USGS Color Topographic Maps of New Jersey (7.5 Minute)

bobpbx

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Boyd, when I'm looking at these maps, is there a way to tell the year of the map? I don't think it's in the info section unless I'm missing it.
 

Boyd

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The info is available, but it's not so obvious how to find it. Follow the link to the downloadable version of the map here and you'll see an index with the dates of each quad:

https://boydsmaps.com/1999-in-the-pines/

These are rather small and hard to read, but if you click on the documentation link, the first page of the PDF file has a big version:


You know, I was going to include this in the map info on the online site but never got around to it. Note that I have used the newest (final) version of each quad. As you can see, many of them were not updated for 40 or 50 years, until they were completely discontinued around 2000. Now this info is only relevant for my "1999 in the Pines" map. The dates of maps such as the NJGIN 24k topos and the arcGIS topo here at NJPB are unknown.

Use the same procedure to find the publication dates of the 1899, 1949 and Cook topo maps.


I did not research the dates of the Vermeule maps, except they are said to have been published during the period 1870-1887.
 
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Boyd

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Looking at your question again... it looks like maybe you are talking about these maps instead of my own "1999 in the Pines". When asking a question like this, it would have helped if you posted an actual link to the maps you're talking about. :)


NJGIN does not disclose the dates of these maps. I suspect they're rather old, since they are based on DRG (Digital Raster Graphics) quads, which is an old (and rather poor quality) format that isn't used anymore.

I updated my post above to make this a bit more clear.
 

Boyd

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I found the info in the archives a little confusing. There was a printing date for each map in addition to publication date. I don't think the printing date implies that anything actually changed on the map, just that they ran off another batch when the supply was low. You would need to track each quad through the years and compare to find out any changes (they were usually done in purple ink).

USGS has really dumped these maps and now only considers them "historical documents", you can no longer download the actual maps from them, just geoPDF files from the historical archives. That makes them a pain to work with, you need to extract the map image from the PDF file, then crop the collar before actually doing anything. And there's a crazy range of colors between different maps. Many of them have bright yellow forest shading instead of green. It's not clear whether the ink changed color as it aged, whether there was something weird about the scans, or if some maps really did have yellow forests!

The older DRG maps (that were used by NJGIN as well as the old Terraserver website) are no longer available from the USGS, although you can still find them here and there on various state websites. I wanted to make my own regional 24k USGS topo and last spring I downloaded about 30gb of maps from NJ, PA and NY. Started assembling them into a seamless map, but when I looked closely I felt the quality just wasn't good enough. Ended up trashing everything I downloaded and giving up. :bang:

Even though they're a pain to work with, the USGS historical topographic map archives is the only place to get high quality scans of these old maps.
 

bobpbx

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Yes, I agree, the printing date means nothing.

USA photo maps had a full set of topos from USGS, and they are on my computer in some format. I ran into a problem and cannot access USA right now though I do have the files. I bought a new computer....a Dell precision with 526 gb solid state drive and 16 gb of memory. It's really smooth, quiet, and fast, but I had the geek squad move all my old program data to a portable drive, and I'm having a hard time piecing the USA stuff back together. I'm hoping Guy can help me.
 

Boyd

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The USA Photomaps were from Terraserver which used the old USGS DRG's described in my post above. So the NJGIN 24k topo maps should be the exact same thing. You can access all of this on my site if you only want NJ maps. And you can use Mobile Atlas Creator to send these to a Garmin GPS or smartphone app. I also used to have a large area of the old USA Photomaps stuff, but it's long gone, and good riddance. There are better sources for that stuff today.

You could also look at Birdseye Topo. It will give you a year of unlimited downloads of the 24k topos (for the entire US) for $30, which seems reasonable (considering the high prices Garmin charges for other maps). Like the other Birdseye imagery, you can continue using whatever you have downloaded even after your subscription has expired, but it will be locked to the original GPS it was purchased for.

 

Boyd

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Well, I think that's why it only costs thirty bucks. Look at Garmin's other maps.... for example, their Northeast 24k Topo only covers a handful of states and costs a hundred bucks. For me, I'd rather pay $30 for BIrdseye since I only have one compatible GPS anyway rather than $100 (or whatever) for multiple devices that I don't own.

But frankly, I think Birdseye is all but worthless. Awkward to download and use, and I've never been impressed with the quality (you can make higher resolution maps yourself with Mobile Atlas Creator). I think you're missing the forest for the trees here. The *real* scandal is that Garmin forces you to purchase Birdseye to use their JNX map format. If you want to make your own raster imagery (like aerials or scanned maps), you have to use their horribly crippled "Custom Maps" (.kmz) format. This limits you to a very small area and the performance is horrible - that kind of map cannot keep up with you at driving speed in the car.

The BIrdseye JNX format supports huge maps and the performance is much better. There's a hack to make you own JNX files, so that's what I use myself, but you have to jump through a bunch of hoops to make it work. But Garmin is living in the past with all of this. There are free, open-source modern map formats used by smartphone apps that are vastly superior to Birdseye. There's no technical reason why Garmin doesn't support these - it's all about marketing and forcing you to buy their map products.

But anyway.... this is what you get with a monopoly, and that's what Garmin has. Nobody else sells handheld GPS units anymore. :argh: