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I have really had a great time hunting benchmarks because...


1) It has made us see so much more in the outdoors, by being aware of our surroundings. We are always watching for benchmarks and seeing a lot of things that we had never noticed and just driven or walked past before.


2) The history and hardships of the people in the field to measure and map the country is amazing! I have learned so much more about the history of our country from this hobby and rockhounding (the old miners) than I ever learned in school!


And there is the fact that John & I do this together is a plus.


Now, I have told why we do this...how about you? Tell us why you hunt for marks.




"I really have a great time hunting benchmarks because...."

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I have always spent a lot of time in the outdoors, hiking, fishing, riding climbing, and I used to hunt. Benchmarking has given me another purpose for being in the outdoors. I usually do it alone as I'm retired and there are not to many retired people in my area who would spend the time required to hike or climb looking for the bm's I'm partial to.



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I've had an interest in benchmarks, ever since coming across one many years ago. I also have a great interest in the outdoors, and vistiting historical sites (such as old brick kilns, iron furnaces, ghost towns, abandonded ???, ect).


I happened across geocaching while trying to find an abandonded railroad tunnel, from there, I found the benchmarking part.


Since then, I've found that the search for benchmarks has yielded numerous interesting sites, and I've met many people, both here in the formus, and in the field. I've learned alot.


I report many of my finds to the NGS, which gives me the satisfaction of doing something that someone may benefit from.


I still enjoy geocaching. It seems to me that there is so much more to find/see/do with benchmarks.

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I also love getting out and about, both for the fresh air, the exercise (at least when I climb mountains. Not so much when I walk over to a bridge abutment!), and to learn.

I love the built environment and love finding benchmarks because they reflect the human desire to build and know things.

I also love meeting people and have had conversations with hundreds of people because of benchmarking. I have learned about the areas where the benchmarks are located, both through research and through talking to local folks.

One thing that I find is different--I hunt sometimes to be alone. I spend almost every waking hour with people at work and my family and it feels good to be truly alone sometimes. Besides, neither my wife or kids have any desire to hunt with me, so they would be a drag.

The final reason I hunt is to help surveyors by providing updated recovery information. I report all my finds to NGS, even without changes in description, so that future users can be made aware that the mark was found recently.

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It's interesting to see all the different answers.


My interest in benchmark hunting is mostly the love of finding things. I collect stamps, coins, antiques, have always picked up rocks (I have buckets of them!), have gone dumpster diving, scrapyarding (looking for cool stuff in a scrapyard), metal detecting, and beachcombing.


It's about the thrill of the find - the "There it is!" or the "Wow I finally found one of these!" moment.


Most people don't particularly care about finding things, I find. To some of us though, finding things is one of life's main pleasures. I guess it's vaguely like being addicted to an intermittent-success activity like gambling or fishing. I'm not an intermittent-success person though; for me, it's finding! ;)


There's also an element of intellectual interest and challenge in benchmarking too. There's the challenge of each PID - how to read and interpret its 'survey speak' to-reach, how to read the landscape for evidence of what used to be there, and of course the little calculations that are sometimes needed. There's also the intellectual curiosity about surveying, coordinate adjustment, datums, ellipsoids, global positioning, accuracy vs. precision, etc. There's also an intellectual sense of time associated with benchmarks. Wilderness changed to farms, changed to villages and then changed to suburbs, all the while with the benchmark sitting there in its unchanging little cement home while the winds of change blow by. The people who set the really old marks - what transportation did they use, what did they talk about while doing their work, what were their homes and towns like? Alone, looking at an old benchmark, I feel both a sense of time and of timelessness.

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Well stated BDT! And something I feel too.


I love the hunt, especially if it is successful, and even more especiallier if I have to interpret some of the information on the datasheet or research for clues to the mark's existence. Finding lost roadways, old foundations, old bridges, etc., to locate a benchmark makes the hunt, and find, such a great feeling.

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I agree with much of what others have said, solving the puzzle, finding something hidden, being outdoors, learning history, and turning in useful reports (best of all is proving a serious error in the data).


But the answer I'm still looking for is the 10-words-or-less answer that will satisfy the farmer who sees me at the abandoned RR crossing of the county road (nowhere near his buildings), and comes down to see what is going on. I tell him "looking for a survey mark that was along the railroad so I can report if it is still there".



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Because I'm a compulsive/obsessive individual who can't resist a challenge? ;) And benchmarks can be very challenging.

And, someday, I hope to find the answers to the eternal questions:

What's the difference between a flagpole and a flagstaff?

What's the difference between a tank and a raised tank?

How long do dolphins survive at sea?

If most spires are church spires, why are there two categories?

Have any clay pipes survived since 1935?

There used to be a dance hall reachable by boat, up the Hackensack River? Why?!?


