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Change In Designation


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The Geocaching.com website includes datasheets frozen in time from about 2000 or 2001.


In the case of station HV3004, a comparison between old and new datasheets indicates a discrepancy in the designation.


The old datasheet calls this station 9 USE. However, the current datasheet calls this station simply 9 (dropping the USE reference to the Army Corps of Engineers).


What's the significance of this change?




(edited to correct typo)

Edited by ArtMan
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ArtMan -


I have a guess.


Both versions of the NGS datasheet have this data element:

HV3004_STAMPING: 9 199


My guess is that the disk does not say "9 USE", and someone noticed that and told the NGS without submitting an actual find log to them. The NGS fixed the designation. The reason the designation doesn't say "9 199" could be that the 199 part is really part of a date and as such is sort of an optional part of the designation (?). Often the Stamping has more stuff than the Designation and the date is one of the things that's often omitted (per my experience).

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I think 199 is the elevation, which is stated as 197.16 on the datasheet but may well have been 199 using another datum when the disk was set and converted to NAD83 at some point. I have seen a number of disks with elevations on them that are close but not quite at the datasheet's elevation and have always attributed it to change in datum(s).


My guess is that the disk is a USE disk, and has "9" above the center and then "199" below the center.


KW1060 296 USGS is an example but the pic I took is awful.


Those more learned in these matters may chime in with details and corrections.




Edited to add poor example

Edited by mloser
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I agree that the "199" part of the stamping refers to the elevation, but I'm not sure that really helps resolve the mystery.


As noted on the datasheet —

 HV3004  HISTORY     - Date     Condition        Report By
HV3004  HISTORY     - UNK      MONUMENTED       DOD

the disk was monumented at an unknown date by "DOD," presumably the Defense Department, and quite possibly the Army Corps of Engineers. I have seen "USE" used frequently to refer to the C of E. That's not a mystery.


The elevation is stamped on the disk. That's not unusual. I've seen it incorporated as part of the station designation, too, (e.g. KV1004), though that seems quite atypical in my experience. No mystery there either.


Although there is usually a relation between disk stamping and the station designation, there doesn't seem to be a rule anywhere that requires it.


I wish I could have gotten close enough to this disk to have taken a useable picture, but it was within a fenced-in area. This appeard to be a standard-sized disk and may have said Corps of Engineers on it, which would justify the USE part of the designation, if justification is needed.


What I remain perplexed about is why the station designation would have changed. And I'm sorry, gents, but I don't see how it has anything to do with the stamping or elevation.


The reason I posted in this forum is that I'm hoping one of our NGS pals can provide some actual facts, as opposed to our idle speculation.



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This is what I got back:


The STAMPING is what is stamped on the mark.


The DESIGNATION is a variant of the STAMPING

which follows Blue Book

Annex D guidelines



Blue Book Annex D paragraph 2. and 3.

considers the YEAR and AGENCY

stamped on the mark to be "extraneous" information

which should not be included as part of the




Someone apparently cleaned up the database

removing the agency USE from the Designation.


USE = U.S Army Corp of Engineers

(Now identified as USACE)

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In Seattle, there is a small Dam and Boat Locks called the Ballard Locks, which was built by the Army Corps of engineers in the early 1900's. it is located at what is considered Salmon bay and forms the headwaters for what is called the ship canal which is what the bay tapers off into as it becomes a cut towards Lake Union. Lake Union also has a cut in the N.E. corner of it which is also a Ship Canal, connecting it to Lake Washington.




The Army Corps regulates the Lake levels of Lakes Union and Washington with the Ballard Locks, and all along this channel, the Army Corps has placed Survey markers which are stamped in a similar fashion as those Art found. Usually a number followed by the designation USE. If you find a USE Station, My guess there is something to do with Hydrology that the Corps is working on (or has) nearby.


The Army Corps still operates the Ballard Locks, 24/7/365. Passage is free of charge as they operate primarily with water and gravity. The only time they have even been closed in their entire history is during 9/11 during the no fly period.



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Thanks for the info, Casey.


So in summary, the designation was changed to conform with Blue Book guidelines.


Just one followup: were non-conforming designations changed en masse, or was this an unusual case where someone noticed a discrepancy and made the change?



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Thanks for the info, Casey.


So in summary, the designation was changed to conform with Blue Book guidelines.


Just one followup: were non-conforming designations changed en masse, or was this an unusual case where someone noticed a discrepancy and made the change?





The best way to know what actually is the case is to write to Cheryl Malone, and ask her to help research and clarify the change, since the station is locked behind a gate. She will have access to the records that show what did happen. It is hard to ascertain what the disc does say as based on the datasheet. Maybe you can ask permission to see the station and clarify to NGS what is what.


As I said earlier in this thread, there are plenty of stations designated USE. I have set over them on more than one occasion.


It is the only way to get all the actual facts on the table. It helps keep the guessers at bay as well. Better to go with what can be actually and empirically known. Not that fast and loose stuff some people resort to.


Good hunting,



Edited by evenfall
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In all my years (30+) of experience I have never found the agency acronym stamped on a survey disk. So it would be rare to find USE stamped on there. Someone would have to stamp that after the fact, meaning why would USE stampe USE on a survey disk that already had thier name on it?


Back in the old days it was common practice to use the agency acronym in the station designations. Since the were marks allready in existance, it was to differentiate other agnecy marks from USC&GS marks in records. Such as; 9 USE, TT 60 C USGS, 26 B MIGS, etc because these used different naming conventions.


Today with computers, every digit takes space and space is always at a premium. the agency is shown on other areas of the datasheet, so its not needed in the designation as it serves no purpose. The poistion is by NGS..

Edited by Z15
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It is easy to do a little research here with the Geocaching search, and you can compare the stations at NGS after you have determined the PID. I looked up a few of the Army Corps Discs I have actually used in the past. The Current NGS Datasheets does still use the Disc Logo in the description on all of them. However as Mike said, I have not seen USE stamped into the disc either. I can say that if the designation said USE that the disc was monumented by the Corps of engineers...


If you would like to look at this a bit deeper, simply go to this page: http://www.geocaching.com/mark/nearest.aspx Type in a space the the letters USE into the "By Designation" Box after selecting it, and then choose most any coastal state. The search engine will bring you several pages of Marks with USE in the designation.


You will see that the Army used naming conventions which were similar to NGS at times... Names and Level Line Designations, You will also see single numbers, and you will also see elevations stamped into these discs which do not concur with either NGVD 29 or NAVD 88 elevations, but they are what the Corps Leveled at the time they did it using whatever they did.


It is important to not that these stations are in the NGS Database as guests. They were not Monumented by NGS or CGS and may not have originally followed their standards. Some may have been submitted to NGS directly by the army, or NGS personnel may have adopted them later.


The USE in the designation has usually always meant that it was an Army Corps Disc. I concur with Mike on that, and a call to an old mentor of mine has his agreement with mike as well. He has never seen USE stamped into the disc either, but he remembers USE as almost always being part of the designation if the disc was an Army Disc, and usually in the vicinity of a project or waterway that the Army Corps of engineers was involved with.


Again after looking at a few in random state across the nation here, I do find myself wondering why the one you are working has changed designations, since so many are as they have always been. This one looks more like a one off case. I would recommend checking into it with Cheryl.


HTH, Rob

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