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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

Maps and Recreation

A photo of three women standing in front of a mountain lake. Many people enjoy historical pursuits such as metal detecting, visiting ghost towns, and gravestone rubbing as recreation. Historical maps such as topographic maps can help such enthusiasts find the location of old town sites, identify the historic names of bodies of water, or rediscover old hiking trails and camping sites.


Early Topographical Maps of the Oregon Coast, 1868-1915
The Early Topographical Maps of the Oregon Coast document topographical surveys conducted on the central Oregon coast from Cape Foulweather to the Umpqua River in 1868 and 1887 with updates added through the 1910s.. The maps were produced by the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey under the supervision of several assistants, A.W. Chase, E.F. Dickins, and Cleveland Rockwell. The 1868 map of Cape Foulweather and the Entrance to Yaquina Bay is at a scale of 1:10,000; the remainder of the maps are at 1:40,000 scale. The maps are high-quality reproductions and depict elevations, key azimuths, English and Native American names for land features, main trails and roads, common water travel routes, lighthouses, and some information on land use.

Historic Oregon Topographic Maps, 1898-1993
The Historic Oregon Topographic Maps consist of superceded or obsolete topographic maps published by the U.S. Geological Survey. The maps cover all of Oregon as well as small portions of the bordering states of California, Idaho, and Washington. The bulk of the collection consists of 1:24,000 (7.5 min) quadrangle maps that were issued predominantly in the 1950s through 1970s and 1:62,500 (15 min) quadrangle maps which date from 1906 to the early 1970s. The maps depict topography; vegetation cover; rivers and lakes; roads, railroads, and other transportation; political boundaries; and the boundaries of national forests and parks. Of special note are topographic maps of the Willamette Valley and vicinity that were prepared in the 1900s-1910s; these depict the southern and central Willamette Valley from Springfield and Eugene to Albany. They are available online in the Oregon Maps Digital Collection.

The earliest maps in the collection are 1:125,000 (30 min) sheets published as early as 1898. The 1:125,000 maps include multiple editions for most sheets that depict changes and developments in Oregon locales from the 1900s through 1940s. The U.S. Geological Survey provides online access to these maps through The National Map: Historical Topographic Map Collection.

Lehi F. Hintze Geological Reconnaissance Maps of Oregon, 1936-1958
The Lehi F. Hintze Geological Reconnaissance Maps of Oregon consist of geologic maps prepared and assembled by Hintze for much of the state of Oregon. Most of the maps are compilations of published geologic mapping, unpublished geologic mapping done by graduate students at Oregon State College and the University of Oregon, and mapping by Hintze. The maps in Series III are published geologic maps, many of which have been annotated by Hintze. The maps reflect geologic mapping done from the mid-1930s through the 1950s. Most of the maps are hand-colored and have copious annotations indicating the sources of the information or noting questions or corrections. Some of the maps include cross sections. The maps vary in scale from 1:24,000 to 1:400,000; most of the maps are 1:62,500 or 1:125,000 scale. Topographic maps are included throughout the collection, but primarily concentrated in Series 2, 4, 5, 6, and 7 (Box-folders 1.2 - 1.4, and Folder 2, respectively).

Native American Maps Collection, 1875-1972
The Native American Maps Collection consists of maps of the Warm Springs Indian Reservation in north central Oregon; an 1875 map of native tribes in Alaska; and United States maps depicting the locations of Indian reservations. The Warm Springs maps include maps of the road system, historical maps of the Reservation and region; and detailed range survey type maps prepared in 1938-1939 and 1956. The Alaskan map depicts with color the approximate areas over which native tribes in Alaska ranged as of the late 19th century. A topographic map of the Warm Springs Indian Reservation - drawn and compiled by E.H. Coulson, published by the U.S. Office of Indian Affairs, 1929 - is included in the collection. A note on the map indicates the topographic and cultural data was obtained from field notes of a timber cruise and land classification conducted in 1922-1924 and 1926 under the direction of F.M. Wilkes.

Camp Adair, Oregon, Maps and Aerial Photographs, 1942-1973
The Camp Adair, Oregon, Maps and Aerial Photographs collection includes topographic maps, orthophotographs, and other maps and images documenting Camp Adair, which was located north of Corvallis, Oregon. Most of the materials in the collection were prepared by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the bulk are from the war years of 1942-1944. The maps offer details on buildings in the cantonment area; artillery ranges; training courses; roads, ditches and culverts; and general land features. Folder-Item 1.4, a map including includes topographic contour lines as well as Camp Adair boundaries, cantonment area, and roads, has been digitized and is available upon request.

William H. Galvani Rare Maps Collection, circa 1570-1909
The William H. Galvani Rare Maps Collection is comprised of maps and atlas pages from the 16th to 20th centuries depicting various cities, countries and continents. There are a significant number of maps related to the French Revolution, Napoleonic Wars, United States Civil War, Crimean War and the Russo-Japanese War.  The collection also contains late 19th century topographical surveys of the Adirondacks, early 20th century military surveys of Cuba, and maps detailing the voyages of Captain James Cook. Box-folder 7.3 includes general topographic maps for Texas (1861-1865) and the "Indian Territory and Arkansas" (1861-1860), both taken from Atlas to Accompany the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies 1861-1865. Box-folder 8.1 includes a topographical map of a U.S. Army Post Site Near Indianapolis, Indiana (1903).

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. One map in this collection - the 1876 General Land Office map of Oregon - is available in the Oregon Maps digital collection. Series 7, Sub-series 9 is comprised entirely of topographic maps (Folder 22).

Rangeland Resources Department Maps, 1936-1967
The Rangeland Resources Department Maps consist of materials created and assembled by Rangeland Resources faculty and alumni documenting range type surveys and studies in the Lower Powder River basin, Vale District, and Squaw Butte Experimental Range in eastern Oregon. The collection includes detailed range type maps of the Keating Soil Conservation District on the Lower Powder River in Baker County; these maps also include a land ownership overlay and tabulated acreages of different range types, cultivated land, and pasture as well as grazing capacity. These were prepared by E. William (Bill) Anderson of the Soil Conservation Service. One map of range types in the Vale District in eastern Oregon is also part of the collection. Materials created for range studies conducted in the 1930s and 1960s of the Squaw Butte Experiment Range in southeastern Oregon comprise a portion of the collection. Folder 4 includes topographic maps of Squaw Butte Ranch prepared by the U.S. Geological survey (circa 1960).

Maps of Washington (State) and the Pacific Northwest, 1863-1994

The Maps of Washington (State) and the Pacific Northwest consist of historic and superseded maps depicting forest resources, geology, public lands and land use, hydroelectric projects, highways, and railroads in Washington and the Pacific Northwest region. Most of the maps in the collection are of all or part of the State of Washington. Regional maps depict Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, and, in some cases, California and Wyoming. The maps were created by various U.S. government agencies, State of Washington departments, and private organizations. The collection includes maps created over a 150-year period from the mid-19th century through the 1990s, with the bulk of the maps documenting the early 20th century. Hand-drawn manuscript maps created by early explorers and surveyors as well as maps created from satellite imagery are part of the collection. Regional maps as well as detailed, local maps are available. Series 5 is comprised entirely of superseded or obsolete topographic maps published by the U.S. Geological Survey for various locations in Washington (Box-folder 2.2); Series 7, Pacific Northwest Maps, includes a topographic map of the Cascade Range (Folder-item 6.20), and of Mount Baker (Folder-item 6.23)

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.