I suspect that this information is available at the Census Bureau. It seems like something they ought to have. I spent some amount of time there, but can't locate exactly where they keep it.

I found this page: https://www.census.gov/geo/maps-data/data/kml/kml_tracts.html

But when I download the data for VA there's no mention of Lorton in it. Nor can I find any code associated with Lorton.

This is just one example. I want to know how to get KMLs in general for different areas. So a general solution would be preferable to a specific answer to this question.

  • you wand CDP or Census Tracts? You say CDP, but you link to Tracts.
    – albert
    Commented Jan 16, 2018 at 23:22
  • I want the KML for Lorton CDP. That tract file was one of several that I looked at. I started with places ... because I thought it would be there: census.gov/geo/maps-data/data/kml/kml_place.html but no luck....otoh...i just tried again and had success.
    – elbillaf
    Commented Jan 17, 2018 at 0:38
  • ah... boogers....yes. that worked. I don't know what my mistake was last time. I think I was trying to do too many things at once...lunch at work, some stuff in the back ground. Summary: I was looking in the wrong area, I overlooked it in the correct area. I'm set now.
    – elbillaf
    Commented Jan 17, 2018 at 0:45
  • go ahead and answer this as an answer and not in the question, if you don't mind.
    – albert
    Commented Jan 17, 2018 at 3:55

1 Answer 1



I needed to look in the correct area of the census site. I went to the page:


and selected Virginia to download the place zip file for this state.

I opened the zip file and brought the first kml (the largest one, titled "cb_2016_51_place_500k.kml") into a text editor. I then searched for "Lorton" and copied that entire <Placemark> ... </Placemark> section into a separate file I called "lorton.kml"

I then went to google "my maps" and created a test map and loaded the kml into a layer to confirm it works:


Edit: Two more solutions:
1) Open KML in Google Earth and search through each layer, unselected all that are not what you desire, and save.
2) Opening KML in QGIS does not give you write options, so I saved it as GeoJSON, the opened the GeoJSON file. From there, toggle edit options, then open up attributes table. Each CDP is a row, so I selected all but the desired row (Lorton) and deleted them. Then saved the file as KML.

  • Your use of Google My Maps here is interesting, I was wondering what that drive link went to. geojson.io reads KML, SHP, and CSV, but has some size limitations. However, it also integrates with GitHub, so you can save your file to a repo or as a gist.
    – albert
    Commented Jan 17, 2018 at 16:03
  • I used My Maps because that's the only tool I know. I am only an egg, but I'm looking to accrete knowledge of other tools and techniques, as well as other data sources.
    – elbillaf
    Commented Jan 17, 2018 at 17:39
  • No worries, I certainly wasn't giving you grief, just had never thought about it actually. Geojson.io is my go-to, but like I said, it has size limitations. I'm willing to bet My Maps does not/can handle larger sizes and with more grace. I'll be adding it to my arsenal, thanks to you! Segue: what's your interest in ffx? If you can't talk about work, I understand, but I have/know where tons of resources are for the commonwealth, if that strikes your fancy.
    – albert
    Commented Jan 17, 2018 at 18:23
  • 1
    My immediate goal was to delineate certain specific areas where I want to document wildlife. Like this: inaturalist.org/observations/9338868 My long-term goal is that I would like to add a modest amount of GIS experience on my resume. I don't need to be an expert, but enough to say honestly that I have some familiarity with it.
    – elbillaf
    Commented Jan 17, 2018 at 18:39
  • great goals! i can show you were a lot of wildlife data for va is, unless you only want to document what you see, which is a great objective too! i wasn't aware of inaturalist, so thanks for that! you can ping me at jalbertbowden google's email service if you have any questions or want to know somethings. In an ideal world, we'd have all of virginia's observers adding datasets to an open data portal, but until then we are working with what we got!
    – albert
    Commented Jan 17, 2018 at 21:04

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