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Unpublished Field Notes / Descriptions of Historic Marks?

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I'd like to visit and document as many of the remaining marks as possible that were set by Verplanck Colvin and his teams during the initial Adirondack Survey here in New York. I've been reading his annual reports to the state legislature from 1873 & 1879 which list some but not all of the marks set. The reports are a great read and it's obvious from his writings that he had a true passion for the Adirondacks and for his job. Some people even called it an obsession.

 

There's alot of history behind this survey and the impact that this survey had. Verplanck Colvin was among those whose opinion and testimony to the state legislature later led to the preservation of the Adirondacks and the formation of the Adirondack Park Agency.

 

Who would you contact if you were looking for information on historic benchmarks such as these? The marks themselves that I'm looking for don't bear the name of any particular agency but are brass/bronze ~2.5" disks set in drill holes. At the start of the survey he was appointed to the position of superintendent of the Adirondack survey by the state legislature and was given a $1000 budget, by the time the survey was complete he was the state superintendent of the new york state land survey.

 

Who would you contact for more information on the benchmarks placed during the initial adirondack survey? The state? What department? I've noticed that at least one USGS mark description mentions an "Adirondack Survey" mark. What department or organization would still have copies of his field notes or the other years reports to the legislature?

 

Anyone have any ideas or want to team up and tackle finding some of these marks? There are at least two styles that were set:

 

Verplanck_Colvin_bolt.jpg

VColvin.jpg

 

Ric

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Very interesting. I would be very interested to know where this survey disk design came from and when it was first used.

 

I would guess that you might obtain information from the NY state Dept. of Transportation. We currently don't have an NGS State Advisor in NY, but I'll ask an old friend of mine who used to be the NGS NY Advisor.

 

GeorgeL

NGS

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My contact doesn't have any information about Colvin, but seems to recall that there was an article about him in POB magazine about 10 years ago. He also suggests contacting the NY State Museum at: http://www.nysm.nysed.gov/gis/

 

POB is at: http://www.pobonline.com/. If you open this link, and then scroll down in the left column to "Archives", under "Resources", click and then enter COLVIN in the search box at the top of the page, you will find two articles about him.

 

GeorgeL

NGS

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The New York State Archives seems to hold some useful material.

 

Searching their catalog for keyword Colvin returned three hits, with the complete records below.

 

The first item appears to be microfilm copies of Colvin's Adirondack Survey field books. It says the "originals" are held by the Dept. of Environmental Conservation, but I don't know if "originals" refers to the original microfilm or the original field books.

 

The second and third items are maps, including an interesting connection with James Fenimore Cooper.

 

Note that microfilm/fiche copies may be available by interlibrary loan.

 

There are also some 33 images in the Digital Collection, including "Progress Sketch of the Primary Triangulation."

 

Hope this is of some help.

 

-ArtMan-

 

ITEM REPORT

 

Produced Tuesday, March 3, 2009 at 4:04 PM

 

Local system #: (N-Ar)B1406

Corp/Agency author: New York (State). Dept. of Environmental Conservation.

Bureau of Real Property.

Title: Field books by Verplanck Colvin for the Adirondack

Survey, [ca. 1872-1900]

Quantity: 14 cu. ft. 44 microfilm reels (442 volumes)

Arrangement: Numerical by volume number.

Medium: microfilm 35 mm.

Additional phys form: Microfilm is available at the New York State Archives

through interlibrary loan.

Reproduction note: Microfilm 44 reels : 35 mm.

Location of orig/dup: Originals held by Dept. of Environmental Conservation.

Historical/biog note: Verplanck Colvin (1847-1920) was a prominent surveyor

and promoter of the Adirondack Park. He began

surveying the Adirondacks in 1865. In 1870, he spoke

to the New York State Regents about surveying and

preserving the Adirondacks. In 1872, the Regents

appointed him the Supervisor of the State Survey and

established the Commission of State Parks to

investigate setting up the Adirondack Park. By 1880

Colvin had completed the most thorough survey of the

Adirondacks ever accomplished. He continued to work

as the State Surveyor for twenty-eight years. During

the time he was carrying out his survey work, he gave

speeches and campaigned for the establishment of the

Adirondack Park. In 1900, after thirty-five years of

advocating his cause, Colvin inexplicably abandoned

the crusade. He died in 1920 in a hospital for the

mentally ill.

Abstract: These field books were created from 1872 to 1900 as

the result of Chapter 733 of the Laws of 1872 which

appropriated money "to aid in completing a survey of

the Adirondack wilderness of New York." Chapter 848

of the Laws of 1872 appointed commissioners for two

years to survey "the timber regions lying within

counties [of the Adirondack region]", with a an eye to

converting them into a public park. The

Superintendent of the State Land Survey was authorized

to make any surveys which the State Comptroller and

the State Forestry Commission deemed necessary to

settle the boundaries of lands having disputed titles.

