TOPOGRAPHIC MAP
A DISCUSSION OF CONTOUR, TOWNSHIP, AND RANGE LINES

CREATED IN PART BY:
CRYSTAL MCDANIEL, crmcdaniel@hotmail.com,
MARCH 30, 2000

INTRODUCTION

This page fulfills an assignment for an Introduction to Earth Science Lab course at Emporia State University. The subject relates to Chapter 9, Introduction to Topographic Maps, found within our book, Introduction to Earth Science Lab.

Topography is the configuration of the land surface, including its physical and man-made features.  Contour and township and range lines all contribute an important part in understanding how to interpret topographic maps. These symbolic representations provide elevation and location information shown on the map.

Topographic maps can be used for many of things, such as searching for a good biking trails, canoeing, or traveling routes.  They can be used to locate certain places and there elevations.  Topographic maps also show geomorphic features, such as those created by wind, streams, or glaciers (thick ice that results from compaction and recrystallization of snow).

CONTOUR, TOWNSHIP, AND RANGE LINES

 Contours show the topography in a region on topographic maps using brown lines.  They are imaginary lines on the Earth that connect points of the same elevation and give a third dimension, as demonstrated with this image.  Contour lines are specifically used to find elevation on a map and help us understand the condition of land forms and other special features.  The difference in elevation between the two closest contour lines is known as the contour interval.  These elevations are given in feet or meters. Taken from: USGS Reading Topographic Maps

 Image taken from: http://www.igage.com/atm2.htm. Township and range lines are used to find specific locations on a topographic map by a system that is dependent upon latitude and longitude.  These too, are imaginary lines, which are devised to help make topographic maps more at ease to read and locate certain places.  The lines are in a grid pattern on the map.  Township lines are used to show how far north or south one is from the zero line or baseline. The lines run in an east and west configuration.  Range lines are run north and south and mark township boundaries east and west of the zero line or principal meridian.  The distances between places are measured in degrees or minutes and seconds.  An example of citing a location of a place on a topographic map is T24N, R96W, or township 24 north, range 96 west.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, topographic maps are used to aid in locating land surface elevations and locations, using contour, township, and range lines. Different symbols on the map, such as bench marks and schools, are also used to interpret features found in the region. I hope this page and the external links help you to understand and appreciate topographic maps.