Jump to content

I Need The Secret Surveyor Code!

Followers 0

Recommended Posts

Some of these location descriptions really baffle me. :huh: I'm looking at NB0926. The rail line is long gone, and it's only obvious looking at the aerial photos. But, even if the scene were just as it was in 1934, I don't have a clue how the marker can be 54 feet from the center of the crossing, yet still be within 11 feet of the center of the tracks. The angles and compass directions don't appear to allow it. Is there some assumption of perpendicularity or parallelism that's never mentioned (or lack of such)? Can anybody give me a short list of rules concerning compass points, road directions, and any terms that have meanings different from ordinary usage? Or, do you think the directions are wrong- did somebody get their compass points mixed up? ;)

Link to comment

As to rules, I generally figure that the typical level of compass accuracy used in making to-reach descriptions can be in the good-to-lousy range. My declination around here is only 10 degrees so that's no excuse. It's really odd to me that some of the people (surveyors?) who have written to-reach descriptions seem to insist on considering only a 4-point compass to express directions. (Venting here.) I will often use 16-point compass terminology. Maybe that's some kind of big mistake, I don't know.

Edited by Black Dog Trackers
Link to comment

you are ignoring the direction.


Go 54 ft east of the crossing, then 11 ft north of the rr.


The crossing is the intersection of road and tracks. Measurements are always assumed from centerline (C/L) unless otherwise stated. In this case, C/L of road at C/L of RR as it was when first described, may be different today..







I went into a lot of detail, I was not intending to insult anyone's intelligence.

Edited by Z15
Link to comment

Z15 -


I click on the NB0926 Geocaching datasheet, then click on the map that appears on that datasheet, then zoom the map in all the way and I see a situation that looks nothing like your drawing unless you turn the highway and RR in your drawing about 120 degrees clockwise. The highway and the RR are only about 15 degrees apart with the RR going NNE and the highway going NE.

Link to comment

I still lean with my first post of 54 feet eastbound (along the highway) out of the intersection, then 11 feet N of the tracks, which puts it NW of the intersection. I didn't look at the topo map, but it vaguely confirms that.


That could translate to: 54 feet NE of the center of the intersection (eastbound along the highway), and then 11 feet NW (perpendicular to) of the tracks. Hey, that makes the original instructions only 90 degrees off, fairly typical, I'd say! ;)

Edited by Black Dog Trackers
Link to comment

While that sketch doesn't look like the map, I think it still tells you approximately where to look.


I'd draw the 54 ft line along the tracks, not out in the open. When those 1930's crews were following a RR, they thought of directions according to the general trend of the rail line, and not by compass at each site. So I would say the 54 ft east means from the road crossing, in the direction along the railroad that is closest to east. That applies regardless of which way the road runs. Only the crossing counts. Then if the RR is assumed to run east, the 11 ft north means perpendicular to the tracks regardless of the compass.


I've even seen them 45 degrees off in their directions because the RR at that point happened to be going N and the general trend was NE. So at the intersection with an east-west road the description might say NE of the road and SE of the RR, when the compass directions are really N and E.


I haven't been in the habit of checking the topo depictions of benchmark locations to see how well that correlates to the descriptions and actual locations. Maybe I'm missing a clue there if you others have found it to be helpful. But I don't see how the topo can have any better information than the description--wasn't that how it was plotted on the map to begin with?

Edited by Bill93
Link to comment

Well, I'm glad to see differing opinions on this one, confirming I'm not as dumb as a marker post. Interesting question was brought up. Let's say a road or rail is, in general, heading east. But, at the particular location in question, it has to make a ninety degree turn to go around some obstacle. Did they really go by the general direction in writing the description, or did they use the "local" compass heading.


As for the road and rail in question, your various answers do make it clearer. My thinking for this second (it could change rapidly) is one is to go 54 feet eastbound on the road, then draw a line perpendicular to the road, up through the track. 11 feet from the center of the track, on that same line, on the far side of the tracks(north), should lie the mark.


Does that make sense, or is another scenario as likely?

Link to comment

I tend to agree with Bill93 on this, since he is the rail road man, so go with his knowledge on the particulars.


You also have to consider that the mark is 'scaled', so therefore you have to go by the description almost totally. The Coords will just get you in the general area...or at least that is what we have found to be the case.


Has anyone looked at the "box score" on the NGS datasheet? I know some have used that to help narrow down the placement, if it applies to this mark.



Link to comment

When you read these old descriptions of BM's and even old Property Deeds you need to keep things general. If you have a railroad track that is running anywhere between N45ºE and S45ºE it is considered to be running eastwardly. Therefore any description that reads north of the track, means that if you are traveling in an eastwardly direction, then the BM is on the left side of the tract at a perpendicular direction , not due north of the track. I just love people that want me to run a deed line for them and it says. Beginning at a stone in the road and running in a northwardly direction to the top of the ridge. Hard to load that angle into a surveying instrument.

Reading the description of the BM noted above. I would start at the intersection of the road and railroad bed, head east down the rr bed 54', stick my left hand out and walk 11' in that direction and start searching.

What I'm trying to say is, don't take these directions literaly, and by all means remember, those folks that wrote these descriptions are human and can make mistakes.

Link to comment

Ok, I've plotted it on an aerial (I never could spell that right on the first try) photo and it all starts to make sense. I don't have a lot of hope for this one, as the location of the rr bed is all but obliterated, and the description puts the mark right in a semi-cleared area that looks like it's now a power line or utility access path that's seen a lot of heavy equipment traffic. Not sure when I can run out there and search, as work calls and we're expecting snow over the next few days. Not to mention it's hunting season now. But, the pull is strong, and the flesh is weak.


I said it before and I'll say it again- You guys are GREAT!



Link to comment

I have never seen a mark along a railroad that took train direction into account. Surveyors had no idea how the railroads ran their traffic and should not have. If a railroad ran north/south but the railroad considered the trains to be east/west, it would be foolish to describe the mark location in any but purely compass terms. To do otherwise would presume knowledge that was not commonplace, even in an era when trains were more a part of everyday life than today. The measurement is from the center of the track, not the center of the direction the tracks are mostly heading.


mogle1, I disagree that you need to keep things general. In fact, you have to keep them specific. If a mark states that it is 15 feet north of a telephone pole, you can bet it is NORTH of the pole, not NNE, or NNW. If it was either of those directions they would have been stated. More likely, the mark would not have been set at that location. An attempt would have been made to set the mark NORTH of the pole, or NW if that was not possible, etc. There is some slop here, of course, but the directions are not mean to introduce any generality into the recovery. They are meant to describe exactly where the mark is so that future surveyors can find it as easily and quickly as possible. One good reference is the NOAA Manual NOS NGS 1, regarding geodetic bench marks. It gives strict guidelines about reference objects and describing them.


Chances are very good that the mark in question was specifically put at that location so that is was a 90 degree compass direction from the two landmarks. I strongly suspect that the directions got missed up, either in the field or in the transcription.


As for marks being where they are indicated on a topo map, I have never had one totally off (e.g. on the wrong side of a road). If the X is to the northwest of the intersection of the track and road, I would give a 99.9 percent chance that it was there. Of course, exactly WHERE is what the description is for. The topo doesn't have better information, but it does indicate where the mark is visually, within the accuracy of the map. The mark was scaled from the map, not the reverse--it is the scaling that produces the innacuracy. Just from my experience, I would guess that the X on the map is within 10-15 feet of the actual mark. I have used the topo with the superimposed coords on top to help me guess how far and what direction to head once my GPSr shows me at the mark. It can be very helpful on those marks that have no real references, or where the references are gone.


Of course, with the tracks gone and what appears to be a cleared area to the northwest of the now gone intersection, there is a good chance the mark is gone.

Link to comment

On reading the description once again, I see that it starts by saying the mark is 1 mile West of Rushville. In fact, it is about 1 mile SW of Rushville. It would seem that whoever was writing the to-reach was thinking of the railroad as running E-W.


The instructions don't mention using the road, only the intersection and the railroad (RR).


The instructions speak of going East. In fact, the direction of the RR toward Rushville is NE.


If ignoring the road, one would measure a railroad marker (and this is one) in a direction along the RR, and then at right angles to it. So, the directions should read, in my opinion:


54 feet NE along the RR and then 11 feet NW of the RR.


Shall we place bets? :D

Link to comment

Well most Stations which were monumented along Railroad right of ways were Bench Marks, not Tri Stations, so since this is vertical control, no Box Scores for us.


Typically Most of us in the Survey field will mean that if something is located 11 feet from the centerline of a Railroad Track, We mean that you should measure from the place we describe at a right angle from the directions the rails lie.


