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Getting To Benchmarks


Airmapper

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I went to my hometown today to look for a benchmark I thought would be easy to find. I was standing off the side of the road, GPS pointed 20 foot straight ahead, Into someones yard. I left that one for later, sometimes there are people around there I could ask for permission. But how do you go about finding benchmarks on public property? There are a lot of old railroad tracks around loaded with markers, I think that is that public land, but could I get into trouble poking around where the tracks used to be. Just would like to hear any thoughts or experiences on finding benchmarks on different types of property. When it comes to finding benchmarks, I'm finding a whole new challenge from fnding caches. Property ownership.

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Take the amount of currently recovered Benchmarks and divide that number by the amount of active Benchmark Hunters. That is how many different ways there are of getting to the mark.

 

Seriously:

 

I never knowingly go on Private Property without owner permission. One case, I had to return to the place three times before locating the owner. It may be a pain, but I have never been denied permission and have always been thanked for my consideration. In some cases, the owner even wants to help find it or point it out.

 

On Public Property like a park or common, I would never get my shovel out and start digging.

 

Alongside roads and abandoned RR's, I just help myself.

 

It helps alot to wear an orange vest and carry NGS data sheets (not just GC.com)on a cliboard. I often leave the data sheets and topo maps with Private owners. They get a real thrill out of seeing their property on a map and the write up that goes along with it.

 

As for looking in cities: I try to look like I know what I am doing and not be suspicious. If someone does ask what you are doing, tell them "I am trying to determine which of these buildings are going to have to come down during next years road widening project."

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If someone does ask what you are doing, tell them "I am trying to determine which of these buildings are going to have to come down during next years road widening project."

If someone asks me I get all round-eyed and mutter "Gold doubloons! I found an old treasure map and it's hidden here!" :blink:

 

Or, at least that's what I plan on saying!

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There have been some other threads on here about this subject but they are spread over quite a stretch of time.

 

First of all, DON'T trust your GPSr explicitely, unless you are looking at a datasheet that says the station is adjusted horizontally. If it is listed as "scaled" that means the coordinates were created from a topo map. Word is they can be up to 600 feet from the actual location. So use your GPSr to get you NEAR the location and then use the description to find the actual mark. I wouldn't be surprised if that one you thought was in a yard was somewhere else.

 

As for personal property, the opinion of "trespass" is up to each individual. I won't go onto someone's property without permission. This has led to some interesting interactions, but I have yet to be turned down. At KW3100 I asked permission at one house, and the guy told me to go to the next house. That person said the mark was out towards the first person's property but definitely on his (the second guy's) land. I could tell that there was no love lost between the two of them, despite being the only two people living on the top of this hill. I went looking and came face to face with the first guy who was pretty adamant about wanting to know what I was doing. Only after I explained carefully what I wanted did he show me the mark. He said people had tried to dig out the mark, and he calmed down when I said I just wanted pictures, and explained what the marks were for. Having my 15 year old son along may have made the difference between being allowed to find the mark and being chased off by a pit bull or shot at (the first person had a mean pit bull and the second person had a row of guns beside the door, with ammo handy!). That was as close a call as I ever wish to have!

At most places I am met with a "sure, go help yourself", and have even had the owner help me look, to the point fo digging in their own yard for me.

 

Railroad property... hmmm, you will get some strong opinions here. I have recovered a lot of marks along railroads but I will caution you... if it is a major railroad you CAN and WILL get arrested if caught. Railroad cops make town police look like pussycats and will nab you in a second. The greatest fear railroads face is bad publicity and lawsuits from idiots who get hit by trains. It is always "Train hits Woman at Crossing", never "Foolish Women Tries to Beat Train and Buys the Farm" when it hits the paper. So the railroads are very adamant about keeping everyone off their property. I have been a railfan all my life, understand how the railroads work and how trains run, and STILL have been surprised by trains when I was near the tracks. Luckily I never ever take anything for granted when on railroad property and expect the unexpected, so while I have been surprised by the quick and quiet approach of a train, I have never been in a position of danger due to it. One thing I always do when on an active railroad is have an escape route, both for trains and for cops. When a train comes along I never stand by the tracks and wave. I make sure I am hidden from view or off railroad property. Trains all have radios and a lot of the crews will call you in to the dispatcher, who will immediately send the police to visit you.

