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Guide to the OSU Libraries map and aerial photography collection.

Sources of Geographic Information

With a few exceptions, these sources are primarily limited to what is physically available in the Maps and Atlas collection. Much of this information has gone online and can be found with a search browser; you may also wish to consult the tab in this Guide for Maps Online.

City Maps 

  • To see if we have a specific city map, look for [city name], [country (or state)]--Maps as subject in 1Search or the Maps card catalog in the Maps area. (For example, a map of Corvallis could be searched for as Corvallis, Or.--Maps.) They will have a call number for you to locate them by.
  • Official highway maps of many states often have city insets (and distance charts within the state); search in 1Search@OSU with the state name and  Road maps as your key words to get call numbers.
  • A distance and driving time chart for the U.S. as well as U.S. Railroad Distance Table can be found in the Rand McNally Commercial Atlas and Marketing Guide 
  • Goodes World Atlas and other Rand McNally atlases have metropolitan maps.
  • Note that we have only a few maps for foreign cities, and most of these are more than 30 years old.
  • The Internet is often a much better option for up-to-date city, road, and tourist maps..

Land Ownership (Cadastral)

Most of OSU Libraries' information on land ownership is historical in nature. For more current information you will need to go online. Here are some of your options:

  • Some U.S. Geological Survey and U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) maps indicate private, state, and public ownership. Check 1Search or the maps card catalog under subjects [state] -- Public Lands, Land -- [state] or Public Lands.

Outline Maps

  • In the maps card catalog, look under the subject [state] -- Maps, Outline and Base.
  • In 1Search, use the name of the state with the words outline maps, and refine your results to Maps.
  • For 8½ x 11" maps of the world, individual countries, or states, look in binders on the Map Reference shelves.

County Boundaries

County Seats

  • Rand McNally Commercial Atlas has a chart for each state that gives counties and county seats.
  • Columbia Gazetteer of the World is one of the best sources of place information. Information is in dictionary form, and there is direct entry under county names; earlier editions for 1962 and 1880 are also on the shelf for historical information.
  • American Places Dictionary contains good county information including outline maps.
  • National Association of Counties (NACo) (online) is the only national organization representing county government. Its website contains information and databases that non-members can access. Find information such as county officials, courthouse addresses, county seats, cities within a county as well as various statistical and geographical information.

Township and Range

If your question is: Where is Section ??, Township ??, Range ??

Many maps show township and range, and some show section numbers also. Here are some suggested approaches.

  • Find the appropriate state 1:1,000,000 or 1:500,000 map in 1Search, or use Andriot's Township Atlas of the United States and locate the general area of the specific Township & Range. Once the general area is known you can use one of several different options:
    • For Oregon places, individual Metsker county atlases for the appropriate county can be useful (located in SCARC). While these atlases are old, the township/range information has not changed, and it is very clear and easy to read
    • There are state Metsker atlases for both Oregon and Washington; in them is a map for each county in the state which shows township/range.
    • Some other county maps also show township/range (search [name] County, [state] --Maps or --Road maps in 1Search to get call number).
    • U.S. Geological Survey topographic maps are very good sources for township, range and section numbers. Find the appropriate sheet using the index maps or by looking up the place name online in GNIS)--or go online to USTopo
    • If the place is in or near a national forest, the National Forest maps show township/range (in 1Search, use the forest name as the keyword and limit to Maps).

If you need to convert Township and Range to Latitude and Longitude (or the other way around) you can install a tool that will show this in Google Earth from Earth Point,​


Highest and Lowest Points by State or Country

  • World atlases often have this kind of information
  • Another source for world information: ALMANACS such as World Facts and Figures. These will tell you highest, lowest, warmest, coldest, wettest, driest, longest, largest, deepest, etc. by country. They also includes country and city population information. 
  • USGS has a page called Elevations and Distances in the United States 

Latitude and Longitude

  • For the latitude and longitude of specific places, you can use individual gazetteers by state (all but Oregon are in the main stacks) or foreign country (search [state or country]--Gazetteers or Names, Geographical--[state or country] in 1Search. The more current foreign gazetteers are on microfiche).
  • Some gazetteers in atlases give latitude & longitude.
  • The online Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) from the U.S. Board on Geographic Names replaces the state gazetteers.
  • It is also possible to determine latitude and longitude from atlases, USGS topographic sheets, and other maps, but this is not generally as precise as consulting a gazetteer.