Two-Heel Drive reader Erik Cox directed me to the site of a guy who has collected all 56,000 U.S. Geographical Survey maps and intends to make them available to the public. He’s already collected $1,600 to defray his costs and now he’s busy getting them uploaded to the Internet Archive. About the guy:

My name is Jared. Two and half years ago I was looking for topographic maps to plan a bike ride. I was surprised to find that to get access to the Public Domain digital maps, I had to buy them from the USGS, or one of their business partners… and they weren’t cheap. I thought this was silly, so I attempted contacting the USGS to get access to this Public Domain data for free. First through proposal of cooperation, then through Freedom of Information Act requests. While failing with both routes, I started the Libre Map Project. I began collecting these digital maps bit by bit, and making them Freely available for download via the Internet.

I got great feedback from hikers, college professors, municipal workers, geocachers, and many many others. However, progress was slow, and the map data was inconsistent and incomplete. So I cooked up this idea to buy all the maps from a USGS business partner, and hold them hostage until enough people chipped in to cover the costs to truly liberate the maps once and for all. I hope you will help me free the maps!

Jared’s blog is here — I’m sure he’ll post an update when the maps are available. He also has a cool side project: visiting every town in Vermont.