About Amerisurv| Contact    
Magazine | Newsletter    
Flickr Photos | Advertise    
HomeNewsNewsletterAmerisurv DirectoryJobsStoreAuthorsHistoryArchivesBlogVideosEvents

Sponsored By

Software Reviews
Continuing Series
An RTN expert provides everything you need to know about network-corrected real-time GNSS observations.
Click Here to begin the series,
or view the Article PDF's Here
76-PageFlip Compilation
of the entire series
Test Yourself

Got Answers?
Test your knowledge with NCEES-level questions.
  Start HERE
Meet the Authors
Check out our fine lineup of writers. Each an expert in his or her field.
Wow Factor
Sponsored By

Product Reviews
Partner Sites







Spatial Media LLC properties




Home arrow Archives   The American Surveyor     

Connections Print E-mail
Written by John R. Stock, PS   
Thursday, 04 June 2015

A 1.757Mb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine—complete with images—is available by clicking HERE

Where we stand is where we have always stood—places like the Valley of the Nile 1000 years before Christ, digging in the mud for a stone monument that marked the boundary of irrigated lands and were an important part of the annual process that made Egyptian culture flourish.

We stood on the great roads of the Roman Empire aligning and grading as we have always done, advancing civilization into the wilderness, and were respected.

We stood in the Elizabethan Court making our reports to Royalty, and were venerated.

We stood at the edge of the vast new world that is now the United States of America and surveyed it coast to coast, amid untold hardship and danger.

We stood in impenetrable jungle and surveyed the Panama Canal, amid disease and dangerous construction.

As surveyors we also went to war and built things like runways in forgotten places-- Guadalcanal, and Saipan, and the Burma Road, in locations our children can't even spell. We returned to the jungle in the 1960's and served again, only to stand at walls and cry.

And now we stand on the threshold of other frontiers--the unconquered heavens and the ocean depths.

But somewhere in the last 60 years we have lost something--the respect, the honor, the perceived importance to civilization. Kindred professions have been chipping away at our franchise, telling us we are not important, only a support group (and sometimes a scapegoat). We could make more money selling newspapers.

These thoughts are racing through the subconscious in 2015 as a cadastral surveyor struggles his way up through the last vestiges of black timber in a place known as "Yankee Boy Basin". The monument he searches for now is critical to wilderness designation--not mining--times change. As his lungs scream for air he remembers how twenty years and that many pounds ago these hills weren't as steep. He marvels about the tough U.S. Mineral Surveyors that came here in the 1880's with nothing but a solar compass and Gunter's chain and did phenomenal work. Now, it is just a carbon fiber stick with a yellow box stuck to it and what looks like a short KFC bucket on top with blinking lights and some hurtling devices 11,000 miles up to tell everything.

50 more feet up--ten feet left the yellow box tells him... close enough to dig. Alone in the alpine meadow at 12.000 feet the surveyor starts down. It is 11:30 in the morning--sunny, warm and still. As he digs he notices all of a sudden a cool breeze coming down his back, a slight reminder of the unholy hell that will break loose later in the afternoon. Boiling black thunderclouds will come over Imogene Pass with a vengeance. Thick lightening will pound the glacial cirque and ricochet across the basin, blasting desk-sized boulders from the walls. Inch hail will flatten everything that isn't covered. But he digs on. Suddenly there's a hard clunk, and he changes to the trowel and brush. Here it is! Corner No. 2 of the Yankee Boy Claim MS No. 5640--mission accomplished! The clouds have now started to arrive and the hollow booming lightening is now audible. But somehow the surveyor is so overwhelmed by the Technology, History, Education, Experience--and his predecessors that it must be let out. Standing he shouts in exuberance until his lungs will give no more in the thin air. And the cirque answers him back with his own distorted voice, punctuated by thunder.

In Panama City the Canal surveyor lays down his pencil on the cross section paper for a moment, experiencing a strange warmth.

On a quiet Nebraska prairie evening the Union Pacific Railroad surveyor in his caboose ceases his calculations for a moment--certain that he heard a strange but friendly voice from outside.

In a great manor hall in Elizabethan England the Royal Surveyor stammers in his report and must gather his thoughts for a moment before he continues.