The odd things is that I'm doing a lot less hiking, and a lot more driving since I took up geocaching and benchmarking, but I've visited a lot more interesting places. I'm learning to gauge the age of concrete. (Now, there's a useful field of knowledge. The concrete with the angular pieces of black traprock does date from the thirties!)

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Bill93 - Why? Because it is a fun & challenging hobby....


Harry - A Flagstaff is a military term meaning a Flagpole of wood (A tree of the right diameter with the branches removed. Hence the term Flags at half-staff when someone has died.


A flagpole is the civilian name for the Flagstaff.


Some buildings do have spires but are not Churches, hence the designation difference.


Depending on the type of dolphin it can be very long or only a few years. Dolphins the mammals can live quite a few years where dolphins the fish only about 1/3 the time of the mammals.


The dance hall is up river to help slow down the "Revenuers"!!



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What's the difference between a tank and a raised tank?


I would think that one is sitting on the ground while the other is sitting up in the air with legs supporting it off the ground.



Have any clay pipes survived since 1935?


They can survive for centuries buried in the ground but finding them requires a lot of work.

Edited by Z15
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The dance hall is up river to help slow down the "Revenuers"!!


Down river for thos'uns of us that know the country.


Hmm I thought I would post something interesting and forgot my brilliant thoughts.


The words became elusive and I couldn't recon the direction.



My mystery with the Little round brass objects,and not just them,older marks that mark the Nation and the World.


Dad got me interested when way back HMM well, many moons ago,when lassie was a pup or was she,anyway we would go on hunting journies.

He could locate those things with no GPS,No Compass just a map.

Darned if I can find em with my GPS.LOL.


But we usually used no maps to hunt way back up in them thar hills.

But he always would get us back to base camp,with food.

He gradually oriented me to all the outdoor knowledge's.

Marking,creating waypoints(memory)no compass and GPS whats tha?,leading.graduating..well still working on that,and we won't go into the bambi story,or the Mountian lion.


Any way back to the little round discs and other marks scattered about the country,all of them are important in their own right,notable upon visit.


It amazes me that some of the ancient (old)marks still exist.

And are still used to this day.

The data sheets really do not go into details about the History of the mark.

That is what I like to research.

I have found some very Hstorical marks and stood on the Places where Lewis and Clark walked,where the First Pilgrims landed.....

Now if I started in on this conversation while searching for a mark, asking why do you look for these things?

The person would probably want to shut me up and allow me to look for the mark.

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I like it for many of the reasons already mentioned.


I like mapping, I like GPS, I like the outdoors, and I have interests in surveying as well. I like searching for and finding things, and I like history. BM hunting sort of wraps it all into one.


I do more goecaching than BM hunting, but with BM's I can stick closer to home and attempt to get the details right.

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Back in June we wrote to an official of the FAA a couple of times to get information about whether and when certain radio towers had been dismantled or replaced. When she asked why we wanted the information, we explained what benchmarks and the database are, and added this:


The Survey makes grateful use of the findings of volunteer benchmark hunters, who go into the countryside trying to verify the information in the database, which is available to the public. In this way the Survey can be notified that a mark is still in good condition, or so worn that its stamping is illegible, or that it has been destroyed. Since many years can pass between “recoveries” of a mark, this work is essential, ongoing, and never-ending. Fortunately, there are numerous people like us, who enjoy looking for something that somebody else didn’t find, and being precise and cautious in the face of uncertain evidence.


BDT's wonderful paragraph says much more. We'd add that we like doing this together; our sometimes different approaches have a way of deepening the relationship as well as widening the scope of the search and the significance of the find.

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In my professional job, I have to solve all sorts of applications, installation, programming , design, and troubleshooting issues with our company's equipment. I can sit all day and the job is a no brainer - experience pays off to make it this easy. Sometimes, to the point of boredom, which makes other people really wonder.


I have found that in finding benchmarks and noting where they are, my mind is constantly chewing on spatial relationships between the benchmarks. I have found marks that are not listed on this website or the NGS database (WI DOT benchmarks, both task designated and not). Now I take these and use marks that are listed and try to figure out relationships in my head. I have found at least one (my very first one!!!) that when you work out the positions, is very interesting to me.


Then again, there is the thrill of the search. An example is trying to find WAUWA AZ MK RESET. I have scouted for this mark all over and have not found it but I found a mark that is not listed in the datasheet for another station, MILWAUKEE GPS. I found an AZ MK for this station and calculated that this new mark could serve double duty, as the AZ MK for MILWAUKEE GPS and it is just about at 270 deg true from where the, as yet, unrecoverd WAUWA benchmark should be.


Asides from the mind exercises that are fun, I get outside and moving. I enjoy long distance bicycling for exercise and the walking over unknown territory is just as fun.


Happy Hunting!

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