On March 3, 1879, the USGS was created by the Organic Act of the 45th Congress. The USGS was established as a logical extension of the territorial surveys that were led by King, Hayden, Wheeler, and Powell. In 1879, the Federal Government held title to more than 1.2 billion acres of land, nearly all of it west of the Mississippi River, and only 200 million acres of this land had been surveyed.
The USGS has accomplished a great deal since that beginning. It has produced 55,000 topographic maps that represent the topographic coverage of the nation. Now available on-line are more than 181 million individual daily streamflow values, measured at more than 21,000 locations throughout the United States, and operate more than 7,000 streamgages nationwide. This past year the USGS located more than 30,000 earthquakes worldwide by collecting data from an integrated system of national and international seismic networks. And the USGS has banded more than 57 million birds over the past 100 years to monitor their status, trends and migratory patterns.
The USGS has created a special 125th anniversary website (www.usgs.gov/125) that provides a window into the history of the organization. The public is invited to visit this site frequently during 2004 as the USGS continues to celebrate the challenges of scientific exploration and discovery ? yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
The USGS serves the nation by providing reliable scientific information to describe and understand the Earth; minimize loss of life and property from natural disasters; manage water, biological, energy, and mineral resources; and enhance and protect our quality of life.
Source: USGS, March 3, 2004