Typically we think of a Railroad crossing as a place where the road crosses the rails, not where the rails cross the road. We are referencing the road when we refer to a crossing and the right angle to the road is again implied.


If enough of the original location is intact at all, and if you are not too persnickety about the compass headings, the narrative seems to imply that the station will lie in a northeast quadrant of this intersection.


That said, it was monumented in 1934, last seen in 1942 (By NGS?!?!, Hmmm...) and on grade with the centerline of the tracks. Ok so centerline of track will get you to 11 feet. Keep in mind than on grade with track centerline at 11 feet really means only 7 feet from the edge of the Railroad ties, 0.4 feet is 2 hundredths of a foot less than 5 inches above the ground, and this combination is well within the reach of a Jordan Spreader... Buried or uprooted, you decide.


Good Luck,



Link to comment

I've been reviewing a few found marks along railroads, and I don't find much consistency in how the descriptions used the directions.


When they say explicitly from the crossing, they do seem more often to be measuring on the track and then perpendicular to it. At other times the crossing is just a general thing and they seem to be actually measuring in the direction stated from the track and road.


LE0261 gives a distance NE of an east-west road, which checked out as being along the track, as close as we estimated the perpendicular. This left a big impression on me because it was one of my early finds.


NJ0414 says SE of a north-south road and SW of the track.


MG0495 (1941) says NE from track and W from road, all compass directions.


NJ0522 (1934) likewise says NE from track and S from road, compass directions.


NJ0581 gives North and West directions on a bridge where the track is NW-SE. Makes no sense.


For NB0926 I'm still betting on the interpretation I posted earlier and echoed by BDT.

Link to comment


I ddn't mean to say that we should keep things general if we are trying to describe the location of a found monument. Only when we are trying to follow an existing description. I prepare deed descriptions as part of my work and I will literally paint a picture of the property.

Not sure where you got the idea that I was taking train direction into account. What I was trying to say was. If you were standing at the crossing and started walking in an easterly direction with the centerline of the tracts for 54' then the monument would have been on the north side of the tract 11' perpendicular to it.


Sometimes I know what I am saying but my fingers won't cooperate.

Link to comment

It seems the name of the game here is to reduce variables and narrow the search area as much as possible. In this case, I don't really know where the crossing was, and could do a lot of wandering around. But, something I do know is the angle of the road to the tracks. This is reasonably clear from the aerial photo, and measures 24.3 degrees. Now it's just simple trig, but being too lazy for even that, I drew it out in CAD. If you go 54' out on a 24.3 degree angle, then go 11' perpendicular to that line, then drop a line perpendicular to the road, you end up 32.2' from the road. In theory, all I have to do is walk a line 32.2' from the center of the road, and I'll either trip over the thing, or the metal detector will go off. Or there'll be nothing there. Does that make sense, or am I missing something?



Link to comment



I understand what you mean. To find a mark you have to be a generalist, and try to figure out what the surveyor saw and measured. I always start specific, if the landmarks allow me to, and then get more and more general, trying to figure out what used to exist.


Only the first paragraph was a response to you. The rest of my long ramble was musings about other comments made by others, and just some random stuff. In the end I think this will remain a mystery because I am betting the mark is gone. But we can hope Photobuff finds it.


Again, I politely disagree with the interpretations by BDT and Bill93, as well as Photobuff's diagram. I have never seen a description that read like a treasure hunt--take 10 steps to the apple tree and turn right, then 4 more steps. Descriptions are all redundant--each one tells you where the mark is, in the absence or existence of the other descriptions. Granted, a measurement from one reference point doesn't make a mark easy to find, but it is possible.


Evenfall makes a very valid point in mentioning that measurements are perpendicular to the railline or road, and is something I had discovered but not really processed mentally, even though I have been subconsciously doing it for quite a while. If you see a measurement that says 15 feet north of the centerline of the tracks, you can be pretty sure it means perpendicular to the tracks, even if north is 20 degrees or so off. That is something I generally count on.


I will be the first to admit I could be totally wrong on this. My thinking of 50 feet north of the intersection is pretty much just a guess based on the maps and photos I have looked at. Since nothing seems to really tie out well, my first look would be at the magic X on the topo map, making the description directions fit.


I stand firmly on my X!


Go get 'em Photobuff. Find that mark and put this to rest.

Link to comment

Since I never looked at any maps etc and assumed the directions were absolute.



