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Sean's Mom

What is okay/legal to do?

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I've found a few benchmarks and hope to find a lot more. But, I ran into an issue today.

 

I found some witness posts and wanted to see if the survey mark was there. However, the marker coords and witness posts were in an area near a bridge, clearly labeled (multiple times) "Do not enter" "No Trespassing" etc. In all honesty, there was nothing but gravel and weeds around - not like it was anyone's home/farm/business.

 

I'm assuming benchmarks in these areas are pretty much un-findable if you want to abide by the rules, correct?

 

Also, what can you do to recover a benchmark? I've read about tools people use to find things, which I understand. But my concern is if I'm digging on the side of the road for a possibly buried mark, will 5-0 come up and hassle me? Or, is digging and pulling up caps and whatnot okay to do?

 

Thanks in advance!

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Sean's Mom -

 

We who hunt benchmarks wrestle with the issues you've brought up almost every time we go out to hunt. My personal standard is this: I never, ever do anything that I'm not supposed top do unless, of course, I'm pretty sure I can get away with it. I suspect that this is no help to you. So, on a more practical level, here are some more specific standards to which I (usually) adhere:

 

I never go near schools when there are students in the vicinity, unless I can make contact with a responsible member of the staff and get permission to prowl around. The reasons for this are obvious.

 

I never go on to private residential property without permission of the owner. Regarding posted non-residential property (agro or undeveloped), well, this is where the "can get away with it" standard usually comes into play.

 

Dogs: Though I may have a good idea where the dog's "turf" ends (and beyond which he or she should not be a threat to me), I alsways remind myself that the dog may have a different idea of where his or her turf ends. Thus, I give dogs a wide berth.

 

East of Saint Louis (plus or minus), I do not go onto railroad rights of way. To the west, I do not hesitate to trespass. Same with locations on or near interstate highways.

 

On public road rights of way, I generally do whatever I want (consistent with not being hit by a vehicle or interferring with the safe and orderly flow of traffic). If conditions warrant, I wear an orange vest and put out an orange cone. Sometimes, the line between the right of way and private residential property is not clear (to the property owner, that is). In these cases, I treat the location as private residential property.

 

I behave respectfully around places of worship and in cemeteries.

 

I generally avoid any situation that gives the appearance as having "homeland security" issues. Not only do I want to avoid being detained, but I also do not want to distract those charged with such sites' security, etc.

 

When in doubt about anything else, I just make a gut calculation: is the recovery worth the hassle. If I think it is, I do everything I can to look like and act like I belong where I am and that I'm supposed to do what I'm doing. I tend to dress like some utility worker on the job, so this strategy has worked well.

 

If approached, I never mis-represent who I am. I start off by saying, "Hey, I'm just a hobbyist looking for a geodetic control point ... yadda yadda yadda". This works surprisingly well. Most people, official and otherwise, are initially interested in such eccentricity and generally respond positively.

 

I am mildly risk-preferent and probably a touch above average in physical capability. Therefore, I occasionally pursue marks under conditions that I would not recommend to others. I am bolder when accompanied by either Mrs. 7 or fivethings. I become Indiana Jones when accompanied by the very capable sixthings.

 

In the example you cite (bridge with no trespassing sign), I would tend to treat such signs as merely advisory, at least as they apply to me.

 

Hope this helps.

Will

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East of Saint Louis (plus or minus), I do not go onto railroad rights of way. To the west, I do not hesitate to trespass. Same with locations on or near interstate highways.

 

Hope this helps.

Will

 

seventhings,

 

You have a very interesting list.

 

I am curious, why do you hestitate to proceed when east of Saint Louis but not west?

 

Thanks,

 

The TillaMurphs

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TillaMurphs -

 

Why West but not East?

 

I've actually trespassed on both sides of the Mississippi, but I'm much more comfortable doing so in the West. Part of it has to do with the "wide open spaces" (and fewer eyeballs) aspect of the West. But it also has to do with my specific experience. I have, on one or two (or three) occasions, attracted unwanted attention along RR rows and interstates in the East (where I've done the majority of my hunting). Out West, I've walked along rows and across interstates and no one has ever taken notice.

 

I also recall, during a discussion of RR rows in this forum several years ago, that there was a general consensus among the in-crowd that enforcement of RR property rights was significantly less stringent in the West than in the East. This seems consistent with my experience. Hence, my rules of engagement for RR rows and interstates.

 

Will

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RRs & ROWs: If you ever get out to Southern California, at least the more populated parts of it, better pretend you are back east. I've attracted undesired official types several times, but stayed out of (major) trouble. Learned my lesson(s).

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I've found a few benchmarks and hope to find a lot more. But, I ran into an issue today.

 

I found some witness posts and wanted to see if the survey mark was there. However, the marker coords and witness posts were in an area near a bridge, clearly labeled (multiple times) "Do not enter" "No Trespassing" etc. In all honesty, there was nothing but gravel and weeds around - not like it was anyone's home/farm/business.

 

I'm assuming benchmarks in these areas are pretty much un-findable if you want to abide by the rules, correct?