 

When it comes to "old" railbeds the danger from both trains and police is much lower, but make sure the tracks are unused. Just because they are rusty doesn't mean a train won't come by just as you are standing on them. In fact, Murphy's law dictates that the chances are greatly increased that such an action will occur when you least expect it. Again, I can easily tell if the tracks have been used last week or last year, but that doesn't mean I will blindly walk up the center of the tracks. I stay where I am safe. Almost all of the "railroad" marks in my area are either on really really busy tracks or totally abandoned tracks so I rarely have the problem of semi-abandoned railroads.

 

For marks along roads be aware that most of them are on the road right of way. This means they are on public property. You can behave as you wish, but my choice is to get permission if the property is well cared for and obviously viewed as private. If it is along farm property I am much more likely to just grab it without checking with the owner.

 

Good luck hunting, and remember to stay safe!

 

Matt

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My thoughts on recovering marks on private property.

 

Do your homework. Find out as much HISTORY of the property in question by visiting the local library and courthouse. Generally, in the historical section of the library, there's a librarian who is intimately familiar with local history. They are an invaluable resource. Research the deeds for previous property owner and find out if there are any descendants still living who might offer tidbits of local interest. They may know where the benchmark lies.

 

This shows the property owner that you are serious about making a recovery.

 

Be sure to offer your research to the property owner in appreciation for allowing you access to his or her property.

 

- Mitch -

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A lot of good stories and advice. probably wont have moch trouble with my local RR's, there are not even tracks on most of them. I've done my fair share of "Deed Reasearch" at the local courthouse over a land dispute. (Someone messed with MY families property) I hate to say it but I know more about deeds, surveys, and plots than most guys my age.

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Pretty much what mloser and Spoo said, above.

 

When a mark is described as being on private residential property (as are the majority of rods in logo caps is rural Maryland), I'll drive by to take a look. If it's close to the road I may stop and take a look for it. But if the described location is too close to the residence or in a landscaped area, I'll just drive on by. I usually have a long list of tageted benchmarks, and I'm not inclined to spend any time knocking on doors to get yet another rod (least interesting form of benchmark, in my opinion).

 

From time to time, I've knocked on doors in pursuit of more interesting marks. Success rate = 100 percent.

 

Railroad? I generally avoid them unless the mark is described as being near a road crossing (making the mark accessible and providing me with a good escape route). Recently, I climbed up on a railroad overpass over a major road in an urban setting in Salisbury, MD. There were three marks up there (thus impoving the risk-reward ratio dramatically). I recovered all three. While I was up there in my orange vest, a couple of guys came by on a small, diesel-powered, flatbed kind of railroad thing. They throttled-back when they spotted me, but went on their way when I gave them a quick thumbs-up and turned my attention back to the mark I was photographing.

 

Other situations? I'll do what I can get away with and without placing myself in too great a peril. I'll pass on many marks along narrow, shoulder-less rural roads, for example.

 

Will

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RR'S,I have had both type situations,locally there is no problem,out of the area I have been nabbed by the BULLS,they do not play around as posted.

 

I have only been denied one private property benchmark,I am goping to try one more time on it.

 

Out of the 50+ others on private property,I just asked the land owner you will find that most are as encouraged as you are when you explain that they have a "special" mark on their property that needs to be protected.

 

I have met some really neat people and still have great friendships with a few of them,

some have even become geocacher/benchmarkers.

 

I guess it helps I am not shy at all.

I just go for it.

You have a 50-50 chance.

Yes and no.

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This morning, I left the house before dawn so I could drive an hour and a half to a private campground before the director left for the day. I'd called the evening before to get permission and to make certain the gate would be unlocked.

 

Arrived at 8:15 AM and had a great visit, as well as a successful finding of FY4459, which the property owners did not know was there, prior to my visit.

