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Finding Oregon Historic Maps

One of the big challenges for researchers is finding old maps of Oregon. This guide will review a number of online resources which provide rich map data for Oregon locations – some cases as a old as Territorial period (before 1859!).

Online Historic Map Resources

Historic topographic maps from circa 1900 to present are available in high definition scans from the United States Geologic Survey.

Maps can be uploaded using The National Map Download Client.

Step 1: Zoom into the location you are interested in (using search box or navigating within the map)

Step 2: Select type of historic map you want from the list on the left (7.5 x 7.5 minute and 15 x 15 minute are most commony used)

Step 3: Click on “Find Products” button at top and then click on “results” link next to Historic Topographic maps

Step 4: From list of maps, click “download” link next to quadrangle name and year you want

 

Find maps and nautical charts of Oregon’s coast, estuaries and larger, navigable rivers. Many charts date before 1900. Other coastal survey publications are available as well.

 

Main link:  https://historicalcharts.noaa.gov/historicals/search

 

From the search page you can either use

 

Option 1: “Select Point on Map” tool

  • “Enter a Geographic Place Name” search box (try “Coos Bay”- the site will guide you to a choice of coded geographical locations)

 

Option 2: Scroll down to see title keyword search box (try “Umpqua”).

 

Note: Search results can be filtered by source type (for example “nautical charts”) or year, and be accessed using the provided viewer or downloaded and used later.

 

Most of the maps in this collection are hand drawn made by surveyors hired by the  United States General Land Office  scans of which are made available from the Bureau of Land Management and the University of Oregon. They were originally made to document the land claims made by settlers to this region. Though they can vary in detail, they are a rich cartographic resource showing the location of homesteads, roads, buildings and land forms. The majority of the maps date from 1852-1910 (a handful of maps are later).

 

The easiest way to access the maps is to use the map viewer provided by the BLM:

 

http://www.blm.gov/or/landrecords/survey/yGrdOr_A.php?ln=1000000 

 

Step 1: Click inside the grid square on the map for the location you are interested in.

 

Step 2: Select a maps from the section “Survey Plats”. The date of the map is in third column.

 

Step 3: Click in the link to open a high resolution scan of the map.

 

Note: A modern “base map” of the section and the scans of the original field notes can also be viewed and uploaded.

 

A more simplified site is provided by U of O (https://library.uoregon.edu/map/GIS/Data/Oregon/GLO/index.html ) which is easy to  use if the township section number is already known.

A division of the State Library of Oregon | 250 Winter Street NE Salem, Oregon 97301 | Monday-Friday 8am-5pm | 503-378-8800 | library.help@state.or.us