LandscapeI’m not talking about some local parcel of land being here in North Carolina. For the first time to my knowledge, I can now get a free look at land anywhere I wish within the boundaries of the United States! You see, for many years as a backpacking enthusiast, scout master, and now as one who loves family history; I’ve always visited the Archdale Building here in Raleigh in preparation for my outdoor adventures. Topography maps purchased for around $10 give the best view of landscape including trails and elevation. And in terms of family history, they locate cemeteries as well as creeks and small paths. The maps are a must for those who need a close look at land and how it’s used.

Today, while at the Archdale Building to pick up a map for my newest challenge, I had a wonderful conversation with one of the lead folks in the North Carolina Office of the United States Geological Survey. I’ve known for a while that you can order hardcopies of topo maps online. They take a week to arrive. You can also buy the digital files for the maps too. But today I learned that there’s no need to pay for the digital files. They’ve actually been paid for once in their making so why pay again?

There’s sites online where you can continue to pay if you like, but also, I learned of the USGS site where you can get loads of maps for free! …. Yes FREE! Regardless of whether you’d like to look at land in New York City or the Wild and Wonderful West Virginia, the site is loaded with maps from across the Country. They have new maps as well as historic maps and you can fade the old maps so that you can compare what the land looks like now versus at some earlier date…say 1900!

So, enough of looking at my typing and here’s moving forward to the site:
Simply click on the “TopoView” button and start your own adventure. And, if you’d like, you can also start with the following online tour showing you how best to use this wonderful resource.


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