Issues in Science and Technology, Online A Publication of National Academy of Sciences National Academy of Engineering Institute of Medicine University of Texas at Dallas
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U.S. Geological Survey

Our photo shows the U.S. Geological and Geographical Survey of the Territories, conducted by Ferdinand V. Hayden, on the trail between the Yellowstone and East Fork Rivers in 1871. The Hayden Expedition was one of five surveys conducted of public lands west of the Mississippi River in the 1870s. In 1878, in accordance with an act of Congress, the National Academy of Sciences was asked to evaluate these surveys and devise an overall plan for surveying the western territories. NAS established a Committee on a Plan for Surveying and Mapping the Territories of the United States, which recommended that a new government agency, the U.S. Geological Survey, be established within the Department of the Interior. When a subsequent act of Congress created the USGS, it marked the first time an Academy committee had helped establish a major scientific government agency.