The Perry-Castaneda Library Map Collection at the University of Texas at Austin has begun an ambitious project to scan all available pre-1945 USGS topographic maps for all US states that don’t currently have them available online. They are starting with Texas and working their way out from there. As of today, Texas, New Mexico, Louisiana and Arkansas are available online and more states should become available in the coming weeks and months. The scans are available in JPG format and are public domain.
I’ve also heard rumors that the USGS may be working on a nation wide scanning project of historic USGS maps. Unfortunately, I’ve been hearing those rumors for many years and have yet to see any results.
I hope to get these added to the Google Earth Library collection of historic USGS topographic. But that will also be an enormous undertaking because each map has to be georeferenced, and converted into KML/KMZ format.
I’ve been playing around with the idea of organizing a group of volunteers to help with the process of georeferencing historic topo maps. I will try to get the ball rolling on this effort. Basically, I’m looking for volunteers to download the maps, georeference them, fill out a few details about each map in a spreadsheet, and upload the georeferenced map back up to an FTP site. The resulting georeferenced maps would remain in the public domain. I could also really use some donated web server space (100+ gigabytes) that doesn’t have restrictions on number of files or hosting files for this purpose.
If you want to contribute, contact me through the form on this page. If you have contacted me previously, I will be reaching out to you in the next week or so.