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Using Maps & Atlases: US Topo

This is a guide with information on maps and atlases at DePauw University Libraries.

US Topo Information

The early phases of the US Topo program are discussed in a May, 2011 paper []. In September, 2012, the first three-year production cycle was completed and nearly full coverage of the conterminous United States with a new national map series was achieved.

Mass Production of Contour Maps

The primary strategic goal of the US Topo program is to refresh the national map series for all U.S. states and territories on a regular three-year cycle. For the conterminous 48 states alone, this requires publishing 18,000 maps per year or 72 maps every work day. This production goal has been met for three consecutive years, and between late 2009 and late 2012, the conterminous 48 states were completely covered with new topographic maps.

Maps created in early 2009 were simple image maps without contours or hydrography. These were named “Digital Map – Beta” and are now regarded as experimental and temporary. These maps were removed from public view as they were replaced with contour maps in 2012. In future three year cycles, the older maps will be retained as historical data and will continue to be available for download. The second three year cycle of US Topo production began in October, 2012.

Digital Distribution

US Topo maps are distributed through an http download service. The USGS maintains two interfaces to this service, the “Map Locator and Downloader” application at, and The National Map Viewer at

US Topo downloads from USGS Store: 

--> Go to the USGS Store:
--> Click on "Map Locator" on the left side
--> Type the geographical area of interest (ex. Golden, Colorado)
--> Click on the red thumbnail within the map to see the maps available
--> Select the file you would like to download for Golden, Colorado, select
the text "21.8MB" ( US Topo version, 2010) or "15.9MB" (Historical Map, 1965
version) or scroll down to "7.8MB" (1939 version)
--> Save to desktop
--> Right click on file to unzip the file
--> Open .pdf file  (one can zoom in, move around, and clip a file for a
presentation, for example)
** For optimum usage of the features, download the geopdf tool bar
available online at:
6-minute video about US Topo maps on line at: