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TillaMurphs

Gold-colored USGS disks.

48 posts in this topic

We recovered one of the USGS gold-colored disks yesterday and would like to know more about them. The one we ran into was set in 1924 and it is still incredibly bright. There was no hint of corrosion.

 

About a year-and-a-half ago m&h started a very good thread on this subject here: Metallurgy?

 

However, at that time there did not seem to be a definitive answer on the metallurgy of these disks.

 

We looked in GeorgeL's excellent paper (Bottles, Pots, Pans...) and did not find anything.

 

We wanted to run this up the flagpole again to see if there are any more ideas?

 

In our area, many of these were set in 1913 and 1924. Besides the pictures previously posted by TheBeanTeam and MegaScooter in m&h’s original thread, here are a few others from Oregon (photos are not ours).

 

QE0391:

d422ad72-e809-4174-b19d-af8cac79fb5a.jpg

 

QE0696:

287c5ecc-87d4-46b5-becb-62f76e636756.jpg

 

RD0298

eefdc061-571a-4eb6-a7f0-9b02156bf9c9.jpg

 

RD0322

3f2ac701-417e-445c-9e63-c24f788bf8a2.jpg

Edited by TillaMurphs
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I still think it's Aluminum Bronze.

 

These disks are old but the Berntsen company might happen to know.

 

By the way, I just noticed their cool benchmark disk catalog here. Be sure to click on their Design Groups dropdown menu!

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I've been getting survey markers from Berntsen for nearly 20 years. Starting about 6 years ago, they have been using my disk in their advertising. Holt Survey Associates

I wonder if I should be getting royalties - or just enjoy the free publicity!

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I still think it's Aluminum Bronze.

I occasionally use Aluminum Bronze at work. In some ways it does not look like the disks - but in other ways it does.

 

The color I saw on the disk was definitely more yellowish than the darker color I have seen on known Aluminum Bronze parts. However, maybe different proportions could be the cause of that?

 

In the first photo I posted it looks like someone might have buffed the disk. That photo does resemble freshly polished aluminum bronze that I have seen.

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I agree about the aluminum bronze. Most of it tarnishes in some way and looks like junk, well actually they look about like the Primore disk in your second to last picture. Most of the gold ones though have a surprising shine to them that just seems unreal. I doubt the people who set those would imagine how bright they look after a hundred years out in the weather. As you say though, alloys seem to have a million combinations, sometimes with surprising results, like Wood's metal and those new super-powerful magnets they're selling these days.

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Looking at posted photos, the only commonality I see is the monumenting agency. All except one are USGS.

 

PID--MONUM-AGENCY-STATE

 

O0158 1928 USGS UT

FS0434 1920 USGS AZ

FR0677 1920 USGS AZ

JW0886 1923 USGS WV

HW3569 1956 USGS WV

RB0493 1925 USGS OR

QE0391 1913 USGS OR

QE0696 1913 USGS OR

RD0298 1913 USGS OR

RD0322 1913 USGS OR

RD0904 1924 USGS OR

RD0910 1924 USGS OR

QE0483 1913 USGS OR

RD1710 1924 USGS OR

QD1020 1926 B.P.R. OR

_none_ 1923 USGS MO

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The only one I recall having seen is DT0715 ESCUDILLA], a USGS disk monumented in 1932 or 1934:

Interesting mark southpawaz. It is monumented by the USGS but stamped USC&GS.

 

Maybe USGS set it but USC&GS claimed it later the same year, or??

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The only one I recall having seen is DT0715 ESCUDILLA], a USGS disk monumented in 1932 or 1934:

Interesting mark southpawaz. It is monumented by the USGS but stamped USC&GS.

 

Maybe USGS set it but USC&GS claimed it later the same year, or??

 

It looks to me like the USGS set it in 1932 (? hard to read the small date below), then the C&GS "adopted" it in 1934. The reference marks are C&GS disks stamped ESCUDILLA USGS 1934.

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It looks to me like the USGS set it in 1932 (? hard to read the small date below), then the C&GS "adopted" it in 1934. The reference marks are C&GS disks stamped ESCUDILLA USGS 1934.

