographic Maps

Finding USGS Topographic Maps


Search Tips

1.  Find and download USGS topographic maps. 

U.S. Geological Survey topographic maps of Washington State (and the entire U.S.) can be found using the search tool in the USGS online store. There is no need to buy a paper copy. Use the search tool to find maps and download the free digital version or come to the library to use the paper map. Most mapped locations in the local area have a range of dates to choose from and comparing older and newer maps will usually reveal chnages. For instance, an 1897 Tacoma quadrangel available for free download on the USGS site clearly shows salt marshes in what is now the Port of Tacoma.

  1. Go to the USGS online store.
  2. Zoom in until you see your area of interest.
  3. Choose the Mark Points radio button.
  4. Click in your area, a marker will appear.
  5. Clicking on the marker will bring up a list of available maps to download.
  6. Choose maps by clicking the "+" in a box to the right of the map.
  7. View Download Cart.
  8. Download.


2.  Search for the topographic series in the catalog.

When searching for topographic maps, use the phrases indicated in red (quotation marks included).  If you are searching for 7.5 minutes maps, you will see both Tacoma and Seattle holdings.  Many maps in Seattle are available for interlibrary loan.  Please check with the reference desk if you are unsure how to order a map directly through UW WorldCat.

  • For topographic maps at the 1:24,000 scale, enter
    [state name] "7.5 minute series"
  • For topographic maps at the 1:100,000 scale, enter
    30 x 60 minute series planimetric and topographic
  • For topographic maps at the 1:250,000 scale, enter
    "United States 1:250,000"
  • For historic Washington state topographic maps at the 1:62,500 scale, enter [no interlibrary loan]
    "Washington 15 minute series"
  • For historic Washington state topographic maps at the 1:125,000 scale, enter [no interlibrary loan, but see historic washington maps online]
    "Washington 30 minute series"