Abstract: Subsequent appropriations were passed to continue the

survey. As the Superintendent of the Adirondack

Survey, and later as the Superintendent of the State

Land Survey, Verplanck Colvin conducted the survey

with his assistants during the 1870s and 1890s.

Geographic localities surveyed include Essex,

Franklin, Hamilton, Herkimer, Oneida counties; Totten

and Crossfield Purchase and MaComb's Purchase; and

Vrooman's Patent, along with the myriad of natural and

built-environment features located on the land.

Abstract: Types of information found in the volumes vary, but

most books include survey notes and topographical

sketches. The field books may contain some or all of

the following information: surveyors name; name of

assistant(s); name and/or lot number of the locality

or landmark; and date the survey was conducted,

completed and/or filed. Many of the field books

contain notes, topographical sketches, and letters

tipped-in or inserted between the pages. Indexes,

legends, and conversion tables are often found either

in the front or back of the volumes, sometimes bound

ITEM REPORT

 

Produced Tuesday, March 3, 2009 at 4:04 PM

 

or tipped in. A few of the volumes contain

journal-type entries which focus primarily on the

survey work, descriptions of location, weather, and

daily activities. There are few personal remarks.

Abstract: The bulk of the field books are bound in leather with

summary/title information printed and/or written on

the cover. The pages often have ruled lines and

columns with headings indicating the type of

information listed. At the top of each page, there

are lines to provide information such as assistant's

name, date, and location. These leather bound volumes

generally measure 6 x 9 inches, with some smaller

volumes measuring 5 x 7 inches. Other field books are

bound in paper with and without ruled lines, and open

either from the side or the top. These paper bound

volumes range in size from 4 x 6 inches to 7 x 8 1/2

inches.

Abstract: The field books are arranged by volume number; they

are roughly grouped together chronologically and by

geographical locality. The volumes were renumbered

consecutively at the time of reformatting onto

microfilm. Volumes with original numbers 109, 131 and

213 are missing. Volume 132 has only a cover extant.

The series includes three duplicate copies of a

transcription of volume 265; only the original

transcription copy was reformatted on microfilm. The

"T" series (volumes 417 to 442) form a distinct subset

of surveys which were conducted using an instrument

called a theodolite.

Provenance note: This series was filmed by State Archives staff as part

of a cooperative reformatting project with the State

Dept. of Environmental Conservation, funded by a grant

by the National Endowment for the Humanities. At the

conclusion of the project, 43 reels of microfilm were

sent to the State Records Center for secure storage;

43 reels were reserved at the State Archives as the

series print master.

Provenance note: One reel of microfilm was added to this series in

November 2008, bringing the total volume of this

series to 44 microfilm reels.

Finding aids: Volume list gives date, names of surveyors, and brief

description of survey areas.

Publications note: These field books are cited in the publication: Colvin

in the Adirondacks: a chronology and index / Francis

B. Rosevear. Utica, New York : North Country Books,

1992.

Legal citations: L. 1872, Ch. 733; L. 1872, Ch. 848.

Linking entry note: Agency record NYSV86-a369 describes the history and

functions of the Dept. of Environmental Conservation

resulting in creation of the records series.

Subject: Surveying--Public lands.

Subject: Parks--New York (State)

Subject: Mountains--New York (State)

Subject: Conservationists.

Geographic terms: New York (State)

Geographic terms: Adirondack Mountains (N.Y.)

Geographic terms: Adirondack Forest Preserve (N.Y.)

Geographic terms: Adirondack Park (N.Y.)

Form/genre terms: Field notes. aat

Form/genre terms: Site maps. aat

Form/genre terms: Microforms. aat

Function terms: Surveying public land. aat

ITEM REPORT

 

Produced Tuesday, March 3, 2009 at 4:04 PM

 

Function terms: Protecting environment. aat

Personal author: Colvin, Verplanck, 1847-1920.

Host item entry: (CStRLIN)86-a369

LOCATION: New York State Archives, Cultural Education Center,

Albany, NY

 

ARCHIVES CALL NUMBER COPY MATERIAL LOCATION

1)B1406 1 MICROFILM SARASTACKS

 

Local system #: (N-Ar)12405

Corp/Agency author: New York (State). State Engineer and Surveyor.

Title: Land survey maps, 1798-1888.

Quantity: .9 cu. ft. (3 maps)

Medium: maps.