OK, that makes sense. I assumed that small stamping was 1934 also. Now that I look at it carefully it does look like 1932.

Edited by TillaMurphs
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2c12f7ec-a96d-476c-b974-8da81c81842c.jpg

 

Here is the first one we found that made a big impression on me. It looked as though it had been polished to this beautiful, bright golden color.

 

Here is the boulder it is set in.

d23a6a78-d583-4fdf-be9f-8114976a02c6.jpg

 

HO0158 in Zion National Park.

 

Shirley~

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Interesting that all but the West Virginia one are from the 1920's or earlier.

The WV one gets a ton of rough treatment since it is in part of a gravel walkway to a popular observation tower, but it still can shine. Perhaps the WV one was in a drawer or box for 30 years before it was used.

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I like the one 2OF found, "Cooperation with the State". I haven't seen one of those in the wild yet.

 

Me.

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Not as pretty as others posted, but here's one I found while looking for HW0240:

bd371d76-8d06-424b-b527-5fa52668fb37.jpg

T.T. STA. NO. 16-K 1927 (Transit Traverse Station Number 16-K)

 

I'd say this can be traced back to a single manufacturer supplying disks to the USGS.

(Gotta wonder what chemistry they used).

 

Side note:

Why the CGS set their own mark 60 feet away, about 6 feet lower and just 15 years later eludes me. :D

~ Mitch ~

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Ooo – more gold – thanks for the new photos.

 

Here is an updated list of the gold disks. With one exception the dates were between 1913 and 1934 and with one exception they were USGS. Many were traverse disks. Given the spread across the country and across the years they obviously weren’t an anomaly.

Someone must know their origin/material. Are there any USGS experts that visit our forum? Is there a USGS database?

 

  ID	   MON   AGENCY  STATE
QE0391	1913	USGS	OR
QE0483	1913	USGS	OR
QE0696	1913	USGS	OR
RD0298	1913	USGS	OR
RD0322	1913	USGS	OR
FR0677	1920	USGS	AZ
FS0434	1920	USGS	AZ
GA1136	1920	USGS	VA
1923 B	1923	USGS	MO
JW0886	1923	USGS	WV
RD0904	1924	USGS	OR
RD0910	1924	USGS	OR
RD1710	1924	USGS	OR
RB0493	1925	USGS	OR
QD1020	1926	BPR	 OR
16 - k	1927	USGS	VA
HO0158	1928	USGS	UT
DT0715	1934	USGS	AZ
HW3569	1956	USGS	WV

 

Here is the one we found last weekend (previously found by MegaScooter). Amazing shape for 86 years old. It is not even in a protected area.

RD0910

2f44184f-bf49-4638-8b1f-674ebba1a314.jpg

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Maybe Aich's metal?

 

Here is a description from an 1888 metallurgy book: The Metallic Alloys: A Practical Guide for the Manufacture of all Kinds of Alloys, Amalgams, and Solders, Used by Metal-Workers; Together with their Chemical and Physical Properties and their Application in the Arts and the Industries; with an Appendix on the Coloring of Alloys. (They really knew how to write book titles in the old days!)

 

Aich's metal. -- This alloy, named after its inventor, consists of a brass to which a considerable degree of tenacity has been imparted by an addition of iron. It is especially adapted for purposes where the use of a hard, and at the same time, tenacious metal is required.

 

According to analyses of various kinds of this metal, it shows, like other alloys, considerable variations in the quantity of the metals used in its preparation. Even the content of iron to which the hardening effect must be ascribed may vary within wide limits without the tenacity, which is the principal property of this alloy, being modified to a considerable extent .

 

The best alloy, which can be called an Aich's metal, is composed of copper 60 parts, zinc 38.2, iron 1.8. The content of iron must be limited to from 0.4 to 3.0 per cent. Another Aich's metal showing excellent properties is composed of copper 60.2 parts, zinc 38.2, iron 1.6.

 

The chief property of Aich's metal is its hardness, which is claimed to be not inferior to that of certain kinds of steel.
It has a beautiful golden yellow color
and is said to oxidize with difficulty, which makes it of great value for articles exposed to the action of air and water.

 

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Great article on Aich's metal Hologragh.

 

Here are my finds that I remember

 

QE0492 in Dallas Oregon

 

69b60225-d74b-429a-b067-2e0d0ccca383.jpg

 

RB0493 in Pendleton Oregon

 

3984c766-3fd2-45b3-9bee-1b635ea54762.jpg823c993b-eac2-4632-ac7d-24e1a1d8680b.jpg

 

RD0847 Another that Mega Scooter found before someone. Seems to be a theme here. ;) This one in McMinnville Oregon.

 

85b408aa-936c-42da-938b-1d2c9beb7bf0.jpg

 

edit to fix links and add another photo

Edited by TheBeanTeam
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Seems to be a theme here. ;)
Indeed... Here's two more to add.

HW0098 Found by Artman and BDT.

b4449296-ab75-4862-9d17-d5b95690a433.jpg

 

HW0612 Found by Cooke17513 and Garman

e1cd63a4-3326-44c4-a4c7-6f5aefe49c95.jpg

 

I've seen some more logged around Skyline Drive, which I'll add later.

And some very nice detective work there Holograph!

~ Mitch ~

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Good digging Holograph. Interesting metal; and it sure sounds like a good possibility. It seems to have been popular towards the turn of the last century and that also fits. There does not seem to be a lot of newer information on it.

 

OK, now we need someone with a mass spectrometer. Anybody? ;)

 

We better look for photos of Mega Scooter to see if he is a leprechaun. Look at the amount of gold he has found:

 

  ID	   MON   AGENCY  STATE	FINDER		   COUNTY
QE0391	1913	USGS	OR	riverwood		 Marion
QE0483	1913	USGS	OR	Mega Scooter	  Polk
QE0492	1913	USGS	OR	TheBeanTeam	   Polk
QE0696	1913	USGS	OR	PDXJim			Polk
RD0298	1913	USGS	OR	Rose Red		  Marion
RD0322	1913	USGS	OR	AkNoT			 Washington
FR0677	1920	USGS	AZ	2oldfarts		 Mohave
FS0434	1920	USGS	AZ	2oldfarts		 Mohave
GA1136	1920	USGS	VA	Harry Dolphin	 Wise
1923 B	1923	USGS	MO	GEO*Trailblazer1  Barry
JW0886	1923	USGS	WV	89SC			  Monongalia
RD0847	1924	USGS	OR	Mega Scooter	  Yamhill
RD0904	1924	USGS	OR	Mega Scooter	  Yamhill
RD0910	1924	USGS	OR	Mega Scooter	  Yamhill
RD1710	1924	USGS	OR	Mega Scooter	  Polk
RB0493	1925	USGS	OR	TheBeanTeam	   Umatilla
QD1020	1926	BPR	 OR	m&h			   Deschutes
16 - k	1927	USGS	VA	Difficult Run	 Page
HW0098	1927	USGS	VA	BlackDogTracker   Rappahannock
HO0158	1928	USGS	UT	2oldfarts		 Washington
HW0612	1928	USGS	VA	Garman			Greene
DT0715	1934	USGS	AZ	southpawaz		Apache
HW3569	1956	USGS	WV	BlackDogTrackers  Pendleton

 

If any of you run across more gold finds, post ‘em here and I will update the list. So far, Oregon is well in the lead with Virginia in second place and Arizona third.

 

Thanks for the photos.

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Add these three in Montana to the list. None of these are my finds. KayakBird asked me to pass them on since he's out on the road right now.

 

348c1daa-0bb8-4120-b5c2-0043efe4e1f4.jpg

http://www.geocaching.com/mark/details.aspx?PID=RV0045

Looks like it was set yesterday.

 

947fdfeb-697e-412a-8342-fa3d5dfeacad.jpg

http://www.geocaching.com/mark/details.aspx?PID=rv0090

There may be some tarnish/dimming reaction to cow manure!

