"Advanced Cartography" or, Finding Places on Digital Maps
by Lost Adams
GNIS Names Portal
Stan, here is an article I wrote for the SWWGPAA Club Newsletter a few years ago. I hope your readers can get enough use out of this method to help them in the USA for their Treasure and Gold Hunting.
Have you ever read or heard of a place where to find gold or a treasure and didn't know where or how to get the map? Or maybe the story teller didn't reveal enough detail to find the place. You know how some gold miners are. Well, there is a way to find and download the topographical maps for “free”, as I will reveal in the next few paragraphs.
First, we need a name to find so I'll pick one from my “Lost Adams” space at random. I recall a lost gold mine story from Ruby S. Hult's book, “Lost Mines and Treasures of the Pacific Northwest”.
On page 114 is the story of the "Lost Sheepherder Mine", south of Vale Oregon. In the story, it tells of the area being between three mountains, west of the Owyhee River. The mountains are shown on a crude map that was published in the 3-11-1951 edition of the Portland Oregon Journal. The mountains are: FREEZEOUT MTN., SOURDOUGH MTN., and GRASSY MTN.
So, we need to find a starting name. Let's pick Grassy Mtn. and then we go to the USGS's GNIS(Geographic Names Server) and click the following link:
Or, you can Google GNIS to go there. Then, in the upper left hand corner, you should see a link that says “Search Domestic Names”. Click it.
In the “Feature Name box”, type Grassy Mountain. Then, pick the State in the drop-down box. Second on left of the page, just leave the County Blank for now, because we don't know what county it's in yet. Then, click on “Send Query”. The program will display any and everything that has “Grassy Mountain” in it.
I received 10 results, the first two being in Lane County, so I know they're not what I'm looking for. I see that third and fourth down are “Summits”, so I click on the fourth one that is underlined in the feature name column. I know which one to choose, so if you don't, then you will have to experiment with several choices until you find the right one.
Next page is the “Feature Detail Report” page. On it will be the GPS coordinates for the feature and to the right is the 7.5 min. topographical map which says “Grassy Mountain”.
Now, the neat thing is the box on the far right that says, “Mapping Services”. It lists hot links to the different mapping programs on the internet that can be used to view the map with.
The best part of that box is that when you click on a link from this page, it will automatically place you on the relevant topographical map at the GPS coordinates feature you were searching for! TRY IT OUT!
For the second part of the QUEST, we know the name of the modern topographical map. Now, we want to get an old, topographical map that still has all of the cultural features pinpointed on it. This is in the USGS's “Historical Map Collection” that is downloadable in .pdf format from their servers.
For this adventure, we Google “USGS Historical Maps”, or go to the USGS's map server at:
Scroll down the page until you can see the highlighted link, “Historical Topographic Map Collection” search. Click on it and then in the upper left, choose your State from the drop-down list. In this case, we will choose Oregon. Then, enter the topographic map’s name we got from the GNIS Server, “Grassy Mountain”. Click “search”. If you want to restrict the search to “only historical”, then click the button on the right that says “Historical”. Then click “search”.
What we receive is three selections that are in the 7.5 min (24,000) scale and the oldest is the 1967 edition that was imprinted in 1971.
In the column “download Geo pdf, select the little picture with the right arrow and then wait for the file to download, or select “Open” and the zip file will open when downloaded.
Then, double click on the file name and it will open the pdf where you can “save as” to the directory of your choice. This method saves duplicated files on your computer and keeps you from having to guess at which USGS coded filename is the one you are looking for. You'll see what I mean later.
For those who would go after this true treasure story, DON'T. I've already confirmed the location and the company that is mining the 18" wide vein that is running 96 ounces of gold per ton!
Sincerely, Bill "Lost Adams"
Stan’s response: Wow Bill, thanks so much for sharing this “hard won” information with us! I can’t begin to express just how important this type of research is to anyone who would be successful with exploration projects in the field. This is exactly how the pros do it. It usually takes years to figure this stuff out on your own. Thanks again Bill!