 

Would I have entered this property without permission? Never!

 

(While in the area, I also logged finds on several other marks, including one from 1935 and one from 1918. All were in public places.)

 

-Paul-

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Like seventhings, I mostly take a pass on private property, although if it's near enough the road to be considered possible right-of-way, I'll usually give it a shot.

 

One recent memorable exception: on a rural road in Charles Co., Maryland (I think; can't put my finger on it right now), a rather elderly gentleman was on his riding mower. The mark in question was very near the road and in plain view from the street, and had he not been out there I probably would have snapped a quick photo or two and let it go at that. But I'm glad he was there. Turns out he was in the Army Maps Corps during WWII and regaled me with tales of his work in the Pacific! So you never know what you'll get...

 

-ArtMan-

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Thanks again for more good posts.

I'm planning on some airport Benchmarks. I probably don't need permission, but I'll tell the airport manager what I'm doing to avoid the, "Why were you out walking down the runway, did you forget you needed to go get the plane first to fly?" he will tell me when I get back.

 

I found a benchmark on a Kentucky WMA in my area and it looked like a great hunt. It was .7 miles from the nearest road, no visible trails to it, ant it was on top of a 100 foot hill. The problem, you need to pay $12.50 to use the land. Land bought with hunting and fishing lisenses. Lisenses I have been buying for years. Oh well, maybe I'll fork it over. Another mark you can't get to cause of property issues.

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In the big scheme of things and with few exceptions, (regionally speaking) even surveyors must obtain permission to enter private property.

 

It is simply good form to ask in advance and never argue if you don't like the answer. Simply ask and accept the answer is what we have to do. When you think about it, you would want your private property respected as well.

 

Hope that helps,

 

Rob

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I'm planning on some airport Benchmarks. I probably don't need permission

I guess you have different kinds of airports where you are.

 

Here in the D.C. area, I have assumed that even small, general aviation airports are off limits, and I've never sought access. (I'm obviously not going to even think about access to IAD or DCA.)

 

In any event, I would certainly ask permission, whether it's a private facility or run by a municipality or other public entity. Particularly in these days....

 

-ArtMan-

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No, I woulden't trasspass, I mean't at my airport I probably wouldn't need permission. I would ask permission at any airport, and am going to at my airport. The Airport manager is my flight instructor, and I think he won't even bat an eye at me wanting to look for benchmarks.

And as far as having different airorts we do, I think any benchmarker would be allowed to look, they may keep an eye on you, or send someone with you, but you should be allowed.

 

Rob, I know what you mean, we had surveyors traspass on our property. They left stakes and ribbins all over our land and never notified us that they needed access to our property to work. And they acted like jerks when we called them on it. I know it really makes me mad when people try to use your property without permission.

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Rob wrote:

It is simply good form to ask in advance and never argue if you don't like the answer.

 

Agreed. Although, when I receive a negative answer, I use this follow-up question:

 

"I know you get these requests from time to time. How have you handled them in the past?"

 

It usually results in a positive response. I guess folks don't like to give the impression they have not had an experience, before. [grin]

 

-Paul-

 

My wife was working for a large surveyor office in central North Carolina. A crew came in from a job with more than the usual "wear and tear" about them. "What happened to you guys?" she asked.

 

"We were flagging the property next to the Ostrich farm at Olive Chapel," the crew explained. "First, we got chased by the ostrich. Then we were chased by bird's owner!"

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No, I woulden't trasspass, I mean't at my airport I probably wouldn't need permission. I would ask permission at any airport, and am going to at my airport. The Airport manager is my flight instructor, and I think he won't even bat an eye at me wanting to look for benchmarks.

And as far as having different airorts we do, I think any benchmarker would be allowed to look, they may keep an eye on you, or send someone with you, but you should be allowed.

 

Rob, I know what you mean, we had surveyors traspass on our property. They left stakes and ribbins all over our land and never notified us that they needed access to our property to work. And they acted like jerks when we called them on it. I know it really makes me mad when people try to use your property without permission.