 

44a7776c-da5c-40ee-93ee-febffb74c838.jpg

http://www.geocaching.com/mark/details.aspx?PID=RV0105

Boy Scout camp damage? Also found by CallawayMT.

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OK – I guess we know who the real leprechauns are:

 

  ID	   MON	AGENCY STATE	FINDER
QE0391	1913	USGS	OR	riverwood
QE0483	1913	USGS	OR	Mega Scooter
QE0492	1913	USGS	OR	TheBeanTeam
QE0696	1913	USGS	OR	PDXJim
RD0298	1913	USGS	OR	Rose Red
RD0322	1913	USGS	OR	AkNoT
RV0045	1916	USGS	MT	kayakbird
RV0090	1916	USGS	MT	kayakbird
RV0105	1916	USGS	MT	CallawayMT
FR0529	1920	USGS	AZ	2oldfarts
FR0670	1920	USGS	AZ	2oldfarts
FR0677	1920	USGS	AZ	2oldfarts
FS0434	1920	USGS	AZ	2oldfarts
GA1136	1920	USGS	VA	Harry Dolphin
1923 B	1923	USGS	MO	GEO*Trailblazer 1
JW0886	1923	USGS	WV	89SC
RD0847	1924	USGS	OR	Mega Scooter
RD0904	1924	USGS	OR	Mega Scooter
RD0910	1924	USGS	OR	Mega Scooter
RD1710	1924	USGS	OR	Mega Scooter
RB0493	1925	USGS	OR	TheBeanTeam
QD1020	1926	BPR	 OR	m&h
16 - k	1927	USGS	VA	Difficult Run
HW0098	1927	USGS	VA	BlackDogTrackers
HO0158	1928	USGS	UT	2oldfarts
HO0197	1928	USGS	UT	2oldfarts
HO0208	1928	USGS	UT	2oldfarts
HO0210	1928	USGS	UT	2oldfarts
HO0213	1928	USGS	UT	2oldfarts
HO0214	1928	USGS	UT	2oldfarts
HO0215	1928	USGS	UT	2oldfarts
HW0612	1928	USGS	VA	Garman
CS3958	1930	USGS	AZ	AZcachemeister
HO0151	1931	USGS	UT	2oldfarts
HO0154	1931	USGS	UT	2oldfarts
GP0229	1933	USGS	AZ	2oldfarts
GQ0335	1933	USGS	AZ	2oldfarts
GQ0288	1933?   USGS	AZ	2oldfarts
DT0715	1934	USGS	AZ	southpawaz
HW3569	1956	USGS	WV	BlackDogTrackers

 

There may be some tarnish/dimming reaction to cow manure!

Okie'sKid - Great Idea! Cow Poop Chemical Analysis! This should help narrow down the metallurgical composition. :ph34r:

 

Thanks

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Okie'sKid - Great Idea! Cow Poop Chemical Analysis! This should help narrow down the metallurgical composition. :D

 

:ph34r::ph34r:

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Okie'sKid - Great Idea! Cow Poop Chemical Analysis! This should help narrow down the metallurgical composition. :D

 

:ph34r::D

 

Great now I have to add another item to my benchmarking kit. :ph34r:

 

Anyhow, I did find another in Cottage Grove OR. 640=B 11

 

691af74f-77d0-4726-b839-f8d1237059f7.jpg

 

I have several others that are not from the same era that are gold in appearance but this one was pressure washed for sure based on earlier photos from previous finders.

 

I suspect another gold one in my gallery was cleaned during bridge restoration but this one in Bend also looks bright and has for years based on the photos from 2002 until now. It is the same style as the other.

 

As an interesting side note all of the Lane County Public Works disks that I have found do not appear to patina over the years. I have found many and not one appears to have discolored.

 

d7d67fc0-52f6-43eb-8165-472e82cd7d37.jpg

 

Oh and here is another bright gold one in McMinnville.....but it isn't what were looking for I don't think.

 

60f38a3c-b932-411e-bdf3-674042f2f6c9.jpg

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Here are a few found by Volcanoguy.