So, tape East 54 ft along the grade from c/l of x-ing and go left 11 ft and find the mark. Note-Railbeds are commonly upgraded and the mark could very well be buried several feet. I(we) have found several like this. We leveled into a mark back in the 70's and discovered it was buried about 2 ft. There was no idication the grade was lifted. btw-Hit the elevatiosn within mm's. I can think of 4 that we found buried along RR's and many more we never found that I suspect might still be there if we could have found one reference to go by.


East does not always mean East exactly by the Compass but East along the RR from along the RR from the road x-ing. (Like odd numbered hwy's go North-South and even, East-West, if you are heading from Michigan to Flordia (I wish) you are going south no matter if you are really going SE by the compass.) Back in the days this mark was set, they likely used the sun for directions. Some of these old descriptions can be vague. Like most jobs, some take pride in doing it correct and others just want to get it done no matter how correct it is. We have all worked with people like that, I am sure.

Edited by Z15
Link to comment
am I missing something?




You are over thinking this. There is little to be gained by being overly specific when the monumenters were vague in the first place. It really is hard to get something from nothing. I think we can agree that we have seen a lot of time go by and the changes may have lost this station.


From the crossing, Just walk 53 feet in the most easterly direction. You could try using both the Centerline Of Road and the Edge Of Pavement to help define your area.


Once you are there look in the northerly direction, and define a 10x10 search area right there and look. If it isn't there, It isn't there. It happens to Scaled Benchmarks and such, a lot.


Good Luck.



Edited by evenfall
Link to comment
Z15 and I are saying the same thing.


If the mark is 11 feet North from the tracks, one cannot go either:

54 feet East-ish along the road

54 feet Directly East

and be anything but South of the tracks.


Instead, one must go East-ish (approx. NE by the map) along the RR tracks.

Then 11 feet perpendicular (apprxox. NW by the map) away from the RR tracks.

I too would agree with this evaluation.

Link to comment

That appears correct- you must follow the tracks for 54', otherwise the description is impossible to reconcile. Note that the first part of the description talks about "a mile west along.... the railroad"- it seems they didn't take the highway. In fact, that's why I was so confused as to start this thread, as I was somehow convinced that one had to follow the road.


A little while ago I went back out there and tried my theory using the metal detector. Found track plates, pipe, and beer cans, but no mark. Though it may be gone, a couple possibilities remain. There is some thick growth it could be in, and the grass in the field is pretty thick. If the mark were buried very far, I'd never pick it up. I'm less hopeful, but success relies on D.P. (dogged persistence) :)

Link to comment



Start where the highway centerline crosses the old RR centerline and head east towards Rushville along the tracks. At 54 feet go left 11 feet (most likely from the "Left" rail).


Since the railroad runs west from Rushville you just head towards Rushville which would be the equivalent of East.



Link to comment

John- I agree (now that everybody helped me figure it out), but I don't know if you caught the fact that the rail line has been removed with nary a trace, and the road has been redone. Locating the former crossing point is futile, thus my exercise with the drawing to give me a line parallel to the road to work from. Didn't help though :)

Link to comment
John- I agree (now that everybody helped me figure it out), but I don't know if you caught the fact that the rail line has been removed with nary a trace, and the road has been redone. Locating the former crossing point is futile, thus my exercise with the drawing to give me a line parallel to the road to work from. Didn't help though  :)




With a praticed eye you will learn to see what is not there as well as what is there.


No Joke - You need to learn to see what is missing in an area and determine why it should be there. Is there a treeline in the area (actually 2 treelines), does the vegetation change from one type to another and then back to the first type? Is the vegetation consistantly shorter along 1 direction? Is there any ballast left on the ground. They use a crushed rock that is the same all along a stretch of tracks. Follow the remaining ballast heading east.


I would start with a topo map that shows the old RR and get a set of starting coordinates and then go look for what is different about the area. Check the old RR Station and see if there is some ballast left in that area, it should be similar to the area of the benchmark.


Look at how even the ground is in the area. Look for a slight raised area that would probably be the railbed.


You might check in the town where the Station was and see if there are any retired RR workers still there and willing to share their knowledge.


As a last resort, if you can climb a tree near where you think the old RR is, it might be easier to "see" the old Railbed.


The clues are there, it just takes practice to recognize what you are seeing.


Good luck,


John & Shirley

Link to comment

The historic quad might be interesting:


Current Quad BM location


Historic Quad SW corner of it


Since I see BM's along the RR, I would suspect it was along the railroad parallel and perpendicular.