 

Thanks in advance!

 

 

No Trespassing means just that - No Trespassing. If you wish to recover those benchmarks then ask for permission to enter the restricted area. It is amazing how often one can get permission to access a benchmark in a restricted area.

 

There are plenty of benchmarks waiting to be recovered that one does not need to break the law just to get a benchmark. Just move on to the next one.

 

John

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If you wish to recover those benchmarks then ask for permission to enter the restricted area.

 

That's why I noted the condition of the restricted area. It's a traffic bridge over what is now just weeds and dried shrubs. There is no residence or business anywhere around the bridge, nor the benchmark areas. Therefore, there is no one I can just approach and say "Hey, may I....". I appreciate the input, and I believe your opinion kind of coincides with my original conclusion.

 

Thanks!

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Out of curiosity, where is the mark? Is it level with the road (bridge deck, abutment top), on the bridge itself, on the roadway, in the grass? And what kind of road is it? Freeway?

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If you wish to recover those benchmarks then ask for permission to enter the restricted area.

 

That's why I noted the condition of the restricted area. It's a traffic bridge over what is now just weeds and dried shrubs. There is no residence or business anywhere around the bridge, nor the benchmark areas. Therefore, there is no one I can just approach and say "Hey, may I....". I appreciate the input, and I believe your opinion kind of coincides with my original conclusion.

 

Thanks!

 

Check with the state highway dept. They are the ones who have jurisdiction over old bridges (usually). Perhaps someone from their maintenance dept would be willing to "assist" you in the recovery.

 

John

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Out of curiosity, where is the mark? Is it level with the road (bridge deck, abutment top), on the bridge itself, on the roadway, in the grass? And what kind of road is it? Freeway?

 

Here's a map. I wasn't able to find any mark, but there are quite a few if you look for nearest benchmarks to the cache I listed. Also what's odd, is that benchmark AH5203 that is in that area lists a number of reference points that say "No Benchmark was found with that Point ID (PID)." when you click the links.

 

2ujjdrr.jpg

 

The blue marker is Beam Me Up (GC1859W). The "river" in the map is extremely dry. Maybe after a heavy rain, there's water. Seems to be no sign of it though.

 

Looking at it like a +, where the vertical line is the HWY 33/198 bridge and the horizontal is the river, the UR quad has the Geocache and at least one witness post. The UL quad is just weeds with no signs of businesses or whatever and a couple of witness posts (this is mainly the quad in my original post). The LR quad is the same as the UL (no businesses, and a couple of witness posts). The LL quad has some kind of auto body business and a couple of witness posts.

 

Now, just to make clear, I got to Coalinga and found that only my caches (not marks) were loaded to my GPS, so I was hunting blindly. I wasn't really planning on posting anything until I read the descriptions and ended up confusing myself.

 

Thanks!

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Hello,

 

That looks like a very interesting area, with that old abandonned airport right there. I took a quick look using the Scaredy Cat Films Benchmark Viewer and it doesn't look like there are any marks on that bridge in the NGS database. However, there are/were serveral marks in the near vicinity.

 

coalinga.JPG

 

I'm not advocating that you do or don't go back to look for these marks. I'm simply providing you with some additional information. The red pushpin with the letter "A" shows the location an "adjusted" mark, meaning its location is very precise. However, based on the highway departments writeup, it sounds like that mark was destroyed. The other pushpins with the letter "S" show the locations of "scaled" marks. Those locations may not be accurate. You'll have to read the descriptions in their data sheets to find them. Only the one colored in green has been "recently" found. It doesn't mean the other 2 aren't there, they just might be more difficult to find.

 

Having said all that, there may be indeed survey marks in the structure of the new bridge placed by the highway deparment or some other local agency. Hence, the presence of the witness posts that you mentioned. If that's the case, you can log them on Waymarking.com under the US Benchmarks category.

 

Have fun!

 

RF

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Hello,

 

That looks like a very interesting area, with that old abandonned airport right there. I took a quick look using the Scaredy Cat Films Benchmark Viewer and it doesn't look like there are any marks on that bridge in the NGS database. However, there are/were serveral marks in the near vicinity.

 

I'm not advocating that you do or don't go back to look for these marks. I'm simply providing you with some additional information. The red pushpin with the letter "A" shows the location an "adjusted" mark, meaning its location is very precise. However, based on the highway departments writeup, it sounds like that mark was destroyed. The other pushpins with the letter "S" show the locations of "scaled" marks. Those locations may not be accurate. You'll have to read the descriptions in their data sheets to find them. Only the one colored in green has been "recently" found. It doesn't mean the other 2 aren't there, they just might be more difficult to find.

 

Having said all that, there may be indeed survey marks in the structure of the new bridge placed by the highway deparment or some other local agency. Hence, the presence of the witness posts that you mentioned. If that's the case, you can log them on Waymarking.com under the US Benchmarks category.

 

Have fun!

