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Surveying the American West with the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey By Captain Albert E. Theberge NOAA Corps (ret.) NOAA Central Library.

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Presentation on theme: "Surveying the American West with the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey By Captain Albert E. Theberge NOAA Corps (ret.) NOAA Central Library."— Presentation transcript:

1 Surveying the American West with the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey By Captain Albert E. Theberge NOAA Corps (ret.) NOAA Central Library

2 Coast Survey Emblem ca. 1850

3 Ferdinand Hassler (1770-1843) First Superintendent, Founder of the Coast Survey Alexander Dallas Bache (1806-1867), Second and greatest of Superintendents Of Coast Survey

4 From Hassler’s modest beginnings on the eastern seaboard of the United States, the U. S. Coast and Geodetic Survey has built an invisible engineering wonder comprised of over 1.5 million survey points that serve as the framework for national mapping efforts, the basis of major civil engineering works, and ultimately even control private property lines.

5 How was this network built in the western United States?

6 The 39 th Parallel Survey, the first great arc of the Coast Survey 1871-- 1900

7 Geodetic Network, 1922 Vertical and Horizontal

8 Horizontal Control Network (Triangulation), 1937

9 Vertical Control Network (Leveling), 1936

10 THE WESTERN PIONEERS George Davidson William Eimbeck Augustus Rodgers


12 Chief Signalman Jasper Bilby leading by example. Texas, 1903.

13 Packing up Kofa, Arizona 1934.

14 Going up, not down. East side Sierra Nevada, Owens Valley, California. 1933.

15 Building party on triangulation, 49th Parallel. Cascades of Western Washington. 1924

16 Kofa, Arizona. 1934. Astro Party, Arizona. 1914.

17 Crossing the Verde River, Arizona. 1924.

18 Reconnaissance Party, California. 1880’s.

19 1903 Lampasas, TX Building party along 98th Meridian Survey.

20 46th Parallel Survey, Montana. Fall, 1934. Packing out after the first big snowstorm.

21 Big Sur, California. 1932. Smart mule. Stupid mule.

22 Northwest of Helena, Montana 1934. Picking the way through fallen timber.

23 How the h____ do we get up there? Mt. Gallatin, Montana, 1922.

24 Horse rolled down mountain. Checking the instruments. Montana, 1922.

25 Tough on horses. On the way to Station Stump, Montana. 1922.

26 Headed down from triangulation station. Big Sur, California. 1932.

27 Headed to astro station. Oregon, 1916. Mt. Hood in background.

28 Rio Grande Valley, New Mexico. 1934.

29 Velocipedes. The favored mode of travel for leveling crews. Southern California desert. 1920.

30 The first truck. North Dakota1913.

31 Where dogs rode before pickups. Gypsy the Watchdog. Idaho 1920.

32 Hope they checked the train schedule. Crossing Little Missouri River, North Dakota 1913.

33 1934

34 Crossing the Red River, Granite, Oklahoma. 1920. To go where no truck has gone before. Utah 1939.

35 Kansas, 1934.

36 South Texas, 1934. Triangulation party on the move. Advent of trailers.

37 San Sabo, Texas. 1934. Mojave Desert, California. 1972. Truck troubles

38 Walker Pass, California. 1952. Triangulation work. First geodetic field party use of helicopter in lower 48.

39 Salmon River, Idaho. 1945. Custom- made Boat on the River of No Return.


41 Reconnaissance on The 98th Meridian Survey. Minnesota 1903. John J. Hayford, Chief of Geodesy Division on 60-foot reconnaissance pole.

42 Reconnaissance on Mount Tushar, Utah; at old Eimbeck structure. 1925.

43 Orienting

44 Placing a monument at the end of a base line. South Dakota, 1903.

45 Yolo Baseline, California 1881

46 Pasadena Baseline 1922. California.

47 1906, Washington, Olympic Peninsula 1914“It took men of uncommon nerve to do this work.”

48 Randall County, Texas. 1922.

49 110 - Foot Tower, San Joaquin Valley, California. 1932. 159-Foot Tower.

50 Iowa cornfield, 1928.

51 Building a tower, New Mexico. 1935.


53 Observing stand, Nebraska. 1934.

54 Observing from Station Pico Blanco, Big Sur, California. 1932.

55 Sometimes you don’t need a tower. 14000-ft + Mt. Uncompaghre, Colorado. 1895.

56 Montana 1922, Before and after lightning strike. Mt. Gallatin.


58 Heliotrope reflecting sunlight. 1870’s. Sierra Nevada, California. 192 miles longest line observed.

59 Showing light, Idaho, 1922. Car headlight with battery.

60 Showing light, Idaho 1922.

61 Showing light, triangulation, North Dakota. 1934.

62 During depression up to 10,000 men were employed on Coast Survey on short-term WPA Projects.

63 Kansas Historical Marker commemorating triangulation station Meades Ranch 1891.

64 Station Meades Ranch, Kansas. The origin point for North American Datum 1927.


66 Astro work, Arizona. 1914.

67 Astro work, Texas. 1924. Bamberg Astronomic Transit And radio for listening for time signals.

68 Astro work, Nebraska sand hills. 1973.

69 TRILATERATION AND THE TRANSCONTINENTAL TRAVERSE The basis for the modern North American Datum NAD83

70 Geodimeter Traverse, Mojave Desert, California. 1972.

71 Geodimeter Traverse, Mojave Desert, California. 1972. The Transcontinental Traverse was the most accurate large area survey ever acomplished and was the basis for establishing NAD 1983.


73 Leveling 1902, Oklahoma.

74 Leveling, Gunnison Valley, Colorado. 1927.

75 Leveling 1902, Oklahoma.



78 Leveling innovation, ca. 1920.

79 Leveling, Mt. Whitney, California. 1928.

80 Leveling, Nevada. 1935.

81 Leveling, Glen Canyon, Arizona. 1921.

82 Placing Bench Marks for Leveling, Utah. 1934.

83 Leveling Party, Whisky Pass, Colorado. 1935.

84 Leveling, Arizona. 1921.

85 Leveling, Salmon River, Idaho. 1946.

86 Leveling, running the low line. Hoover Dam, Nevada. 1941.


88 Laundry Day ca. 1920. Somewhere out west.

89 A snowy day at the Observers camp on Lolo Pass, Montana 1934.

90 Level crew camp near Ruidoso, New Mexico. 1933.

91 The opposite extreme. 1924.

92 A little recreation at Bear Springs Camp, New Mexico.

93 Party Chief later wrote, “I was able to clean up my inventory….” 1935.

94 Touristy stuff in the Mojave Desert. Ca. 1920.

95 Cooking breakfast, 1914. Olympic Peninsula, Washington Shave and haircut. Oregon 1916.

96 1934. At last! a Holiday Inn! Maybe the rooms even had showers.

97 A large triangulation crew at the beginning of trailer travel. Benjamin, Texas. 1935.

98 Packing the horses. 1922 Montana. The way it was….

99 Today, NOAA's National Geodetic Survey defines and manages the National Spatial Reference System (NSRS), which provides the foundation for transportation and communication; mapping and charting; and a multitude of scientific and engineering applications.

100 NOAA History Resources

101 NOAA Central Library

102 Help Celebrate the 200 th Anniversary of the Coast Survey 1807-2007

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