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TillaMurphs

“Highway Stations” and Survey Stations”

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On a recent Benchmarking vacation, we ran across two datasheet terms we have never seen before. “Highway Station” and “Survey Station”. Can you shed some light on these two terms?

 

- On PA0350 we ran into a 1951 description mentioning the “Highway Station” as a reference item. We found the mark. On each side of the highway we saw a post that looked like this:

385081539.jpg

 

Up close, this is what the 2 posts had on them:

385081536.jpg

By coincidence or not, we found the mark on a line directly between these 2 posts. So, what is a Highway Station?

1/1/1951 by NGS (GOOD) 
DESCRIBED BY NATIONAL GEODETIC SURVEY 1951 15 MI SW FROM BURNS. ABOUT 15 MILES SOUTHWEST ALONG THE CENTRAL OREGON HIGHWAY (U.S. 20) FROM BURNS, HARNEY COUNTY, AND 50 FEET SOUTH OF HIGHWAY STATION 995+77.25. AN OREGON STATE HIGHWAY DEPARTMENT STANDARD DISK, STAMPED J 443 AND SET IN THE TOP OF A CONCRETE POST. 

 

 

- On PA0473 we ran into a 1903 description that mentioned a “Survey Station”. We could not find the mark or the Survey Station. What is a Survey Station and what should we have looked for?

1/1/1903 by USGS (MONUMENTED) 
DESCRIBED BY US GEOLOGICAL SURVEY 1903 6.2 MI E FROM OAKERMAN RANCH. 6.2 MILES EAST ALONG THE OLD BEND-BURNS ROAD FROM OAKERMAN RANCH, HARNEY COUNTY, 90 FEET NORTH OF SURVEY STATION 5824+20 ON THE CENTRAL OREGON HIGHWAY (U.S. 20), JUST WEST OF A SMALL SUMMIT, AND 20 FEET SOUTH OF THE OLD STAGE ROAD. A UNITED STATES GEOLOGICAL SURVEY STANDARD CAP, STAMPED 4453 H 1903 AND RIVETED ON THE TOP OF A 3-1/2-INCH IRON PIPE ENCASED IN CONCRETE. 

Thanks

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Briefly, stationing is a system of measurement used for road layout and construction. An arbitrary starting point is designated at the start of the roadway project as the beginning station, and all distances along the roadway centerline are measured from that point. Here in the US 100 foot stationing is used. The number to the left of the + is how many 100 foot stations you are from the beginning station and the number to the right of the + is your distance beyond that full station. So the signs you found are 995*100 + 77.25 or 99577.25 feet from the beginning of the project.

 

Stationing usually runs from west to east on a road in that direction, and south to north on a road in that direction. The 100.00 RT and 100.00 LT indicates distance to the right and left, respectively, perpendicular from the centerline, when you are facing the direction in which the stationing is increasing.

 

I'm not sure but I would guess that the older reference to Survey Station is the something similar.

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From NGS' GEODETIC GLOSSARY (not on-line):

 

Survey Station - (1) A point at which or from which observations have been made for a geodetic survey.

(2) A definite point, on the Earth, whose location has been determined by geodetic surveying.

(3) A point, on a traverse, over which an instrument is placed (a setup).

(4) On a traverse, a length of 100 feet measured on a given broken, straight, or curved line.

(5) A stake indicating one end of a 100-foot-long interval on a traverse.

The nature of a survey station is usually indicated by adding a term that describes the station's origin or purpose, for example, triangulation station, topographic station, or magnetic station. A survey station may or may not be marked on the ground. If it is, a geodetic marker (monument) of special construction, or a natural or already present artificial structure is often used to mark the station.

 

GeorgeL

NGS

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southpawaz, NGS Surveyor and Z15,

 

Thank your for the helpful information. I think I now have the Highway Station figured out. It all fits nicely with what we saw at PA0350.

 

Regarding George’s definitions for the Survey Station, it appears that definition 4 or 5 would apply in the case of PA0473 and we must be looking for some kind of unknown monument. However, it is a bit puzzling that the 1903 description for PA0473 mentions the “Central Oregon Highway (U.S 20)”. I would think that 1903 was too early for a “highway”. It is as if someone from a later time added information to the 1903 description.

