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Backpacker Magazine – May 2010

The Map Vault: Inside the USGS Repository

No one loves maps more than a backpacker, and the USGS's central repository in Denver is a veritable cartographic paradise.

by: Mark Harrison

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The USGS Map Vault lobby and corridor. (Emily Davis)
The USGS Map Vault lobby and corridor. (Emily Davis)
Building 810 is four football fields long. (Google Images)
Building 810 is four football fields long. (Google Images)

Top topos (2009 unit sales)
1. Middleburg, VA (824)
2. Mt. Mitchell, NC (819)
3. Mt. McKinley (B-1), AK (719)
4. Englewood, CO (672)
5. Union Furnace, OH (653)

Tech heaven Dying to get your hands on USGS reports like “Subsurface Occurrence and Potential Source Areas of Chlorinated Ethenes”? You’re in luck. The Map Room is home to one of the richest storehouses of
geological and cartographic data on the planet.

Miles of maps The Joe Bila Map Room houses 19 million maps and at least one copy of each of the 56,700 individual quads that make up the Lower 48. If you laid out the entire set, you’d have a 1/24,000 scaled map measuring about 700 feet wide.

Golden ticket
Deep in the Map Room lies the distribution center for the national parks’ America the Beautiful Annual Pass ($80, In 2009, 20,000 shipped from here.

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