Earth Imaging Journal: Remote Sensing, Satellite Images, Satellite Imagery
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January 26, 2016
New Heartland Maps for the New Year

New US Topo maps for Iowa and Kansas are now available in the USGS Store for free download. The new maps of these Midwestern states feature the inclusion of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing (TIGER) road data.

“The addition of TIGER’s roads layer into the US Topo maps is a great example of how data from one agency can benefit another agency,” said Timothy Trainor, Chief, Geography Division, U.S. Census Bureau. “The Census Bureau and the USGS have a long history of collaboration and sharing. This is another win for the American public.”

The USGS recently released Wisconsin US Topo maps which were the first to feature TIGER data. Another important addition to the new US Topo maps for Iowa and Kansas is the inclusion of Public Land Survey System data. PLSS is a way of subdividing and describing land in the US. All lands in the public domain are subject to subdivision by this rectangular system of surveys, which is regulated by the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management.

Other improvements include the insertion of “crowdsourced” trail data from the International Mountain Bike Association, and most recently, trail data from the U.S. Forest Service. The US Topo map improvement program has entered its third, three-year cycle of revising and updating digital US Topo quadrangles. These new US Topo maps replace the second edition US Topo maps and are available for no-cost file download from The National Map, the USGS Map Locator & Downloader website , and several other USGS applications.

The TIGER database is provided by the U.S. Census Bureau and was created before the 1990 census to provide over a million unique maps sheets to census enumerators. The TIGER was the basis for the first coast-to-coast digital map to modernize the once-a-decade count. Since 1990, TIGER has evolved into a dynamic mapping system that helped catapult the growth of the geographic information system industry and improve Census Bureau data products. The TIGER database contains all geographic features — such as roads, railroads, rivers, and legal and statistical geographic boundaries — needed to support the Census Bureau’s data collection and dissemination programs. The TIGER/Line Shapefiles are constantly improving, updated annually, and available for free download. TIGER’s roads layer includes 6.3 million miles of roads.

The original TIGER GIS vector data are available for free download from the TIGER products page. TIGER data are public domain, so using these road data on US Topo removes a previous use restriction from this USGS map product

To compare change over time, scans of legacy USGS topo maps, some dating back to the late 1800s, can be downloaded from the USGS Historical Topographic Map Collection.

For more information on US Topo maps: http://nationalmap.gov/ustopo/.

2016 Des Moines SE US Topo quad. 2016 Des Moines SE US Topo quad with orthoimage
Updated 2016 version of the Des Moines SE US Topo quadrangle with orthoimage turned on. (1:24,000 scale) Updated 2016 version of the Des Moines SE US Topo quadrangle with orthoimage turned off to better see the improved road network. (1:24,000 scale)
1905 legacy topo map of greater Des Moines
Scan of the 1905 legacy topographic map quadrangle of the greater Des Moines area from the USGS Historic Topographic Map Collection.

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