 

As always - Thank You for the education, gentlemen.

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You may find station numbers that are just imprinted into asphalt when a roadway has been resurfaced. One of the more "fun" jobs I had as an engineer assistant many years ago was laying out the stationing on a resurfacing job along interstate 70 near St. Elmo IL when we were putting asphalt over the top of the original concrete. I was given a bucket with solvent and a bunch of big brass numbers. At the start of the day the engineer determined what the first station was and marked it for me. I then laid out the numbers for the station (like above something like 105 + 50) down on the newly laid asphalt. I would back away - the roller would come along and press the numbers into the pavement while compacting and leveling out the asphat. After that I got the job of prying out the numbers, cleaning them up, draging the bucket, numbers and tools 50' or 100' down the road as I used a measuring wheel to figure out the distance. When I got the prescribed distance down the road I figured out the new station - laid out the numbers and started out all over again. Makes for a long day in 95+ degrees sunlight and even hotter asphalt.

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I don't put much stock in highway stations--I have only found a few that were still relevant to the search for a mark.

However, I DO have a theory about your mark (PA0473) which doesn't pertain to the "survey station".

 

First, the idea of the stage road intrigued me. There was no evidence of it near the Bend-Burns Rd in the aerial photo on Google Earth, but I couldn't expect it to still exist. Then I saw that a similar mark, PA0475, was found by the Tillamurphs. It also mentions the stage road, and the Tillamurphs found the old road. I was able to follow the stage road on Google Earth. Surprisingly, it went west, not northwest to follow the Bend-Burns Road. So something has to be wrong in the description, or in our interpretation of the description. I followed the stage road west and it sort of paralleled current U.S. 20. The description mentions U.S. 20 very specifically. So I overlaid a topo map on GE and sure enough, there is a B.M. directly south of the coordinates of PA0473. The elevation is close-3 feet off, but so is the elevation of PA0475. And sure enough, the stage road seems to run just north of the highway at this point. Maybe the OLD Bend-Burns Rd IS the stage road, and the current Bend-Burns Rd is the NEW Bend-Burns Rd?

 

Tillamurphs, I see you referenced a copy of Spirit Leveling in Oregon. I can't find it online so I can't look but I bet you can find that mark and its original description in that book.

 

And the description is certainly too new for 1903. Sometimes old descriptions make it into the database under the original monumentation date but with a newer description from field work done after the mark was set, without showing the date of the recovery.

 

That is the theory that I have, and which is mine, and what it is too. (for you Monty Python fans)

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southpawaz, NGS Surveyor and Z15,

 

Thank your for the helpful information. I think I now have the Highway Station figured out. It all fits nicely with what we saw at PA0350.

 

Regarding George’s definitions for the Survey Station, it appears that definition 4 or 5 would apply in the case of PA0473 and we must be looking for some kind of unknown monument. However, it is a bit puzzling that the 1903 description for PA0473 mentions the “Central Oregon Highway (U.S 20)”. I would think that 1903 was too early for a “highway”. It is as if someone from a later time added information to the 1903 description.

 

As always - Thank You for the education, gentlemen.

 

TillaMurphs,

 

If you are using the USGS Leveling book, then at the beginning of the section for that particular bench mark, there should be a lead in section which shows which quad they were leveling on. You can go to this website and possibly download the correct historic quad: Oregon Historic Quads

 

These originals are very helpful to see where the roads, junctions and various features were compared to now. You can take the image and reference it onto google earth and usually get yourself in the correct area. If you find the quad from around 1900, it will clearly show the BM X positions for the leveling book bench marks.

 

Kurt

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The coordinates for elevation benchmarks were scaled in the 1960's, using the descriptions often written decades earlier. I have seen multiple instances of a road being rerouted over the years and the scaled coordinates falling on a newer road than existed at the time the description was written.

 

In one case, a highway that originally went through town has been re-routed twice, first to the edge of town and then as a limited-access bypass, so it is about a mile from the mark location to the coordinates, and another mile to the current highway bearing that number.

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There is a case in PA with the situation mentioned by Bill93. Benchmarks were set along the highway, but then the highway was rerouted when the original road was flooded by a lake. Coordinates for the benchmarks affected are given as if they were set along the new alignment of the highway, whereas most of the marks are actually underwater along the old route.

