"Advanced Cartography" or, Finding Places on Digital Maps

by Lost Adams
(Washington, USA)

GNIS Names Portal

GNIS Names Portal

GNIS Names Portal
Query Form
Feature Names List
Feature Detail Report

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!

Comments for "Advanced Cartography" or, Finding Places on Digital Maps

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You are preaching to the choir
by: David


In the past, I have offered to share any where up to 50/50 to folks who stated an interest in recovering buried treasure. No guaranties of actual recovery but a good effort at getting one.

They got real excited until I mentioned sharing expenses. Then they start stuttering. I had a couple of people that wanted me to pay all their expenses to get to the site and a guarantee that they would receive no less than a certain minimum on their non existent investment. When I told them they would have to dig up the cache as a partial payment for their share, I got an email telling me I was a no good ______ (fill in the blank).

I replied to the email stating that I hoped they would find someone else to support them for the rest of their lazy existence but that someone was not me. I also stated that since they did not agree to my terms, I was rescinding my offer as of the date of my email.

I do not make such silly offers any more. I finance my own projects if and when I can find the money to do so.

I have contacted a couple of the "big dog" recovery firms in the past. They were, surprisingly to me, a lot more cordial. Bottom line, one said, show us that you have made a substantial recovery on your own. Then contact us again and we will talk. He added a bit. He said that it costs them around US $ 3000/day to stay onsite during an underwater recovery attempt. So they are cautious.

Stan's response: Thanks for the additional and valuable insight David.

Dennis in Oregon
by: Anonymous

Are you Dennis Dickerson out of Grants Pass, Oregon?

Hard won Prospecting Research Stuff Shared Freely!
by: Lost Adams

Stan, I made up a 6-hour seminar in January of last year. The title was, "Researching Lost Gold Mines and Treasures". I set the price at $295.00 for one day.

The few requirements were a reasonably modern laptop that could be hooked up to a LAN cable with a minimum of 10/100 mbs. This was because of the intense graphics download needed to keep up with the class.

I restricted the class to 20 because I wouldn't be able to help the slow ones keep up. I was planning on hiring 2 additional people that were extremely tech savvy to help the slow ones to keep up.

This research seminar would have presented and taught World Class Research Techniques I have put together over the last 40 years. I started Studying Karl von Muller's treasure hunting books 6-7 and then accumulated other books to read the "old boys" way of researching these subjects. I spent hours sitting in front of almost all the TH'ing and Gold Forums.

The response was only one guy was willing to fly in from Las Vegas, book a motel and pay me for the class. The others gave me a plethora of excuses and wanted me to personally teach them for that price, NOT.

Stan, you have always recognized and encouraged me in the responses on this site and our private emails. This is why I am sharing this with you and the other members.

I am SO tired of "Partners" in this GAME, or what they think is a "Get-Rich-Quick Game". I'm SO tired of the scammers and the bullshiters who think that they are entitled to my hard-won years of experience for little or nothing except just showing up. Sorry for the "Digression Rant", but its the TRUTH.

In the old days when you wanted to learn something trade/knowledge, we would go to the OLDEST person that was still working at that trade and apprentice yourself to that person for, hopefully, "board and room" while learning that trade.

I have decided to have no more partners in on my expeditions.

Sincerely, Bill "Lost Adams"

Stan's response: Yes Bill, times have certainly changed, haven't they? I think I understand your frustration quite clearly. New times call for new marketing strategies and tactics. Many people expect to get information & stuff for free these days. Hold to your guns partner.

Great info
by: John

Thank you so much for sharing this info!
Best of luck in your endeavors.

Thanks for info
by: .Dennis in Oregon

Thanks Bill
I will Bookmark this page and will have to study all this information and give it a go. Thanks for sharing Bill. Yes Stan, Thank you Too, and hope your health is ok.

Best Regards Everyone, Dennis

by: David

Thanks, That is good info. I do not know how many times I would have liked to have gotten an older map.


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