Abstract: This series consists of three distinct single item

maps. All three are survey maps dealing with land

boundaries and ownership. Specifically they show a

road patent in Hoffman Township, lots in Macomb's

Purchase, and lots in the Arthursborough Patent.

Abstract: Another common element is that at some time these maps

were all apparently filed in the office of the State

Engineer and Surveyor. In 1846 that office assumed

the duties of the abolished Surveyor General; the

chief duty of the office was surveying the public

lands.

Abstract: 12405-79: This is a single item map of a road patent

in Hoffman Township (Essex and Warren counties) dated

around 1798, surveyed by Philip Reichert, and

annotated in 1842.

Abstract: The map may be related to map number 180 listed in the

Catalogue of Maps and Field Books in the Land Bureau

of the Department of the State Engineer and Surveyor,

published by the State of New York in 1920. That map

is listed on page 259 (entitled map of the tract

granted to Hoffman, etc.) as being copied from a copy

of Philip Reichert, and taken from the draught of S.

Dewy, made 1797.

Abstract: Transfer documentation from the Department of

Environmental Conservation refers to "Index #48" the

meaning of which is unknown.

Abstract: 12405-83: This single sheet tracing, dated about 1803,

is a copy of a map of lots in the Arthursborough

Patent in Montgomery County. The original map was

from the land book of William Cooper, which passed

into possession of his descendent, James Fenimore

Cooper. The purpose for which the tracing was made is

unknown; the existence of a notarized statement

indicates that the copy may have been provided to the

state to fill in gaps in its land records. There is

some discrepancy between information contained on the

tracing and that found in the document that

accompanies it.

Abstract: An attestation on the face of the tracing, signed by

James Fenimore Cooper and dated May 10, 188[5],

certifies that it is a copy of a map on page 57 of

William Cooper's land book made between the years 1800

and 1810, which came to James Fenimore as the "great

grandson of said William Cooper". A separate sworn

statement by James Fenimore Cooper to a notary, dated

April 8, 1888, accompanies the tracing. In it James

Fenimore Cooper states that he possesses the map as a

grandson of William Cooper of Cooperstown, that the

ITEM REPORT

 

Produced Tuesday, March 3, 2009 at 4:04 PM

 

map is marked with the initials of supposed purchasers

of various lots in the patent, and that "S. Wilder

Esq" has made a true copy of the original map, which

is itself supposed to have been made between 1800 and

1805.

Abstract: The tracing is marked "Map 4" and "New Survey for Wm.

Cooper by Benj. Gilbert Esq." and is done in red and

black ink. Lots are designated as red blocks in which

are numbers and initials (those not marked belong to

William Cooper). There are also hand written notes

describing lot size, character of the land, and

specifics of particular purchases. Some chain

measurements are present, and acreage is given for the

larger tracts (each lot contains 205 acres "from

actual survey the lines being run and marked"). The

tracing also sketchily shows adjacent lands (including

the location of a church) and rough boundaries. The

sheet measures 38 x 47 cm.

Abstract: 12405-85: This single item tracing is a copy of a map

of Great Lots 1, 2, and 3 in Macomb's Purchase

(Franklin and St. Lawrence counties), as surveyed into

towns in 1799 and 1800 by W. B. Wright. The copy was

made in April of 1880 by Verplank Colvin.

Abstract: The map was made pursuant to Chapter 733 of the Laws

of 1872, which provided $1,000 for the completion and

publication of the map of the Adirondack Survey, and

by Chapter 370 of the Laws of 1878, which extended for

six years the work of the Adirondack Survey. Prior to

1872, Colvin, who had begun the exploration of the

Adirondack region in 1865, had carried on the survey

at his own expense. Although it is not clear for what

purpose the copy was made, it was apparently filed in

the office of the State Engineer and Surveyor.

Abstract: The tracing is on architectural linen and measures

approximately 76 x 109 cm.

Abstract: This map, as well as related maps and field books, are

indexed in the Catalogue of Maps and Field Books in

the Land Bureau of the Department of the State

Engineer and Surveyor, published by the State of New

York in 1920. The map is listed as map number 1081 in

that catalog.

Provenance note: All maps came to the Archives from the Dept. of

Environmental Conservation, although it is not known

how that department obtained them. There is also

evidence that the 1985 accretion was previously held

by the New York State Adirondack Survey before finding

its way to the Dept. of Environmental Conservation.

The use of the maps in these agencies is not known.

Linking entry note: Agency record NYSV86-a387 describes the history and

functions of the Dept. of Transportation resulting in

creation of record series.

Linking entry note: Agency record NYSV91-a103 describes the history and

functions of the State Engineer and Surveyor resulting

in creation of record series.

