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Nevada In Maps: Home

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Check out the Nevada and Great Basin Maps Collection formally known as the "Nevada in Maps" Digital Map Collection, from the University Libraries' Digital Collections.

Collections include: 

  • Historical Aerial Photos (Limited Aerials) 
  • Historic Maps of Nevada and the Great Basin
  • Historic Sanborn Maps
  • Historic State Land Office Maps

Nevada in Maps - Digital Collections

Nevada is the 7th largest state of the 50 United States; in 2010, Nevada was ranked 35th in population size by the US Census. The print cartographic resources found in Nevada are primarily located in the University of Nevada's, Library collections at Reno and Las Vegas, the Nevada State Library in Carson, and the Nevada State Historical Society in Reno. These institutions are separated by as much as 450 miles across the state. To ameliorate the situation, this site offers an ever-expanding collection of digital maps on Nevada and the Great Basin.

The original focus of the digital map site was a collection of historic maps of Nevada presenting topographic, geologic, and mining themes which are not found in total, in any of these institutions. Many of these maps are over 100 years old, deteriorating, rare, not cataloged, and therefore, not readily available or even known to all the potential patrons in Nevada. There are now over 4,000 maps and atlases on this site with many more to be added.

The second presentation to be offered was the Nevada History in Maps site, originally a collection of nearly 50 historic maps dating from 1750 into the 20th century. This set of maps depicts the western discovery and settlement of Nevada, as presented from the collections of the above-mentioned institutions.

These first digital collections offer Nevada's history cartographically for students and researchers at all levels, for legal use, and for the general public for infinite applications.

This digital site has now been expanded to include contemporary maps of Nevada and the Great Basin, many of which are not cataloged or readily available to the general public. These maps may be of use to students and faculty in all levels in the schools of Nevada, the commercial researcher or anyone wishing to view or use cartographic depictions of this state.

The maps in these digital collections are offered in several images to accommodate varying levels of connectivity and without requiring technical skills to access. All maps are offered without copyright or other restrictions for personal use, but a statement noting the Mary B. Ansari Map Library, University of Nevada, Reno, as the digital origin would be appropriate and appreciated. Commercial use may have restrictions for certain collections as a whole or for individual maps; please contact the owner of the original, listed in the metadata.

Linda Newman, Geoscience & Map Librarian Emerita,  September 2006


Updated July 2018 by Chrissy Klenke, Earth Sciences, GIS and Maps Librarian 

What's in the collection?

Historic maps of Nevada are scarce and found in only a few of the state's repositories of cultural heritage. In the earliest maps Nevada, along with much of the Western Hemisphere, was originally identified, if at all, as 'terra incognita' - unknown land. This collection of historic maps was selected by age, condition, and how well they would be presented on a website, in addition to their general representation of the development and settlement of the area which became the state of Nevada. 

The historic maps included in this collection were published by the U.S. government, Nevada and other state or territorial governments, publishers of commercial maps and atlases local and national, and associations such as the Lincoln Highway Association. Most are published on printing presses but some are hand-drawn manuscripts; most are in English but some of the earlier maps are in French. By constraint of available material, the history presented is focused on western settlement. Although few were found, maps representing Native American settlements or culture were included.

The printed copies of the historic maps currently in this online collection are owned by the Nevada Historical Society, the Nevada State Library and Archives, and the Special Collections Department, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Reno. Until now, they have not been readily accessible to the students of this large state nor to the general public except through on-site visitation. Compounding their obscurity, their cataloging is limited and, therefore, they are largely unknown to the casual researcher. The inventory for the initial selection was carried out by the UNR map librarian, who was thrilled by the collective depth of their holdings and deeply appreciates the willingness of these institutions to share their rare materials for this project. Continuation of this statewide review of maps held by other institutions will undoubtedly produce a much broader spectrum of maps for this site.


On behalf of all the users of this collection, we thank the Library Administration for approving this project and the Nevada State Historical Society and the Nevada State Library and Archives, especially Michael Maher, Eric Moody, and Jeff Kintop for their assistance, encouragement and willingness to loan these unique and often fragile maps for the purpose of scanning. 

Without the help of the other members of the project team, this site would not exist, and I continue to express major admiration and appreciation. 

Finally, our gratitude for the Mary B. Ansari Endowment for the Map Library which provided much of the funding to scan the maps. 

Site Information

A selection of three different image display formats is made available for a more detailed review of the historic maps in this collection. The images were scanned at 24-bit color on an Ideal Magnum Wide Format FSCX050 scanner at 300 dpi to create high resolution, uncompressed TIFF images. Early in 2004 with financial assistance from the Mary Ansari Endowment, the library acquired an IDEAL/Contex Magnum XL 54" Plus Color Scanner. It scans at 24-bit color, up to 2400 dpi and will scan media up to 0.6 inches thick and up to 54 inches wide. The scanner was manufactured in Denmark and distributed in the U.S. by Ideal Scanners & Systems and is considered to be one of the best front-loading large format scanners available at this time. This scanner is now the primary equipment for this project. 

The JPEG files were derived from the TIFF file. The TIFF files were converted into the DjVu® format at a compression ratio of up to 220:1 using LizardTech's DjVu® compression software. The image files all live on the UNR Libraries' NAS server. Small representational images were loaded into the CONTENTdm® digital project management software, then metadata was created for each image including web links to the three different image display formats. Of these, Djvu images are most easily displayed on desktop computers of limited capability or connectivity. A one-time download of the free DjVu browser plug-in is necessary and provided for this purpose. The metadata provides detailed information on the original and digital map. There are no copyright restrictions.

The JPEG 2000 format is used to present many oversized images in the maps collection. JPEG2000 is a published international ISO standard (ISO 15444). Based on newer wavelet compression technology, it offers both lossless and lossy compression and provides better image quality than JPG at smaller file sizes.

The Nevada in Maps project team:

Linda Newman, Geoscience and Map Librarian Emerita
Vicki Toy Smith, Catalog Librarian Emerita
Glee Willis, Digital Projects Librarian Emerita
Araby Greene, Web Development Librarian Emerita