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Home arrow History   The American Surveyor     

Two prominent southwestern historians wrote in an introduction of a jointly published book: "Americans are a people peculiarly addicted to celebrating anniversaries." I am one of those who have the bug and have on various occasions used anniversaries of one kind or another to write about it. Professional societies are just as hungry for suitable material for their newsletters and magazines as is the public media, but ....
80+ Articles by Fred Roeder
John Austin Survey
To become an owner of land in 1824 under Mexican law one had to do certain things­pay a fee, take possession of the land, perform certain rites, and reside on and cultivate the land for a minimum of two years (this also meant defending one's life and properties against any war parties of ...
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A Line Runs Through It - PLSC Supports New 40th Parallel Exhibit
The northern Front Range of what is now Colorado was a pristine wilderness well into the 1850s, trampled only by a small number of trappers and explorers, and by the light footprints of native peoples who had inhabited the area for over a millennium. These halcyon days changed quickly with the discovery of gold in nearby ....
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2006 Original Corner Recovery
The year was 1847 and dew was running in intermittent rivulets down the canvas lean-to. The men ate their breakfast of sourdough biscuits, served with a generous portion of salted pork and what was left of the bluegill dinner from the previous evening and washed down with camp coffee. Deputy surveyor John Burt was getting the crew ready for...
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$250 Fine or Imprisonment for Disturbing This Mark
Eight words that have long been associated with land surveying, "$250 Fine or Imprisonment for Disturbing This Mark" were intended as a serious warning to anyone who considered tampering with one of our valued survey monuments. The imprinted wording that appeared on many monuments not only...
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Woodward's Ice Bar
In the modern era of getting fast measurements with GPS, probably few surveyors today realize the painstaking efforts made by the United States Coast & Geodetic Survey (C&GS) to measure their triangulation baselines in the late 1800s....
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Message in a Bottle
When thinking of past scientific measuring instruments developed by the United States Coast & Geodetic Survey (C&GS) over the past two centuries, a message in a bottle probably doesn't come to mind. For most people, the allure of placing a message in a bottle and sending it adrift to an unknown...
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NGS Celebrates 200th Anniversary
Two hundred years ago an Act of Congress, approved February 10, 1807, authorized a survey of the coast of the United States. This action, immediately following the successful return of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark's exploration of our western frontier, gave President Thomas Jefferson yet another reason to feel confident...
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Compleatly Surveying at Mount Vernon
On a recent fall weekend, a cluster of land surveyors gathered at the long time residence of the father of our country and one of the fathers of American surveying. On October 27, 2006, a dedication ceremony was held at Mount Vernon, Virginia sponsored by the Mount Vernon Ladies Association, the conservators and...
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The Art of Colonial Surveying Instruments
When I first laid my eyes on the Lewis Michael compass illustrated here, words could not describe the emotions I felt. I was looking at one of the most beautifully engraved examples of the 18th-century colonial instrument maker's art. I have been collecting colonial antiques for decades and had never seen an example...
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Perhaps the Most Incorrect of Any Land Line
In the April 2006 issue of the Southwestern Historical Quarterly appeared an article by Ralph H. Brock entitled "Perhaps the Most Incorrect of Any Land Line in the United States" ­ Establishing the Texas-New Mexico Boundary Along the 103rd Meridian." In a meticulously researched and well-written article...
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Rocky Mountain High - Finding the Western end of the 6th PM Base Line
Finding a small chiseled cross established 147 years ago and 21 miles deep into Colorado's Front Range of the Rocky Mountains would be the ultimate challenge. That challenge was met by seven determined men after six months of research, planning...
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State Surveys of the Great Depression
The Great Depression of the 1930s, largely triggered by the stock market crash of 1929, affected virtually every occupation including land surveying and civil engineering. Engineering companies that thrived in the roaring 1920s found themselves searching for any work. By the fall of 1933, the Federal Emergency Relief...
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The American Surveyor in Photographs {The First Fifty Years 1840-1890}
In museum archives and private collections across the country, and still hidden away in old trunks and boxes in the attic, there are visual treasures waiting to be discovered. These treasures are the old photographs that provide a direct window to the past...
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Court Ordered Corners
The original monuments established by the deputy surveyors under contracts from the Government Land Office have always been intended to be fixed in position where they had been placed and deemed unchangeable. "That the original township, section, and quarter-section corners established by the government surveyors must stand as the true corners which ..."
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