NGA Facilities Operating Status »
Contact Us »


John James Abert

Starting in March 1829, John James Abert headed the U.S. Army’s Corps of Topographical Engineers and its heritage organization, the Topographic Bureau. For 32 years under Abert’s leadership, the Corps of Topographical Engineers, which recruited the best soldier-scientists, or “Topogs,” Abert could find, made explorations that resulted in the comprehensive mapping of the American West. In his writings, historian William H. Goetzmann described the Corps of Topographical Engineers as “a central institution of Manifest Destiny.”

Abert was so synonymous with the Corps of Topographical Engineers that the organization existed for only two years after his retirement. It was merged with the United States Army Corps of Engineers in 1863.