The Roman surveyor stands at sunset looking down his line of stakes with satisfaction while winding his plumb bob as a warm and gentle breeze brushes past.

And finally, the sweating, groaning rope-stretcher on the Nile rises from the mud where he has just uncovered the stone that he sought. Jerking around and looking for whoever was yelling--not a soul in sight--must be the heat--or something on the wind.

© 1992 and 2015 John R. Stock. This article originally appeared in Backsights Magazine published by Surveyors Historical Society

John is a past president of NSPS, and works for the Flood Control District of Maricopa County, Arizona.

A 1.757Mb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine—complete with images—is available by clicking HERE

< Prev   Next >

 American Surveyor Recent Articles
Thought Leader: Land is Too Important to Be Left to Land Specialists
A while back I was searching the Internet for an old treatise on land titles. A Google query yielded a book published in 1914. The author was Charles Claudius Kagey and the book was titled "Land Survey and Land Titles, a book for boys and girls, a reference volume for property owners, a text ....
Read the Article
Jason E. Foose, PS 
Decided Guidance: Wacker vs. Price - Irony in Sevenfold
This month's case takes us to Phoenix, Arizona in 1950. The Arizona Supreme Court went all guns-a-blazin' in Wacker vs. Price (216 P.2d 707 (Ariz. 1950)). Maybe it's just me, but I'm sensing plenty of irony and have taken license to point it out along the way. I like what the Court did with this case ....
Read the Article
Allen E. Cheves 
Around the Bend - A Visit to Carlson Software
The Ohio River is one of America's greatest, running near 1,000 miles between Pittsburgh and the Mighty Mississippi. Much of the coal and other products that fueled our nation's industrial expansion flowed between the shores of this maritime ....
Read the Article
Lee Lovell, PS 
Surveying & Mapping Economics Part 3 - Customers & Services
This article continues an inquiry into the economic conditions of the Surveying and Mapping industry (NAICS 541370) using data from the U.S. Census Bureau. This time we will look at customers and services. The data comes from the Economic Census conducted every 5 years on American ....
Read the Article
Jerry Penry, PS 
True Elevation: Black Elk Peak
Black Elk Peak, located in the Black Hills region of South Dakota, is the state's highest natural point. It is frequently referred to as the highest summit in the United States east of the Rocky Mountains. Two other peaks, Guadalupe Peak in Texas and ....
Read the Article
Larry Trojak 
Bringing The Goods - Mobile Scanning an Integral Component
When Jim Smith, Jerrad Burns and Charlie Patton left the Memphis division of a major construction company in 2015, they took with them the knowledge of how to get even the most complex jobs done and what equipment could best serve them in making that happen. So when they joined West ....
Read the Article
Lee Lovell, PS 
Test Yourself 41: Integers, Integers, and Integers
ABF is a 5:12:13 triangle, ACF is a 48:55:73 triangle, ADF is a 3:4:5 triangle, and AEF is a 7:24:25 triangle, all with integer sides and inscribed in a semi-circle. What are the lengths of BC, CD, and DE? ....
Read the Article
Wendy Lathrop, PS, CFM 
Vantage Point: Sunset or Sunrise?
While we often think of legislated government programs as static, they do change over time. Such evolution and opportunity for transformation are part of the dialogue in reauthorizing these programs. Every so many years there is a sunset on each government program, and this September is the ....
Read the Article


Amerisurv Exclusive Online-only Article ticker
Featured Amerisurv Events
List Your Event Here
contact Amerisurv


JAVAD Intros
Spoofer Buster

press [at] amerisurv.com
Online Internet Content


News Feeds

Subscribe to Amerisurv news & updates via RSS or get our Feedburn
xml feed

Need Help? See this RSS Tutorial

Historic Maps

post a job
Reach our audience of Professional land surveyors and Geo-Technology professionals with your GeoJobs career ad. Feel free to contact us if you need additional information.


Social Bookmarks

Amerisurv on Facebook 

Amerisurv LinkedIn Group 

Amerisurv Flickr Photos 

Amerisurv videos on YouTube 



The American Surveyor © All rights reserved / Privacy Statement
Spatial Media LLC
905 W 7th St #331
Frederick MD 21701
301-695-1538 - fax