Alternative explanation is along the highway.


Very remote possibility would have been cardinal directions.


Again level lines would have been run along railroads or highways and BM's established within the ROW's for them.


The mark on the quad is about dead on for the intersect, if it 'appears' to be NW of the intersect, that is well within the 6 second scaling error. The symbols were probably plotted using the reported coordinates and so that is not definative.


If the RR is torn out to the north as it appears from the photography there is some chance the mark was destroyed depending on what it looks like on the ground.


- jlw

Link to comment

The weather is rapidly becoming unsuitable for this, but I may get one more try in the next few days. Measuring from the intersection is near impossible, both because there's no easy way to locate the exact spot, and this is a fairly busy truck route. What I did do was put more dimensions on my drawing, realizing that I can see the track bed pretty well. If I find the spot where the center of the track bed is correct to the road center-line, the mark will be an exact number of feet beyond that, all measurements perpendicular to the road, accessible, and easy. In spite of my recent successes with the metal detector, in areas with a lot of debris, or where the marker might be fairly deep, a probe rod seems better. I'll try that in this case. Including this one, I'm working on three sites right now that all seem to require many return trips, and if the marks are still there, they may be buried quite deeply. I don't always get things clearly figured out the first time, and the best search method varies. It's often easier to make a logical "can't fail" plan, than it is to carry it out- especially if the weather turns bad. The last trip I made, I had to stop because the sleet was making too much noise when it hit the headphones, and I was getting cold in the 25 mph wind!

Link to comment

When I go to measure the centerline of a street, I spike my tape a few feet from the edge of the street, then wait until traffic clears, then walk quickly walk to the center, reeling out the tape. When I get to the center, I quickly take a reading, then return to my spike. I then use the same zero point and walk the other direction, adding to the first measure.


Keeps me from getting run over, which I see as beneficial.

Link to comment

Well sometimes I have found you get lost in the details.


It helps greatly to have a metal detector.

The distances are close enough to start a radial search with the detector.


As with the numerous one's like this exact one you mention.

I have found most of the marks gone.

The equiptment used in removing the old tracks were huge and often destroyed the area.


A point to make..most RR stations have a BM set in them,or had a mark at them for measuring the mile posts for the railroad,most mile posts are still in existance at the same or near the same points.

A little white sign,here,that gives the mile station.

Some of the original RR mile markers are what I have gone by and they are listed in the descriptions.


And as stated the description, says west but the direction is Southwesterly,or Northeasterly depending on which way you look at it.


Most of this comes with time and experience(s) in the field,you learn the secret decodes.Mainly just observations of known situations.

Link to comment

Geo (et al)


Track removal uses large equipment but it normally remains on the existing rails as they are removed or on the roadbed. There is not a lot of destruction in most cases. What happens to the railbed AFTER the tracks are removed is another story. They are sometimes made into trails or rights of way for power lines. Reuse for a trail will most likely leave marks alone unless bridges are rebuilt or covered to make railings, or as in our area, parking areas are created at intersections and the marks destroyed in that process.


The aerial photos of our questionable area show evidence of a lot of activity, but I wouldn't give up. If the mark is in the swampy area to the southeast it has a better chance of remaining. If it is to the northeast it looks like that area has the most changes so the mark may not remain.


All you can do is try to read the clues you have and estimate what you must. Finding the centerline of the tracks and street is usually doable--if the street has not been totally redone there may be a repaved area, or a slight hump where the tracks crossed. Often you can stand at the side of the road and sight down the old roadbed. Even where major changes have occurred there will be rows of trees or growth that indicate the edges of the roadbed and you can sight the center of that.


In my area few stations are left, and even if they were or had mile markers left it would be impossible to measure from the station to the mark in question. Plus, that measurement is merely a direction to get to the mark area before using the references to find it. In this case we already know the intersection, so knowing that the mark is x miles from a milepost or station will help little with finding the mark as you are at the level of accuracy of that "get to" measurement.


You are totally right about experience in the field being the key though! That knowledge can often be regional though. You mention mile markers. Here we have no fractional mile markers left, and only the major ones (on the mile). However, the railroads have changed hands so the markers have changed in some cases.


A couple of things I have discovered that help me a lot: Along railroads the marks are set either at intersections, or when along the right of way, they are set opposite or at a telephone/telegraph pole. This means RIGHT AT the pole, between it and the tracks. Usually.