 

NY0629 Waymarking

NY0629 Geocaching

 

NZ0860 Waymarking

NZ0860 Geocaching

 

PB0231 Waymarking

PB0231 Geocaching

 

PB0225 - USCGS V 62 Waymarking

PB0225 - USCGS V 62 Geocaching

 

PB0218 - USGS M315 Waymarking

PB0218 - USGS M315 Geocaching

 

A different agency but made of the same stuff it looks like. None of these are listed in the Geocaching database.

 

USDA FS 4256

 

USFS L 1929

 

USFS J

 

USFS F1

 

USFS F4

 

USFS 5

 

USGS F8

 

USGS F10

 

USDA FS C-1

 

USFS A1 G

 

USFS 6

 

USFS 7

 

USFS 8

 

USFS 6A

 

USFS SS 2

 

And this is just the start. He has many more featured but I am out of time. :unsure:

 

Edit to fix links

Edited by TheBeanTeam
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Here's a nice one from Wilson, NC.

5ed0ac2e-b1fe-49ae-ae5a-a486e81d3260.jpg

EY0879 was confusing in some respects, and others (notably PFF) believe the disk corresponds to EY0880, the reset. I'm still not entirely convinced.

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Here's a nice one from Wilson, NC.

EY0879 was confusing in some respects, and others (notably PFF) believe the disk corresponds to EY0880, the reset. I'm still not entirely convinced.

 

I'm going to venture out on a limb here and say, after reading both DSs and looking at the pix, this BM is EY0879. Maybe EY0880 should be added to the "NGS Typos" thread. Or, maybe 0880 is just plain bogus.

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AZchachemeister, Your old gold Reference Mark is outstanding. Please excuse me while I blush with envy.

 

ArtMan,

The Data Sheet says that the Stamping for EY0879 is “REESTABLISHED 1923”. The Data Sheet for EY0880 says the Stamping is “145 RALEIGH” (It says it in two places). Wouldn’t the RESET stamping say “145 RALEIGH RESET”? I’m thinking EY0879 was originally stamped “145 RALEIGH” and the reset (EY0880) was stamped “REESTABLISHED 1932”. Of course for that to be true, both Data Sheets would have to be in error. I guess that puts me in PPF’s camp. Clearly something is in error. It would be nice to see the original 1923 Data Sheet.

 

—MS

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Okay. Now I have a headache! Yes.

The Data Sheet says that the Stamping for EY0879 is “REESTABLISHED 1923”.
Presumably in 1935 when NGS added the USGS mark to its data base. EY0880 was added to the data base in 1942. I'd guess that the 1942 people didn't realize that the 1935 people had already added it. Human error on the part of the 1942 not to mention 'reestablished 1923'?

My non-professional opinion? EY8079 was monumented first, and had the correct designation. EY0880 is a duplicate listing. I vote for EY0879.

Edited by Harry Dolphin
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Here is another BPR USDA Goldie from 1928. My unstamped NONPID found on Kings Hill Tuesday matches the factory lettering.

 

30061_100.jpg

OX0228

 

Yes; I'm caught up with NGS recoveries, mudded out of the Missouri Breaks and bored in Lewistown, MT. MEL

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Just back from a pleasant early morning hike up a sparse creosote hillside north of NM 9 about three miles east of Antelope.

Maybe it was the low sun angle, but the slightly raised center of this Tri station

 

USGS PLAYAS

2ece8843-f68a-4e4f-ad02-36ed2f348306.jpg

 

seemed unusual. Scrolling though the other attached photos above it looks like if it was

cast with 'datum' below the triangle the center is raised. kayakbird

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Mel,

 

Nice recovery. You always come up with something unusual. Did you notice the scribing in the concrete around the base of the disk? I wonder what that is all about?

 

Gary

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Thanks for resurrecting this thread. It gives me a chance to mention that we did come to a conclusion on the composition of the gold disks. On 29-April-2010, Bill93 posted a thread with a link to a Jerry Penry post on another forum that confirmed that these are aluminum bronze as Black Dog Trackers correctly surmised. Here is a link to the Jerry Penry post: Aluminum Bronze disks

 

kayakbird,

 

Nice unique find. Was that disk truly gold (like the others above) or did it just weather to a yellow-gold patina? The surface looks a lot rougher than the aluminum bronze disks in the photos above.

