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foxtrot_xray

"Meteorological" Station?

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Hey all, quick question. I've heard of gravity and astrological stations, but never a 'meteorological' station. (Referenced in the Annual Report Upon the Geographical Surveys West of the One-Hundredth Meridian in the States and Territories of California, Oregon, Nevada, Texas, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming - U.S. Geographical Surveys. That's a mouthful!) Supposedly this one was set in June of 1873, and I'm curious to find the history of it.

 

It's a USGS publication, not NGS, but is this what an astrological station turned in to? Or is this not even a survey mark, but instead an actual 'let's watch the stars' type station?

 

Cheers,

--Me.

 

[Edit: Corrected the link.]

Edited by foxtrot_xray

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Follow-up.

That was probably a dumb question. Continung reading of the document reveals that they do call them Astrological Stations, so I'm guessing that the aforementioned "meteorological" is just that, a place where they can sit down and record the stars.

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Hey all, quick question. I've heard of gravity and astrological stations, but never a 'meteorological' station. (Referenced in the Annual Report Upon the Geographical Surveys West of the One-Hundredth Meridian in the States and Territories of California, Oregon, Nevada, Texas, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming - U.S. Geographical Surveys. That's a mouthful!) Supposedly this one was set in June of 1873, and I'm curious to find the history of it.

 

It's a USGS publication, not NGS, but is this what an astrological station turned in to? Or is this not even a survey mark, but instead an actual 'let's watch the stars' type station?

 

The Surveys West of the 100th Meridian were the Wheeler surveys, and it was the Army, not the USGS (which didn't exist until 1879-80).

 

One of the jobs of the meteorological station was to record barometric pressures, among other things. Barometry was often used to find elevations at the time of the Wheeler survey, so having a recorded barometric reading at a station with a known elevation allowed the teams in the field to use barometers to find elevations of mountain peaks and places that were not along railroad levelling lines. Not particularly accurate, but anything those early surveys did was useful at a time when virtually nothing was known about the topography of the West.

 

We think of surveys in terms of land surveys or geodetic triangulations, but in those days a "survey" had a much broader mandate: they collected information on the zoology, water courses, geology, land use, and native culture and published large volumes of information. The climate and potential for agriculture was an important part.

Edited by holograph

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... I've heard of gravity and astrological stations ...

 

You sure that's not "astronomical stations"?

 

-ArtMan-

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Wheeler's astronomical stations were places where the latitude was measured directly by star observations and longitude was measured by star observations and telegraphy, typically with a telegraphic connection to the Salt Lake City station. The history of longitude the role of telegraphy in the U.S. is interesting in itself (and bears directly on the supposed "error" in the location of Four Corners that was discussed last year).

 

Wheeler's Army surveys were criticized by the other civilian surveys, but they acknowledged that his work at the astronomical stations was of the highest quality. Of course, Wheeler didn't personally perform the measurements, he was in charge of the teams who did.

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... I've heard of gravity and astrological stations ...

 

You sure that's not "astronomical stations"?

 

-ArtMan-

Yes, that's what I meant. The other stations, when recovered, tell you how the next week is going to be for you. :huh:

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Wheeler's Army surveys were criticized by the other civilian surveys, but they acknowledged that his work at the astronomical stations was of the highest quality. Of course, Wheeler didn't personally perform the measurements, he was in charge of the teams who did.

So why were they criticized? I read that whole report (and did come to the realization that the 'survey' was more of a 'survey' in general, and not surveying. A lot of information on the rivers in there, too. (As well as references to places that don't exist, and had me scratching my head wondering where they were..)

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For more information on USC&GS astronomic stations, here is the first paragraph on astronomic observations from the “Manual of Geodetic Triangulation”, page 237 (http://docs.lib.noaa.gov/rescue/cgs_specpubs/QB275U35no247rev1959.pdf)

 

“Chapter 4.-AZIMUTHS

GENERAL STATEMENT

The accumulation of angular errors in triangulation, and a tendency for a part of those errors to be systematic, and to give a twist to the direction of a triangulation scheme, make it necessary to include azimuth-control points, called Laplace stations, in the adjustment of the triangulation. A Laplace azimuth is an astronomic azimuth corrected for deflection of the vertical. The Laplace correction and several methods of determining azimuth are discussed in Special Publication No. 237, “Manual of Geodetic Astronomy.” The description of azimuth observations which immediately follows in this manual is confined to the method used by first-order triangulation parties, who make the azimuth observations along with the angle measurements of triangles, using the same personnel, first-order theodolites, survey towers, observing tents, and other equipment as was described in chapter 2, plus additional equipment described on page 238. First-order Laplace azimuths are the only azimuths now used in the adjustment of triangulation of the Coast and Geodetic Survey. Second- and third-order azimuths are described in the last section of this chapter.”

 

GeorgeL

NGS

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So why were they criticized? I read that whole report (and did come to the realization that the 'survey' was more of a 'survey' in general, and not surveying. A lot of information on the rivers in there, too. (As well as references to places that don't exist, and had me scratching my head wondering where they were..)

 

There was a huge political battle over control of the western surveys. The Army (Wheeler) wanted to have control, just as it had gotten control the the Lake Survey (the Great Lakes regions). The civilians (King, Hayden, Powell, and a cadre of their colleagues at Princeton University), argued that the Army's techniques were inaccurate. "Useless for geological purposes" was how they were characterized.

 

In the West, the population wanted the surveys to show where the minerals could be found, where the land was good for agriculture, and what routes were best for transportation. The geologists argued that only maps showing contours could show the extent of geologic formations, and Wheeler's maps used hachures rather than contour lines.

 

Also, in the early stages prior to about 1873, the Army used the "meander" system for mapping -- measuring distances by a wheeled odometer drawn by a mule, with direction measured periodically with transit instruments. The King, Powell, and Hayden surveys were using the triangulation techniques of the Coast Survey (the NGS's predecessor) and the Lake Survey. The Army wasn't stupid, it just had different goals -- to rapidly map using lightweight instruments with an eye on military conflicts with the Indians.

 

After some congressional hearings, Wheeler started using triangulation around 1873, and eventually adopted the same methods as the other surveys. Unfortunately, he had an arrogant attitude which led to a conflict with Hayden in the Colorado Rockies -- at times both survey parties were on the same peak at the same time. Congress got fed up in 1879 and consolidated the surveys into the USGS, but preserved the Coast Survey in charge of precise geodesy, and giving the USGS authority for mapping and exploration.

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