On roads, the mark will be at an intersection, again, or if along a stretch of road, at the high point, a low point, or a curve. This gives some natural landmark to help locate it. Marks set in the late 70s to date are usually close to a telephone pole, to provide a close reference. These are all things that may be the same or different in other areas, but can be very helpful in my area to get to a mark. I am sure others have some search rules they live by too.

Link to comment

Well, I'm putting this one on the back burner for a while. Today it was above freezing, with little snow, so I went back there armed with a good tape, probe rod, metal detector, and my CAD drawings. I'm pretty confident that I've narrowed the search area to just a few square feet. This, assuming they didn't move the road or something- I think the center-line is still the same. Several different ways of locating the search area all pointed to the same area. No hits on the metal detector, other than old rail parts- track plates and the like. Nothing useful from the probe rod, as the area is peppered with small, medium, and large rocks. I was hoping the final location would be far away from the cleared area where they put in a large gas line, but it's right where there would have been a lot of heavy truck traffic. I could still be off- I may try again in spring when the ground is wet and soft, but my guess is this one was a victim of the gas company :-(

Link to comment

mloser wrote:

Finding the centerline of the tracks and street is usually doable--if the street has not been totally redone there may be a repaved area, or a slight hump where the tracks crossed. Often you can stand at the side of the road and sight down the old roadbed. Even where major changes have occurred there will be rows of trees or growth that indicate the edges of the roadbed and you can sight the center of that.


I agree. A line of "younger" trees is a helpful clue!


Here is my log from FY0035, which was a similar railroad situation. In the past, I've typically blamed the track removal process for destroying marks. [see log, below.] However, MLOSER has given new info which I'll consider; specifically, that the mark may have been destroyed after the tracks were removed.


In the case of FY0035, I cruised up and down the street several times, looking for clues. (Some days, I'm not at the Top of my Game--grin.) By the way, the tracks remain beneath the street pavement, as evidenced from metal detector readings. Here's my log:


I had to do some detective work to find the old railway crossing. However, the tip-off was the supports for the former warning devices. Then everything fell into place--except I could not find the mark. This is common along abandoned railroads. When they remove the tracks, the equipment destroyes the monuments--which typically project above ground and are easy targets. There is a photo of the old RR station on the grounds of the Courthouse. My NGS report:






Old Railway Line, Boydton, Virginia

Link to comment

Hard to believe anybody's still following this sorry saga, but here are a couple photos from the last trip. In the first, we're looking down what I'm pretty confident is the track bed to the NE. My red handled spade is in the middle, and if you use your imagination, combined with some thermal and vegetation magic, you can see where the tracks might have been. Or maybe a truck?




In the next, I've backed up into the road so you can see the trackbed above, with lines showing where the mark might be. I actually did it two ways, following the instructions from the intersection, and working out the distance perpendicular to the road from the crossing angle on the aerial photo.




The only error I think I made was not searching on a line parallel to the tracks, instead of parallel to the road, so that will be my next attempt. Note the wide cleared area where some huge gas pipeline was put in. I was hoping the mark location wouldn't turn out to be so close :unsure:

Link to comment

I stick to my original guess that the mark is to the northWEST of the road crossing and the description is incorrect. That said, your search is still a toughie as the area has changed significantly, no matter where the mark used to be.


PFF, you also have a hard find, if it remains. Some of the ones I have looked for have been there, but a lot are definitely gone. Many changes may have conspired to remove the mark and traces of it. At least you could find the clues that helped you look for it.

Link to comment

It's 7F outside right now, so this one will have to wait a bit. I'll cling to any thought that gives the thing a chance, and me a chance to still find it. On the downside, the published coordinates are right across the street from where I looked. That's typical around here; my guess is the road on the map is a line, and it's easy for the person doing the scaling to hit the wrong side. They seem to do a better job with the longer distances from stations and the like. OTOH, statistically they tend to put the marks in certain places. that means there are probably four areas that deserve a scan. Again, the environment is against me, as the area across the street where the published coordinates are, is a swamp! Another possibility is that the centerline of the road has been moved a bit. The one truth I'm trying to cling to, is the distance from the rails. Since I know where the track bed was, at least that gives me a couple lines to follow. Now, to go from the centerline, or one of the rails?

Link to comment

The description definitely says centerline of the track. Not that I'd trust an estimate of where the tracks used to be any closer than that anyway.