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Mel,

 

Nice recovery. You always come up with something unusual. Did you notice the scribing in the concrete around the base of the disk? I wonder what that is all about?

 

Gary

 

Gary,

 

I did not see that!! It may be initials with a 1917, since it is one of the few USGS from that area that is dated. Almost worth a drive back from Rodeo after dark, but already worked every thing along that highway - Border Patrol has made it easy to stay out of traffic with their track roads right on the ROW fence.

 

TillaMurphs '---yellow-gold patina?' I thought it was the standard 'Golden Oldie' but maybe some windblown mineral laden dust reaction with morning dew.

 

Mike

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I see the post from TillaMurphs in January of 2012 confirming that these are aluminum bronze. Too bad, though, I was going to offer to run it through the mass spec if someone could get their hands on a small sample. Having a chemistry degree comes in handy from time to time....

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Mel,

 

Nice recovery. You always come up with something unusual. Did you notice the scribing in the concrete around the base of the disk? I wonder what that is all about?

 

Gary

 

Gary & all,

 

A revisit to this one has been way down in the bucket, not even in the warming oven (much less the back burner) until the current thread encouraged me to extend my winter birding trip in to New Mexico.

 

Hidalgo County Playas

 

33241290-54e1-47b6-83ca-4008184f643d.jpg

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Mel,

 

Nice recovery. You always come up with something unusual. Did you notice the scribing in the concrete around the base of the disk? I wonder what that is all about?

 

Gary

 

Gary & all,

 

A revisit to this one has been way down in the bucket, not even in the warming oven (much less the back burner) until the current thread encouraged me to extend my winter birding trip in to New Mexico.

 

Hidalgo County Playas

 

 

kayakbird,

 

You have a great memory! Congrats on following up.

 

USHMT. Hmmmmmm?

Edited by TillaMurphs
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Some of those disks posted in this thread look really amazing, I am jealous. May have found something like this in OK but would have to go back and look at the photos. Thanks for sharing all these.

Ron

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8b1b238b-f540-4cc1-8515-e17330dba8c3.jpg

 

Back in the neighborhood today. Remembered finding this benchmark eight years ago. Double checked to see in anyone else had found it. And I realized that it is gold colored. The one reference disk I found is not gold colored.

 

LY0635

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Harry & All,

 

I noticed that yours is a CGS disk - I believe that all the rest in this thread are USGS and from a much earlier era (OTM). kayakbird

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I think this is the oldest one in this thread so far:

 

18801330-7688-47f7-84ef-2461265dbf33.jpg

 

TU0100

 

Still holding up well despite the vog near the caldera

 

Here is the profile:

 

e37a46bb-0e05-4fd0-97de-f5c9f5c7649c.jpg

 

Note that the "state" (in cooperation with) was not a state at that time and would not become so until 1959!

 

It is in the top of an interesting monument:

 

9ddf3790-d59f-45a8-8b37-85c07207cf28.jpg

 

There is no documentation about the monument although the NPS speculates that it is related to the completion of a road from Pahala to the Volcano House Hotel

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Turns out I beat my last "earliest" of this disk type while on the same trip:

 

ebfa12e5-bf0f-4fe6-bde9-01a6eeacb26a.jpg

 

TU0030

 

is dated 1910. It was just a little too shaky out there for me to try and clean off this battered disk (I like my camera and didn't want it to wind up in the Pacific)

Actually, it is surprising to me that the thing is there at all having survived multiple tsunamis including the catastrophic 146 and 1960 tidal waves.

 

Here is a photo that shows the date and the elevation (5.83) that I took from another log and processed:

4c94f32c-2493-4bd1-ba11-76d45f1b0953.jpg

 

photo credit: psubrian

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The U.S. Lake Survey also used a metal that could maintain a beautiful gold color. I found this Azimuth reference mark that hadn't been visited since it was set in 1935. It looks absolutely pristine and the gold color was amazingly bright in the spring sunlight.

 

5kHZM8x.jpg

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