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DOWNLOAD SHAPEFILES: Canada FSA Postal - Zip Code - U.S. Waterbodies & Wetlands - Geographic Names - School Districts - Indian Federal Lands
Zip Code/Demographics - Climate Change - U.S. Streams, Rivers & Waterways - Tornadoes - Nuclear Facilities - Dams & Risk - 2013 Toxic Release Inventory TRI

Maptitude Mapping Software
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MapCruzinTM Learn2MapTM Tutorial and Atlas
Copyright © 2006, Michael R. Meuser, All Rights Reserved
(ISBN 0-9713214-6-9)

Introduction - Startup - Sample Project - Your Project - Add More - Free GIS - Conclusion


There are several free sources for additional layers in shapefile format that will work with ArcExplorer and can be added as themes to any map you are working on. Check the sources on the next page and also click here for my archive of free map layers.

For this example I have chosen to download the National Parks map layer from BTS (Bureau of Transportation Statistics). Click on the link below, "BTS 'background' map layers." The link will take you to this page:

Scroll down to National Parks and download it to your c:/mapcruzin_maps/downloads/ directory. 

Once downloaded you can add it to your project using the previous steps for adding a theme.  Add other layers in a similar manner.

One thing to note. As you learned earlier, ArcExplorer will open themes that are in zip format for you. When it does this it actually unzips the file and adds the corresponding shapefiles to your directory.

If you add the zipped files as themes to a project that already contains some themes, you may find that ArcExplorer will make you create a new project that only includes the most recent added theme. To get around this, you can use the Theme --> Add Theme menu to add the previous themes that are seemingly "lost." Make sure that you add the file(s) with the "shp" file extension rather than those with the "zip" extension.

Downloading BTS Map Layers

Note: All of the BTS files listed below are available on CD from BTS. Click here for more information.

Click here to download any of the following BTS "background" map layers (As of 091506 the above was still available, but recently many things have been removed from this website. If you can no longer find this data, please email me at [email protected] and I will make our archived copies of this data available to you.):


  • Public-Use Airports
  • Amtrak Stations
  • Automatic Traffic Recorder Stations
  • National Populated Places
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Ports
  • Intermodal Terminal Facilities
  • Weigh in Motion Stations


  • Hazardous Material Routes
  • Highway Performance Monitoring System
  • Railway Network (1:2,000,000 base scale)
    • United States (line)
    • United States (node)
  • Public Use Airport Runways
  • Fixed-Guideway Transit Facilities
    • Links
    • Stations
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Navigable Waterway Network
    • United States (line)
    • United States (node)


  • Bureau of the Census Urbanized Area Boundaries (1:100,000 base scale)
  • The 109th Congressional Districts Boundaries (1:100,000 base scale)
  • U.S. County Boundaries (1:100,000 base scale)
  • Hydrographic Features
    • United States (line) (Data Dictionary)
    • United States (polygon/arc)
  • U.S. Military Installations
  • Metropolitan Planning Organization
  • National Metropolitan Statistical Areas (1:100,000 base scale)
  • Non Attainment Areas
    • Carbon Monoxide
    • Lead (Data Dictionary)
    • Nitrogen Dioxide
    • Ozone
    • Particulate Matter 10
    • Particulate Matter 2.5
    • Sulfur Oxides
  • National Park System Boundary Dataset
  • U.S. State Boundaries

Downloading National Atlas Map Layers

Click here to download the following National Atlas map layers. Before you download, you can read a detailed description of the layer(s) that interest you. Be sure to click on the "shapefile" to download. Note that the atlas is being "built" on an ongoing basis. New map layers are added continually so check the National Atlas page often if you are interested in this material.

  • Agriculture Census

  • Average Annual Precipitation

  • Breeding Bird Survey Routes of North America

  • Cancer Mortality

  • Coal Fields of the United States

  • Crimes

  • Dams

  • Hurricane and Cyclone Tracks

  • Hydrologic Unit Boundaries

  • Landslide - Costly Events

  • Magnetic Field-Declination Component

  • Mineral Operations - Various

  • Mortality

  • Parkways and Scenic Rivers

  • Principal Aquifers

  • Public Land Survey System

  • Earthquakes

  • Time Zones

  • Urban Areas

  • Volcanoes

  • Water Features

  • Check back frequently for more layers

    Continue --> 6. FREE GIS RESOURCES

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    Of Interest

    Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Maps

    Climate Shift - The effects of climate shift on the future of planet earth and its inhabitants.

    Right to Know or Left to Wonder?

    Hazardscapes - Toxic and Nuclear Risks in your backyard.

    War & Environment

    Worst Case Scenarios: Terrorism & industrial chemicals.

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