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Golden Ace

Benchmark Hunting in Yellowstone National Park

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The website says, "The book explains why geocaching is illegal in national parks, and why benchmark hunting is such a wonderful substitute."

 

That's a very misleading sentence. There are plenty of geocaches in YNP and the other national parks. True, none of them are traditionals, but there are grandfathered virtuals, and more importantly, Earthcaches. It would be a pity if people were discouraged from enjoying geocaching when they visit NPS properties simply because there aren't any physical caches.

 

Patty

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We just found this disk in Yellowstone, close to the Old Faithful lodge and parking lot. I thought it was a benchmark, but cannot find the listing. Does anyone know what this is?

73a495be-4f58-4bbe-89fc-26e1df36427e.jpg

Edited by Deepspace4

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Deepspace4,

 

You have found a brass cap showing one of the many different stampings (and agencies) of Bench Marks that are generically known as 'Bureau of Public Roads' marks. Most of these were used in National Parks, National Forest or along Federally funded highways that were constructed in the 1930's (pay no attention to the dates in GSAK).

 

COOKE CITY - NE ENTRANCE

 

8a5257d6-c157-46db-ba86-a52d15f6e525.jpg

 

I believe that yours was not set as a benchmark (Vertical Control = accurate elevation), but was monumented to mark a distance (148.51 ft/M ??)from something. Like many, many interesting objects out there it is not part of the NGS data base of geodetic marks.

 

kayakbird

 

edited to add below link:

 

PREVIOUS BPR THREAD

Edited by kayakbird

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The website says, "The book explains why geocaching is illegal in national parks, and why benchmark hunting is such a wonderful substitute."

 

That's a very misleading sentence. There are plenty of geocaches in YNP and the other national parks. True, none of them are traditionals, but there are grandfathered virtuals, and more importantly, Earthcaches. It would be a pity if people were discouraged from enjoying geocaching when they visit NPS properties simply because there aren't any physical caches.

 

Patty

 

It's actually not a "misleading" sentence. It is technically accurate, and is the verbiage the NPS wanted when I had them approve the draft of the book. I do discuss the subject of virtual caches and earthcaches, by the way (although in very limited detail since that's not what the book is about).

 

Thank you to the OP for posting it. Dave Doyle wrote the Foreword for the book, too, btw. I did most of the research for the book in 2011, and Dr. Neil Weston (who was Doyle's supervisor) happened into the visitor center where I was working having taken a Boy Scout troop of his up to the summit of Mt. Washburn specifically to look for the three benchmarks up there. We had a very nice conversation about the surveying of the park throughout its history, and he offered to have NGS install a new one at Old Faithful (the old one was removed in 1972). Sadly, the NPS declined to have it done.

 

Anyway, the book's got locator information for 300 of the 550+/- benchmarks in the park (including about 30 that're not in the NGS database), and the website has info on another dozen or so I found this past summer, for those who're interested. The website has photographs of all of the BMs plus context photos as well.

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My questions are:

 

1) of the 300 benchmarks - (better yet have all the 550+ )have ALL the marks been found?

 

2) What marks are actually listed? NGS and public works only, or USGS as well?

Edited by frex3wv

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I do believe I have found some benchmarks in Bermuda on the Old American Military Base

 

I know we're off-topic, but....do you have any photos? I know of some Tidal Benchmarks I'd like to look for when I get back there again..

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A bump (with new questions added:)

 

My questions are:

 

1) of the 300 benchmarks you reference in the book - (or better yet of the 550+ you mention that are located in the park) have ALL the marks been found? (I noticed there were some not logged on geocaching.com or reported to NGS since placed.)

 

2) What marks are actually listed in the book? NGS and public works only, or USGS as well?

 

3) When looking at the topo map I noticed the east coast practice of indicating "benchmarks" with an "x" and the letters "BM" are not practiced in that area. Can anyone tell me what the "T" or "AT" is indicitive of? Are those non NGS marks (most likely USGS marks) or something totally different?

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Kind of a funny sidenote to all this discussion.

 

A benchmarking/geocaching friend of mine and I were eating lunch yesterday, where he was talking about him and his wife taking a vacation later on this year. He then stated he was thinking about going back to Yellowstone where they had went several years ago. He also added that when he was there originally, he had climbed up a hill and accidently found a benchmark there, but since this was before he got into the hobby, he didn't take pics or coordinates. He said he has been thinking about that particular benchmark for awhile, and was going to go back to it if/when they make it back to Yellowstone...as well as looking for other benchmarks there.