Note that the description puts the disk at about the elevation of the rail bed. I can't tell for sure on the pictures, but if you stand there and look at the general level of the rail bed, isn't that higher than the area you are looking in? If so, and if we are interpreting the description right, then the post (at least the top) has been removed.


Also, is the road higher than the rail bed? That would imply regrading since the disk was reported. It looks like maybe the rail bed has been graded down to make a ditch alongside the road.


If these observations are correct as seen in person, then I'd make one more sweep with the metal detector and call it "NF after a careful search".

Edited by Bill93
Link to comment



Something to consider before throwing in the towel.


When I look at your photo of where you think the old RR bed is it appears to be a bit too narrow. It looks to be just an old drive of some sort.


The area where the pipeline was put has more of the look needed to find this mark. Ask yourself why would the pipeline company go to all the effort to cut a new path when the old RR bed was already there?


Good luck,



Link to comment

One hint I can think of is to go to your local tax assessors office and look at the tax map of that area. Sometimes you can tell the location of the old railroad right of ways from the way the property lines run. They might also have some archived maps that show the right of way. Also you might try the local Farm Service agency they should have old aerial photos of your area. If you could find a photo that pre dates the Gas line it should help a lot.

Link to comment


The railroad looks wide enough to me. The double row of trees is an indication that there were tracks there. My bet about the pipeline is that they were put in beside the railbed--maybe it is railbanked against future use.


Photobuff, now that I looked at the pics more carefully I think that is exactly where I would have looked, within fudge factor range of course. The weather has pretty much shut me down too. We got an early 8 inch snow a week or so ago and I am willing to bet it will hang around through the winter. The temps have been low and we are probably getting more snow this week. Sigh. Guess it is time to put away the benchmarking backpack.

Link to comment

Yeah, based on the aerial photos and topo maps, I'm confident that the photo is the rail bed. It's similar to lots of other rail beds around here. I do wonder if the road was moved slightly when it was redone. The one number I think I can count on is the distance from the track centerline. I need to search around that line, and now I'm thinking of searching much closer to the road; if the road was moved, the mark could be at the edge, or even paved over!


We're expecting significant snow, and the ground is pretty well frozen now. I'm burning wood in the stove like crazy, so this might have to wait until spring. Mention was made of the benchmarking backpack. I'm pretty happy with my kit right now. Cheapie but sensitive metal detector, 3/8" aluminum probe rod with wood handle, driveway reflector on rod for marking positions, GPSr, compass, metric/imperial tape measure, pens, paper, bound books of benchmark data sheets, digital camera, pruning clippers, straight spade with a couple foot wood handle, a folding shovel, and a roll of paper towels. Need to add some kind of water bottle. Harbor Freight has 100' tapes for about $7, but so far I've made do with the 25 footer.


What I really want is some ground penetrating radar, or the system the oil people use where you set off explosives and capture an underground image by computer processing the sound waves :blink:

Link to comment

Has anyone considered applying for a Government Grant to help offset the costs of looking for this one Survey marker? The Man hours of thought and contemplation have got to be worth hundreds of thousand alone at this point, especially if this were really billable work! :unsure:


We could inquire to NGS to rename this station in the honor of the attempt to find it, and then begin a commemorative event, based around the reset which is a special geocaching station stamping...



Link to comment

Good one Rob,


I was just thinking that no survey crew would put this time into locating a mark--they have a job to do and if they can't find a mark in a reasonable amount of time it would be on to plan B.


Luckily this is a hobby, and as such, can easily become an obsession. We are all pulling for Photobuff to find that mark and will gladly inundate him with ideas and thoughts until he finds it or gives up in frustation. Whether the frustration is over the hunt or the suggestions will remain to be seen!

Link to comment

It's like going to the racetrack and winning first time out. It all started with the benchmark up the road from here (NB0908). It had no recovery record since 1942, and it just bugged the heck out of me. I found it as much out of dumb luck as anything, but I still found it after a couple tries and a certain amount of confused thinking and digging. Then there was the next one. And the next one. Now it's a full blown addiction. If I could put the same amount of time and energy into finding fame and fortune...


I did file an official report on NB0908, and I'd just be tickled if they'd get around to updating the data sheet.


The only thing that scares me is an old cartoon, maybe Bugs Bunny or Road Runner, where they're looking for some kind of buried treasure, and all you can see, all the way to the horizon, are the thousands of holes they dug looking for the thing.

Link to comment

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Followers 0
  • Create New...