Personal subject: Cooper, James Fenimore.

Personal subject: Cooper, William.

Corporate subject: New York (State). Dept. of Environmental Conservation.

Corporate subject: New York (State). Bureau of Real Property.

Subject: Land settlement--New York (State)

Subject: Land grants--New York (State)

Subject: Roads--Location.

Geographic terms: New York (State)

ITEM REPORT

 

Produced Tuesday, March 3, 2009 at 4:04 PM

 

Geographic terms: Arthursborough Patent (N.Y.)

Geographic terms: Macomb's Purchase (N.Y.)

Geographic terms: Hoffman Township (N.Y.)

Geographic terms: Warren County (N.Y.)

Geographic terms: Essex County (N.Y.)

Geographic terms: Montgomery County (N.Y.)

Geographic terms: Franklin County (N.Y.)

Geographic terms: St. Lawrence County (N.Y.)

Form/genre terms: Manuscript maps. aat

Form/genre terms: Tracings. aat

Form/genre terms: Maps. aat

Function terms: Documenting land use. aat

Function terms: Recording land grants. aat

Personal author: Reichert, Philip.

Personal author: Colvin, Verplank.

Corporate author: New York (State). Surveyor General.

Host item entry: (CStRLIN)NYSV86-a387.

Host item entry: (CStRLIN)NYSV91-a103.

 

ARCHIVES CALL NUMBER COPY MATERIAL LOCATION

1)12405 1 PAPERRECDS SARASTACKS

 

Local system #: (N-Ar)B1405

Corp/Agency author: New York (State). Dept. of Environmental Conservation.

 

Bureau of Real Property.

Title: Verplanck Colvin maps of the Adirondack wilderness,

[ca. 1872-1900]

Quantity: 0.4 cu. ft. 337 fiches, col. (336 maps)

Arrangement: Numerical by assigned map number. Original map series

is unarranged, although occasionally related maps were

grouped by assigned DEC number.

Medium: microfiche 105 mm.

Additional phys form: Scanned images of a sample of maps are available at

the New York State Archives.

Reproduction note: Microfilm 337 fiche ; 105 mm.

Location of orig/dup: Originals held by Dept. of Environmental Conservation.

Abstract: This series of maps was produced as a result of

Chapter 733 of the Laws of 1872, passed by the New

York State Legislature to appropriate money "to aid in

completing a survey of the Adirondack wilderness of

New York". Chapter 848 of the Laws of 1872 appointed

commissioners for two years to survey "the timber

regions lying within counties (of the Adirondack

region)", in order to convert the land into a public

park. The Superintendent of the State Land Survey was

empowered to conduct any surveys the State Comptroller

and the State Forestry Commission authorized to settle

disputed boundary titles. Periodic appropriations

were passed to continue the survey. Verplanck Colvin,

as Superintendent of the Adirondack Survey (later the

Superintendent of the State Land Survey), and his

assistants conducted the survey during the 1870s and

1890s.

Abstract: Most of the maps were created by Colvin and his staff

using their field notes compiled during the survey.

Primary delineators of the maps include Colvin and his

assistants: Thew, Francisco, Richards, LeFevre,

Hutchins, Tweedy, Blake, Snell, Wilson, and Locke.

Other delineators named on the maps are Stoddard,

Case, Arnold, Gere, Steele, Shaw, Averill, Johnson,

Vaughan, Broadwell, Cooper, Richard, Straug, Davis,

Jones, Anderson, Ward, Horsford, Burrus, Chase,

ITEM REPORT

 

Produced Tuesday, March 3, 2009 at 4:04 PM

 

Kellogg, Quirk, and Curtis.

Abstract: Land and features depicted on the maps cover areas in

Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, Herkimer, and Oneida

counties; Totten and Crossfield's and MaComb's

Purchase; Vrooman's Patent; and the Old Military

Tract. Since the majority are topographical or

cadastral maps, the maps typically show elements of

the natural and built environment (such as lakes,

rivers, ponds, mountains, roads, and railroads) as

well as names of property owners, lot numbers, and

pertinent landmarks used in land surveying.

Abstract: Of approximately 512 total maps present in this

series, 336 maps were selected for reformatting on

microfiche under a project sponsored by the National

Endowment for the Humanities. Most of those selected

are manuscript maps, with the exception of a few

annotated print maps of major importance to the

survey. The larger series also includes some

annotated copies of older maps. Overall, half of the

maps represented in the fiche are drawn on architects'

linen; the others are either on paper or paper lined

with cloth. A few maps are drawn on tracing paper.