 

I started laughing, and stated how this forum thread was going on, and about the book mentioned in the OP, which I was thinking about buying.

 

I hadn't got back to the shop long after lunch, when my friend called and said he bought the book off Amazon...and they were most likely going to Yellowstone.

 

Now, I get to read his copy and don't have to spend my money. :lol:

 

A big THANKS to everyone.

Edited by LSUFan

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1) of the 300 benchmarks you reference in the book - (or better yet of the 550+ you mention that are located in the park) have ALL the marks been found? (I noticed there were some not logged on geocaching.com or reported to NGS since placed.)

 

All of the markers in the book were physically located, photographed (the marker and a context photo), geolocated, etc. The book has the identifiers, locator verbiage (summarized and converted into text an ordinary person can use to find the marker), and the latitude/longitude, along with an assessment of how easy it is to find it, whether it's accessible to someone in a wheelchair, and if it's "family friendly" (easy to access for someone with small children). The website has the photos and any other notes created since the book was published, along with links to their NGS and Geocaching.com pages if they exist. There's also a general history of the various surveys that were done in the park to explain why there are so many, why they were monumented, etc.

 

There are several that I found that are not listed in the book or the website. I made the decision to not include those that were somewhat unsafe to get to, such as those along the side of the road where there's no pullout nearby (and thus, no place to park your car), those in thermal areas where no boardwalk was available, those in areas that spend a good deal of time closed for bear or other wildlife management functions, and so forth. The NPS expressed appreciation for that.

 

Of those 550, a good number of them probably no longer exist. There are 53 that I was unable to locate, most often because the road has been realigned since they were monumented and in all likelihood have since been destroyed. There are also many in the backcountry that I didn't have the opportunity to hike to.

 

2) What marks are actually listed in the book? NGS and public works only, or USGS as well?

 

All of the marks I found are listed (subject to what I explained above). This includes about two dozen that are not listed in the NGS database, mostly NPS benchmarks placed in the 1970s as a part of their re-engineering of the water system. There are benchmarks from USGS (including the CVO), BPR/PRA/FHWA, USCGS/NGS, USDI/NPS, and even one from the old General Land Office (now the BLM).

 

3) When looking at the topo map I noticed the east coast practice of indicating "benchmarks" with an "x" and the letters "BM" are not practiced in that area. Can anyone tell me what the "T" or "AT" is indicitive of? Are those non NGS marks (most likely USGS marks) or something totally different?

 

I don't know the answer to that question. If you contact me via private message, I'll give you a POC in USGS that might be able to address that question, though.

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3) When looking at the topo map I noticed the east coast practice of indicating "benchmarks" with an "x" and the letters "BM" are not practiced in that area. Can anyone tell me what the "T" or "AT" is indicitive of? Are those non NGS marks (most likely USGS marks) or something totally different?

 

I don't know the answer to that question. If you contact me via private message, I'll give you a POC in USGS that might be able to address that question, though.

 

Not sure what area covered by which TOPO frex3wv is looking at, but on 29 Sept 2011 I GeoLogged (& NGS RECOVERED) at least three Yellowstone Park marks that have a BM X on my National Geographic Topo - MONTANA (coverage ends just south of Tower Falls campground). kayakbird

 

PY1012, PY1025 & PY0027

 

Tower Falls Campground

c8bb152d-53c8-4a87-8e14-8a7288eedb5d.jpg

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HAYDEN SURVEY QUESTION?

 

YellowstoneHunter,

 

During your extensive research did you find even the slightest hint (physical or paper) that the Hayden Survey left some kind of mark under their rock cairns - chisel marks, copper or brass bolt, juniper stake driven into a rock crack, anything - that maybe later was appropriated by USGS or CGS without documentation?

 

With all the 1860-70's Government financed surveyors apparently wintering in Washington I find it hard to believe that none of the 'Great Surveys of the American West' picked up on the methodology of the USLS.

 

FARQUHARS KNOB USLS 1869

1eebe321-ccfa-42bd-9f30-77c1381fd0f7.jpg

 

I would also like to know who left this inscription in the high country of Colorado:

 

SEE 1877 HAYDEN MAP

74a2042c-acbb-4791-aa87-b05cb08fcabd.jpg

 

Thanks for any additional information. kayakbird

Edited by kayakbird

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The topo map I used was viewed through this site: http://benchmarks.scaredycatfilms.com

 

I am asking all these questions, I guess, to see if there really are marks that have NOT been found, but may still be there for someone to find/see for the very first time in many many years.

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HAYDEN SURVEY QUESTION?