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TillaMurphs,

 

If you are using the USGS Leveling book, then at the beginning of the section for that particular bench mark, there should be a lead in section which shows which quad they were leveling on. You can go to this website and possibly download the correct historic quad: Oregon Historic Quads

 

These originals are very helpful to see where the roads, junctions and various features were compared to now. You can take the image and reference it onto Google Earth and usually get yourself in the correct area. If you find the quad from around 1900, it will clearly show the BM X positions for the leveling book bench marks.

 

Kurt

CallawayMT,

 

Great idea. There are some very nice maps on your link that I can use in the future. Unfortunately none of them covered this particular part of Oregon. I also checked the University of Alabama collection but it also is lacking coverage of this area.

 

The best historical map I could find anywhere was a 1883 US Surveyor-General’s Office map. Of course it did not have BMs but it did show the “Willamette Valley and Cascade Mountain Wagon Road”.

 

... I DO have a theory about your mark (PA0473) which doesn't pertain to the "survey station".

 

First, the idea of the stage road intrigued me. There was no evidence of it near the Bend-Burns Rd in the aerial photo on Google Earth, but I couldn't expect it to still exist. Then I saw that a similar mark, PA0475, was found by the Tillamurphs. It also mentions the stage road, and the Tillamurphs found the old road. I was able to follow the stage road on Google Earth. Surprisingly, it went west, not northwest to follow the Bend-Burns Road. So something has to be wrong in the description, or in our interpretation of the description. I followed the stage road west and it sort of paralleled current U.S. 20. The description mentions U.S. 20 very specifically. So I overlaid a topo map on GE and sure enough, there is a B.M. directly south of the coordinates of PA0473. The elevation is close-3 feet off, but so is the elevation of PA0475. And sure enough, the stage road seems to run just north of the highway at this point. Maybe the OLD Bend-Burns Rd IS the stage road, and the current Bend-Burns Rd is the NEW Bend-Burns Rd?

mloser (with backup support from Bill93 and Shorbird),

 

I really like your idea! I took the location of the BM on your topo and overlaid it and the current Highway 20 and our find of PA0474 over the 1883 US Surveyor-General’s Office map showing a wagon road. Here it is. Your topo BM mark aligns closely with the road as you thought. Also, the wagon road approximately lines up with both PA0474 and PA0472.

When I overlaid that old map on Google Earth I could pick out what appears to be bits and pieces of the wagon road on the Google Earth imagery.

 

...the description is certainly too new for 1903. Sometimes old descriptions make it into the database under the original monumentation date but with a newer description from field work done after the mark was set, without showing the date of the recovery.

I hate it when they do that.

 

 

Tillamurphs, I see you referenced a copy of Spirit Leveling in Oregon. I can't find it online so I can't look but I bet you can find that mark and its original description in that book.

 

Yes – I am not sure how you knew I had that 1914 book but I bought a softcover online for $7.00 (shipped!) My favorite purchase of the year thus far. (I also eventually found a digital copy online).

 

Here is what it had to say about what I think is PA0473 and the adjacent marks. The 1914 updated elevations are in parentheses and I added PIDs in the square brackets:

 

....... BURNS QUADRANGLE

--Latitude 43° 30'-44° ; longitude 119°-119° 30'.--

 

From Burns along Stage Road at Riley.

 

- Burns, 19.2 miles west of, 30 feet north of road; iron post stamped "4552 H" (4,560.877) [PA0475]

 

- Burns, 21.9 miles west of, 600 feet west of summit of small hill, 40 feet south of road; iron post stamped “4153 H" (4,161.348) [PA0473?]

 

- Riley, 2.9 miles east of, 15 feet south of road; iron post stamped "4318 H" (4,326.567) [PA0472]

 

The only problem is that what we assume is PA0473 is listed at an elevation and stamping of 4153 (4161) instead of 4461 like your topo shows.

However, I think that somebody transposed a 4 into a 1 because there is nothing in the area around 4160 feet.

 

Now it is just a matter of someone getting back there to look north of the current highway and prove this one way or another.

 

Thanks - all of you - for resurrecting thoughts on this mark! Especially mloser for initial idea and the resurrection.

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