 

RF

 

Thank you so much for the info. The one with the A, I'm almost certain is the one I began to look for but was then driven away from by all of the "NO TRESPASSING!!!!!" signs. The other 5+ witness signs I saw aren't anywhere near those other points.

 

I really wish it wasn't so bad to poke around these kinds of places. I didn't realize until after I got home that it was the old airport. Now I want to go be nosy. lol But, no worries....I live ~80 miles away. I don't plan to go there just to do something illegal.

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Also what's odd, is that benchmark AH5203 that is in that area lists a number of reference points that say "No Benchmark was found with that Point ID (PID)." when you click the links.

Sean's Mom,

 

You can look up those reference points on the NGS website. However, the ones that you could not find on the geocaching website had incomplete data. All of the PIDs listed below had "NN" as a code, meaning that there is "No geodetic control at this mark" for both horizontal control and vertical control. There were also codes D, F or X showing for vertical control on 3 of the marks.

 

GU1681 COALINGA RM 1

AH4977 COALINGA AZ MK

GU1680 COALINGA RM 2 - D

GU1683 COALINGA RM 5 - F

GU1684 X 944 NN - X

 

Below I have copied the NGS explanation about incomplete data. This also discusses the codes.

 

- This listing contains control for which complete digital - -

- data sheets where not provided. The complete data sheets were -

- not provided for the reason listed below. -

- -

- -------- ------------------------------ -

- X Surface Mark Reported Destroyed -

- F Bench Mark not yet adjusted. -

- D No Descriptive Text available -

- N No geodetic control at this mark -

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There's lots of good advice out there, and remember, it's just a hobby so don't get arrested, or shot.

 

That said, I'm going to go in a slightly different direction. Going prepared can get you into lots of "questionable" places. I recommend:

 

1) A safety vest. $30 from an online store. Wear over work clothes.

 

2) A metal, enclosed clipboard.

 

3) Printed copies of the mark data you are searching for, and a copy of www.ufp.org/~bicknell/benchmarks/flyer.pdf.

 

I remember one particularly funny time. A cop was sitting in an abandoned parking lot. I pulled up on the other side of some railroad tracks in the driveway of an abandoned house looking for a mark on a culvert. I found the culvert, but like many there was dirt on the top of it. I got out my shovel and cleared off about two scoops of dirt and found the mark. The cop drove over and asked if I was "looking for a dead body", I said "No, a survey marker on this culvert" and held up my clipboard. He said "Have fun" and drove off.

 

Most private land owners believe if you are looking for a survey mark you must be from the town/county/state/feds and the precursor to someone taking their land, expanding the road, or doing something else that will disrupt their lives. Being able to quickly explain your hobby and that all you want is a photo and most importantly that you can put notes online that others should leave them alone if they want generally gets you a lot of friends fast. I've had more than a few people personally escort me to the mark they knew was there, but didn't know what it was.

 

Passing a no-tresspass sign is not a good idea, there are legal implications to that. Ducking under a field gate to go 5 feet into the field and see a benchmark, that's your call. Wandering on to area 51 to find one, well, it was nice typing to you!

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Most private land owners believe if you are looking for a survey mark you must be from the town/county/state/feds and the precursor to someone taking their land, expanding the road, or doing something else that will disrupt their lives.

 

Good point. When approached by the curious (usually the owner of adjacent land), I make sure to mention in the first sentence that this is not a property related survey activity. Most of the marks we find are on highway ROWs. I've only once stopped searching for a mark on a ROW due to a land owner - he was drunk and driving his pickup in the ROW along side of me ranting about land owner rights and such. I figured I best leave that mark for another generation to find.

 

I am surprised at the amount of disinterest the public has. I have had police cars pass by while I am digging and not even stop. It's probably because I look like a professional :blink:

 

Brendan

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Funny thing happened to us a few years back. We were looking along this rural state highway for a string of BM's. At one stop I was getting something out of the back of my truck when a elderly lady (60's) pulled up and got out of her car with a bible. She proceeded to preach non stop from the moment her feet hit the ground, following me down thru the ditch to the woods line where my partner was. We finally had to put everything away, get in the truck and drive away to be rid of her. It was rather funny how fast she talked and rambled on and on in a loud voice. She was a complete stranger to us and struck us as possibly a little nuts. Also my partner was carrying a machete and that did not faze her.

Edited by Z15

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Or: How silly of me not to bring a ladder! Or am I just guessing?

 

I had an hour to kill in Nassau County, NY, so I went looking for KU3133 Salisbury. The field has obviously been regraded. What I found at the location (and the location for RM2) were two culverts set vertically into the ground. Salisbury appears to be 4 feet underground. I might have climbed into the culvert where I suspect RM2 was, but it was pouring rain. That one was probably only 3' underground. Why hasn't anyone told me that I need to carry a step ladder??? <_<

 

4ee05d80-e46c-40bb-b2a1-d92fed1bf11c.jpg

 

View down into culvert.

 

3eedb7c2-7c20-4296-9bf5-7a996d18206f.jpg

 

View from presumed location of RM2 to presumed location of KU3133.

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