Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Mapping the Globe

   As we drive around with our GPS devices, find our destinations with Mapquest and soar over the globe with Google Earth, we fail to recognize the work of the people who made it all possible: the surveyors and mapmakers of the past.
   Using elements of geometry, engineering, trigonometry, mathematics and physics, these unsung heroes spread out over the globe in a quest to establish fixed points on the Earth's surface so that we could accurately measure boundaries, elevations and distances. This posting will pay tribute to these adventurers, who often had to travel to the unexplored places on the planet to do their work.

Early mapmakers often produced inaccuracies in scale and distance because there were no fixed points to measure from.

Various devices were invented over the years to accurately establish fixed points using the sun and moon.

The boundaries for private property could not be established without an accurate survey.

The various devices used for surveying appear complicated and unfathomable to the general public.

A more modern surveying instrument.

Our growing nation needed surveyors as much as it needed farmers, businessmen and soldiers.

Surveying tools included the Chain, which allowed for accurate measurement of distance.

   Much of the Midwest was surveyed and in 1785, a system was devised for measuring all new lands being settled. Land was to be systematically surveyed into square "townships", six miles on a side. Each of these townships were sub-divided into thirty-six "sections" of one square mile or 640 acres. Each section was 60 chains wide.

Once an area was accurately surveyed, "benchmarks" were permanently installed to provide accurate points from which to measure.

A surveyor hard at work in the snow.

Surveyors had to work in all kinds of climates to get the job done.

Marker for the Geodetic Center of the United States.

Surveyors with a makeshift tripod.

Surveying parties often had to bring along their own vehicles, supplies and support staff on their expeditions.

Sometimes the surveying points were not in the most convenient locations.

A survey team mounted high in the sky to get their measurement.

Who says surveyors can't be fashionable?

A brave surveyor at the peak of his career.

1 comment:

  1. Nice historical surveying photos! For all surveyors and surveying enthusiasts, I would like to share this with you. http://landsurveyorsunited.com/photo

    Scott D. Warner, RLS