Maps range in size from 9 x 11 inches to 31 x 61

inches; the majority of the maps are approximately 21

x 28 inches or smaller. Most of the maps are drawn

with color media, including graphite pencil, colored

pencil, ink, and water color.

Abstract: There appears to be no internal arrangement of the

maps. Occasionally, several related maps are grouped

together by a number which was assigned by staff of

the Department of Environmental Conservation at an

unknown date. These numbers have been retained in an

electronic index to the maps prepared by State

Archives staff. The database includes data elements

such as title, landmarks, delineator, date, size and

scale for each map.

Provenance note: This series was filmed as part of a cooperative

reformatting project with the Department of

Environmental Conservation, funded by a grant by the

National Endowment for the Humanities. The 336 maps

were selected by State Archives staff for inclusion in

the project from a group of 512 maps in custody of the

DEC. At the conclusion of the project, one set (337

fiche) was sent to the State Records Center for secure

storage (TL 105-96); one set (337 fiche) was reserved

at the State Archives as duplication copy.

Indexes: A database indexes maps by title, date, delineator,

county, and significant landmarks.

Legal citations: L. 1872, Ch. 733; L. 1872, Ch. 848.

Linking entry note: Agency record NYSV86-a369 describes the history and

functions of the Dept. of Environmental Conservation

resulting in creation of the records series.

Subject: Surveying--Public lands.

Subject: Parks--New York (State)

Subject: Conservationists.

Subject: Wilderness areas--New York (State)

Geographic terms: New York (State)

Geographic terms: Adirondack Park (N.Y.)

Geographic terms: Adirondack Forest Preserve (N.Y.)

Geographic terms: Adirondack Mountains (N.Y.)

Geographic terms: Essex County (N.Y.)

Geographic terms: Franklin County (N.Y.)

ITEM REPORT

 

Produced Tuesday, March 3, 2009 at 4:04 PM

 

Geographic terms: Hamilton County (N.Y.)

Geographic terms: Herkimer County (N.Y.)

Geographic terms: Oneida County (N.Y.)

Form/genre terms: Cadastral maps. aat

Form/genre terms: Topographic maps. aat

Form/genre terms: Microforms. aat

Function terms: Surveying public land. aat

Function terms: Mapping. aat

Function terms: Protecting environment. aat

Personal author: Colvin, Verplanck, 1847-1920.

Host item entry: (CStRLIN)NYSV86-a369

LOCATION: New York State Archives, Cultural Education Center,

Albany, NY

Electronic access: The State Archives has digitized a sample of maps from

this series, available here:

http://iarchives.nysed.gov/PubImageWeb/getCollectionIma

gesServlet?id=57498

 

ARCHIVES CALL NUMBER COPY MATERIAL LOCATION

1)B1405 1 PAPERRECDS SARASTACKS

 

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ArtMan & NGS Surveyor:

 

Thanks for the heads up on where to look for more info! Ugh, What I wouldn't do for a 1:1 scale copy of that progress sketch. I stopped by the library in Watertown today and (after taking care of an 11 year old library fine) found a copy of Colvin's report to the state legislature from 1879. Unfortunately every plate in it was crumbled beyond recognition. I did scan the "Division of Levels" pages listing the benchmark location descriptions though. (http://bm.digi.imap.cc)

 

Condition of Colvin's Report to the State Legislature at the Library: http://bm.digi.imap.cc/colvinreport.jpg

 

I'm going to see if I can get the field notes on microfiche/film through interlibrary loan. Might take some work as the local library doesn't list the state archives as one of it's interlibrary loan sources. I'll find out tomorrow. There doesn't seem (from the description posted) to be much of a index to the film but it should be an interesting read anyway.

 

If anyone else is looking for anything specific regarding Colvin or the Adirondack Survey let me know and I'll look once the film comes in.

 

Ric

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Ric,

I am part of a group known as the Colvin Crew. It is the goal of this organization to spread the word about a relatively obscure champion of the NYS Forest Preserve who was instrumental in the creation of the Adirondack Park. We perform recoveries "following in the footsteps of our namesake"

This link will bring you to our website.

This is the information you have been looking for I'm sure.

http://www.colvincrew.org/

We have a recovery set up for June!

 

If you have any questions let me know.

Todd

Edited by bullionhunter

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This is REALLY cool. I've been going up to the Adirondacks each summer for about the last 25 years. There are a good number of markers on the top of any number of small and large peaks in the area. Benchmarks on peaks gives me a great number of day hikes to take to enjoy great views AND do survey mark recovery. Looking forward to finding a few this August. Going to do some hikes in the Long Lake / Newcomb / Tupper Lake areas, along with Colden for my mom's ADK 46th.

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