how to use BLM downloads as a image layer ?

US Bureau of Land Management allows me to download historical surveys. They have 3 file type options to choose from: PDF, JP2 or SID.

I have installed PicLayer (vers 31241) for JOSM. It doesn’t like PDF or JP2. Presumably SID is even more esoteric. Unbuntu thinks SID is Commodore-64 audio. :roll_eyes: SID also failed to load in PicLayer.

Is there something I’m missing here ?

One other detail. The PDF files will not display in the DocViewer on Unbuntu. They do open in preview on Mac OS X. This may have something to do with the high resolution used in those files.

JP2 is just JPEG 2000 format ( PDFs probably need to be converted to TIFFS. SID looks to be MrSID ( Most can be read by QGIS & GDAL so can be converted to other formats. In all cases they will need georeferencing, and may work by being reduced in size. I just looked at a BLM map of a township in Oregon and the file is enormous but there is scarcely anything on it.

Thanks, I will look into that.

Your point is valid, with some reservations. After downloading 30-40 township maps, the interesting bits vary greatly from map to map. One of the most interesting ones (and happens to be the one I live in) is the Florida 014-E 010-S survey of 9/25/1857. That one shows the location/extent of Fort Fanning. Most people, that I have spoken with, were not aware that one corner of the fort abutted the spring. Additionally several roads (likely a trail blazed thru the woods) are shown. But I agree with your point in general, some of the surveys show nothing but the survey lines and chain measurements.

My observations have been that later maps (1840s-1850s) are more detailed than earlier maps (1820s). Perhaps the next generation of surveyors had better skills.

It’s also important to remember, that in the earlier days, these surveys were living paper documents. They were not so much surveyed, put in a large filing cabinet, only to be pulled for reference, they were being annotated as the situation on the ground evolved. One example of this is the Florida RR (segment from Gainesville to Cedar Key) which did not exist when the survey was drawn, but was added (in red color) after the route was chosen.

There is something funny going on with those PDF files. They open fine on Mac OS X, but do not open on Ubuntu. I tried to convert one with the Ubuntu supplied command line tool, got a JPX Steam Error. The tool did try to produce a TIFf file (~25 MB), but that would not open. I was able to “save As” the PDS to a TIFF on OS X (again ~25 MB), going to move that over and see if it works.

The JP2 files, will not open either. I can see the content of one in the FireFox file browser thumbnail, but FireFox would rather I save it as a different name, or delegate a Ubuntu app to open it.

Success. The way to handle these files, is to convert from PDF to GIF or PNG, on OS X using Preview, then move the converted docs over to Ubuntu. PicLayer will then scale, rotate, etc, as much as is necessary. One thing I learned is to scale in both directions first, until the section lines have the same dimension as the USGS topo maps, and rotate last. Align the PNG over the topo layer, then hide the topo layer, and move the the data layer to draw features over the historical survey map.

Posted here to save someone time, the next time this is tried.