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Guide to Historical Maps in the Special Collections and Archives Research Center

A guide to the types and uses of historical maps in SCARC's collections

Historical Sketch

A bathymetric map of Crater Lake. Though they chart the inverse of topographic maps, bathymetric maps look very similar, and show the contours and depths of bodies of water, such as oceans, lakes, or rivers. Primarily created in service of research and navigational safety, the first bathymetric measurements were made in Egypt in 1800 BCE. Early measurements, referred to as soundings, were made using long poles with incremental markings; later, weighted lines was used. Either method, however, were far less accurate than modern day methods, as all depths were taken at specific points, and could be affected by seasonal water levels and other factors (e.g. stormy seas). Lidar and ship-based sonar are the modern methods in use in the 21st century.


Crater Lake National Park Maps, 1903-1962
The Crater Lake National Park Maps consist of topographic, shaded relief, and bathymetric maps of Crater Lake, Oregon, and vicinity; most of the maps were prepared and published by the U.S. Geological Survey. The bulk of the maps are topographic maps at 1:62,500 scale. These include an early series of maps issued in 1903, 1911, 1925, and 1931 as well as a later series issued in 1946 and 1956. In addition to topographic contours, the maps depict streams, roads, trails, boat landings, Ranger stations, and campgrounds in the vicinity. The earliest topographic maps reference the 1886 survey and depth soundings conducted by Mark B. Kerr for the U.S. Geological Survey.

A bathymetric map of Crater Lake prepared in the early 1960s by John V. Byrne is also part of the collection (Folder-item 1.4). This large scale map (3 in = 0.5 mile) depicts the lake depths with contour intervals of 10 fathoms. This map may have been prepared for the Lunar Geological Field Conference in Bend, Oregon in 1965 and published with the conference guidebook.

State of Oregon Maps Collection, 1866-2000

The State of Oregon Maps Collection includes a diverse selection of maps of Oregon. The collection includes single-sheet maps of the full state of Oregon and detailed maps of specific areas. Maps of counties, cities, and regions of the state are included. Topics of the maps include geology, soils, agriculture, recreation, traffic flow, dams and reservoirs, land use, and physiography. Most of the maps depict roads, city and town locations, and political boundaries. City and county maps include street names, buildings, and historical sites. All regions of the state are represented in the collection, including all counties and many cities and towns. Maps of Corvallis and Benton County are in a separate collection. Folder 22.19 includes bathymetric maps of the Pacific coast from Tillamook Head to Heceta Head and the Umpqua River to Cape Ferrelo, and dating between 1968 and 1971.