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In the early 20th century under the rule of the US on the continent military topographic study of the country does not seem necessary. Therefore survey mapping was carried out by many agencies of the federal administration and separate states to meet different needs without any concern of cartography of the whole country. USGS prepared topographic maps for georeferencing of geological surveys. The purpose defined characteristics of these maps - a detailed depiction of the relief by horizontals, essential in geological survey and engineering, detailed display of administrative and economic delineation of land and, on the contrary, disregard for the vegetation.

Although topographic maps were very useful for railway construction, reclamation, as well as land inventory, USGS created maps mostly for geological surveys, which ultimately determines the weak topographic study of the United States. In the 20s of the 20th century cartographic activities were dispersed in 12 US Government agencies and only in 1925 Congress imposed on topographic division of Geological Survey a task to create topographic maps for the whole country.

In 1941-1968 US military mapping service has been a major publisher of maps for the US Department of Defense. The main aim of the military mapping service was a compilation, publication and distribution of military topographic maps for the US Armed Forces.

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