Due to heightened securities at the Nation's airports, most marks found within them would likely be off limits for most recreational benchmark hunters, unless they had some sort of clearance or connection to get onto the field. The few airport marks I've been able to grab which were in the airfield - one on a ramp, another between the taxiway and a runway, to recall a few - were located when I was on site during a project with special clearance as a project surveyor. Most of my other airport mark finds were found as a recreational hunter. While they were designated as airport marks, they were located outside the airfield proper and accessible to the public, but they were still well within the jurisdiction of any local or airport police who might think of my activities as suspicious. However, for any hunter looking for a mark, they could ask the airport manager for access, and they may be allowed in. It doesn't hurt to ask.

 

As to the trespassing surveyors: At times, as surveyors, we are required to go onto adjacent properties to locate the boundaries of the property we're working on. There is a section in the California Business and Professions Code called the 'Right of Entry' which allows surveyors that right, under certain circumstances. This code was included into the California Penal Code at the first of the year, and most State and local juridictions have a similar code or law on the books. It is a practice of good courtesy that any surveyor notify any property owner before entering a property. If I know in advance that I will need access to a neighboring property, I will have my client tell their neighbors what I'll be doing and when. In most cases, however, I don't know if I'll need access until I'm there, at which point, I just go knock on the door. Most property owners don't mind (many like to come watch and a few have offered to help) provided I don't go crazy with the flagging and paint. Now, I'm not condoning the actions of the surveyors that visited your property - either while they were there, or later when you spoke to them (that's just poor professional courtesy or poor upbringing) - I'm only suggesting a possibility for what happened. While they may have had the right to be there, you also have the right to know what's happening on your property.

 

- Kewaneh

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Yes, as property owners, we wanted to know what was happening on our property. The survey company in question is probably a singular case of unprofessionalism. They left stakes in our field, in a line, and we had no idea why or who put them there. I believe in my state it is required the surveyors notify all adjacent property owners that they may need access to the land. This company did not, and they were all over our field, I found ATV tracks and places where they bushwacked. Later the company tried to tell us they "gave" us some land, we know our lines, they were not changed and we would have contested it because a surveyer should never alter a deed. We didn't have problems whith them using the land for thier work, what we didn't like was them trying to cover thier tracks.

 

Okay, I'll get back on topic. Anyone had any interesting experiences while attempting to get permission to hunt a Benchmark.

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Just recently, I went to look for a BM on a near by Mountain top. The original NGS directions were easy to follow and I ended up in front of a very remote farm house, at least a mile from any other dwelling. I walked up the driveway to ask permission to cross the property. A woman came out and asked if she could help me.

 

I explained that I was looking for some survey Benchmarks .......and she stopped me there and told me I could not cross her property.

 

To make a long story short, she eventually understood who I was and what I was doing and allowed me access. She thought I was a surveyor for a near-by housing project going in......

 

It seems she had just gone through a nasty divorce and her husband got about 400 acres of land. He was now building a housing project (20 or so places) all abutting her land. She of course, was trying to make things as difficult as she could for the myriad of contractors involved. I guess I don't blame her.

Edited by Spoo
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I would have to say I agree with most all of the post here. I wouldn't trespass on Private Property. The area I live in some would shoot then asked questions later. Its always better, and mush more safe to ask prior to accessing the private land.

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I wouldnt trespass... But, I've had a couple marks I've pursued that were obviously on someone's property.

 

I have on a couple occasions, knocked on the front door and asked for permission to hunt. So far, I've always met with agreeable persons.

 

In one case, the landowner pointed me to a mark that wasnt in the GC or NGS databases, but didnt know about the one that was. I eventually recovered both marks, and showed the landowner the previously unknown one.

 

On another occasion, the owner joined me in a search. Unfortunately, neither of us found the mark. We found the witness post, which the descriptions put at 20+ feet from the station. Due to a 138,000 volt transmission line overhead, I didnt feel that my metal detector would be of much use with so much electro-magnetic interference from above. Im betting the mark is likely still there, just under dirt and cow-pies. :rolleyes:

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