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On Tuesday, May 19th, I went in search of bench mark disk M158, PID = PY0091 (CGS, 1960) in Yellowstone National Park, Park County, WY. The station is described as set in the top of a rock outcrop, 86 feet west of the west end of stone guardrail, and 18 feet south of the centerline of a road. I did not find the station; see: PY0091


However, seven feet west-southwest of the described stone guard rail, I found a one-half inch diameter stainless steel rod projecting two inches from a large rock. The rod has a rounded top and center-punch – similar to, if not identical to, the 200 or so rods that I’ve found under logo caps, except for its un-capped monumentation. The rod is stamped STEPHY. The odd rod is in neither the Geocaching nor NGS databases. I’ve searched the USGS, Cascades Volcano Observatory and Yellowstone Volcano Observatory web sites, but can find no info on the rod or the stamping STEPHY (unless, of course, the rod is some obscure tribute to Stephy Tang, lead singer for the Hong Kong pop group “Cookies”). But, I’m not particularly skilled at finding such info, nor am I overly motivated (that is, I am both stupid and lazy).






Rod STEPHY area - looking east


It’s certainly an odd rod and, given its proximity to the un-found PY0091 (which, I think, was destroyed when the road was widened), may be a geodetic control point.


Has anyone ever seen a rod monumented in such a manner?

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Although probably not significant, there is a nearby mystery station


PY0678 P 9


In the current NGS database.


Perhaps some preliminary reference to data not yet published?


Sure looks like a vertical monument to me, but a bit likely to be damaged.


- jlw

Edited by jwahl
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I am going to let everyone know just how strange this looks to me and why and just how strange "Tourists" are.


I live in Page, AZ. where we have tons of "Tourists" all the time. Tourists have been known to leave a memento of themselves behind, such as scratching their names and the dates they were here into the sandstone (this has been going on for centuries) or leaving caches behind ;);) or some such thing. So, what do you think the items in the next two photos are?





You have no clue? Well, maybe this next photo will clear the air, so to speak.













John used to smoke cigars and the STEPHY tube thingy sure looks real similar to one of the metal tubes that some fancy cigars come in. Or one that people spend lots of money for, like the fine silver ones in the above pictures.


Now, it would not surprise me to find out that a tourist wanted to leave something special in Yellowstone and left half of their cigar tube there. Just a bit of epoxy and they have left a memento of themselves behind. ;)



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Cigar tubes would usually be larger than 1/2 inch diameter. Most tourists don't carry rock drills and epoxy, and wouldn't risk being seen drilling in a park just to leave a strange memento.


Will, did you check whether it felt/sounded hollow or solid and whether it looked exactly like a center punch mark (ridge around dent) and lettering hand stamped, as opposed to machine production?


I think it is a survey mark, but whether it is geodetic or engineering project related is anybody's guess. Probably not cadastral.

Edited by Bill93
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A neat find, whatever it is. We would think about trying to reach somebody at the National Park Service, or in the park itself.


For a few minutes we indulged in a fantasy that you knew about Stephy Tang without having to consult Google.




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Thanks, all, for your observations.


The item in question looks exactly like the product illustrated by ArtMan (though I thought it was smaller in diameter than 3/4").


The stamping "STEPHY" appeared to be etched or ground, not field-stamped. The text is very well-aligned, shaped and spaced).


The object is (I'm 99 percent sure) stainless steel (thus negating the possibility that it was "stamped" and, thus, leading to my judgement that the "stamping" was etched or ground).


The object appeared to be (felt) solid or, at least, relatively thick-walled (though I used neither hammer nor vise-grips to test this judgement.


I suspect that it is a geodetic control point, owned by the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory of the USGS & University of Utah.


m&h - what makes you think I didn't??



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I hadn't noticed that you were back west again. You just can't sit still, can you.


I have a crew working less than a mile from that monument location, as I type. We are working construction control for approximately 3 miles of the park road from the picnic area just south of Gibbon Falls to the northeast for the 3 miles. I just checked the Federal Highways Control for that area and that point is not located in the file, neither is PY0091; so they probably never found that bench mark while running control for the park.


That is definitely a stainless rod top and would not have been possible to stamp in place; I haven't had good luck trying to put a dimple in the top on the smooth topped rods. Those rods are extremely hard!


I think you are probably right about one of the seismic groups having placed the mark.


I will be talking to you soon about a rendezvous in September in DC, I have my tickets.



Edited by CallawayMT
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Here is a response that was just sent to me by our NGS Wyoming Geodetic Coordinator.




"I installed this stainless steel rod in 2004 as a replacement for M158,

which had been destroyed by road work. The new mark was observed as part

of a re-leveling survey along Park roads between Madison-Norris-Canyon in

September 2004. We designed this type of mark for use in wilderness areas

such as Three Sisters, where we were asked by USFS to keep our footprint

to a bare minimum. The design will accommodate both leveling and GPS

observations (note center punch). This type of mark was used only to

replace a few destroyed marks in Yellowstone. We expect to have a

searchable database of all known (by me) leveling marks in the Park

on-line by the end of this year. I can provide a preliminary version on

CD-ROM if that would be useful. [Dz]"



Dr. Daniel Dzurisin

U.S. Geological Survey

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....I think it is a survey mark, but whether it is geodetic or engineering project related is anybody's guess. Probably not cadastral.


Given the odds of some kid climbing on those rocks and falling on that rod I would think it's a horrid location for a marker that sticks up 2".


While I'm sure the 2" serves some purpose, I see it as bad practice unless you recess it. Which would defeat the purpose of having it rasied 2" and as was noted in the responce would have a larger "eco" (meaning visual in this case) footprint.

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