 

YellowstoneHunter,

 

During your extensive research did you find even the slightest hint (physical or paper) that the Hayden Survey left some kind of mark under their rock cairns - chisel marks, copper or brass bolt, juniper stake driven into a rock crack, anything - that maybe later was appropriated by USGS or CGS without documentation?

 

With all the 1860-70's Government financed surveyors apparently wintering in Washington I find it hard to believe that none of the 'Great Surveys of the American West' picked up on the methodology of the USLS.

 

I started out with a data set pulled from the NGS database by the park's Spatial Analysis lab, and focused primarily on the markers that could be found in the front country (i.e, within a mile or two of the main or abandoned roads). I know there are marks chiseled into boulders and some spikes along the old section of road known as the Mary Mountain Road (or Trout Creek Road on the east side of it), but did not get back along those trails to try to find any of them. I was doing that part of the research late in the season (August/September), and there'd been a bear-caused human fatality a week or so prior along that very trail, and that area of the park was closed to hiking. So I focused most of my time looking for the PY0011/PY0949 marker and those that were monumented afterward, primarily by BPR in 1923, NGS, the USGS through their various earthquake studies, and the FHWA through the initial planning for the highway improvement project in the 1980s.

 

As I was doing that, I'd come across the occasional undocumented NPS or BPR marker (or someone I knew would point me to one of them). Interestingly, very few of these are even in the park's GIS system (or were, I gave them that data). Even the Maintenance Office doesn't have a list of the markers they installed in the 1970s - it's as if they did the surveys (for the water system improvements and a couple of other projects) and then completely abandoned them.

 

In reviews of the literature, specifically Hiram Chittenden's reports and USGCS/NGS/USGS reports, and through discussions with personnel in the various office responsible for the surveys, there was no mention of markers prior to the 1923 surveys (aside from the PY0011 and itinerant markers used by the USACE). I have not looked at any of Hayden's reports, however, so I don't know if he discusses or documents any marks he or his teams may have left anywhere in the park or not. Some of those old marks I mentioned along the MMR/TCR are listed in the NGS system, though (PY0909 & PY0929, for ex.). It is on my list of things to do to go find some of those, in fact. I'd intended to do that this past summer while I was there, but I'm working on a second book about Yellowstone and was busy doing the research for that, so I just didn't have time to get out into those areas.

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YellowstoneHunter,

 

Thanks for the response. I recovered this one

 

USGS PORCUPINE - KINGS CHALK BUTTE

eb14aed0-193c-4084-92e5-b3577b36779b.jpg

 

southwest of Evanston, WYO on the ridge where the Fortieth Parallel Survey maps show a cairn.

 

I believe that this USGS 1938 copper bolt it much older than that. 1938 is when the CGS came by and set RM 1 and RM 2.

 

Link to my ongoing thread on this subject. kayakbird

 

Fortieth Parallel Survey

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AMAZING FIND Kayakbird!

 

THIS is the reason I asked my questions above (still waiting for a response - no tone - just saying)

 

I would love to visit yellowstone one day - but will really only want to hunt for marks never found or seen in 40 + years etc.

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but will really only want to hunt for marks never found or seen in 40 + years etc.

 

frex3wv, I am like that too, and really like the ones that have no recovery reports.....or none in many years.

 

I scour ScaredyCats maps for those white icons. :lol:

Edited by LSUFan

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I have no reason to doubt the info posted, and this may be totally wrong, but something tells me there are marks older then 1923 there just waiting to be found.

 

I could be TOTALLY WRONG though. It is JUST a gut feeling (or wishful thinking)

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I have no reason to doubt the info posted, and this may be totally wrong, but something tells me there are marks older then 1923 there just waiting to be found.

 

I could be TOTALLY WRONG though. It is JUST a gut feeling (or wishful thinking)

 

Did someone say there weren't?

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Yellowstone:

 

Nope. That was just my impression from your detailed comments. I am still interested in getting an answer to my question about reading the topo map of the area:

 

"When looking at the topo map I noticed the east coast practice of indicating "benchmarks" with an "x" and the letters "BM" are not practiced in that area. Can anyone tell me what the "T" or "AT" is indicitive of? Are those non NGS marks (most likely USGS marks) or something totally different?"

 

The topo map I used was viewed through this site: http://benchmarks.scaredycatfilms.com

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Yellowstone:

 

Nope. That was just my impression from your detailed comments. I am still interested in getting an answer to my question about reading the topo map of the area:

 

"When looking at the topo map I noticed the east coast practice of indicating "benchmarks" with an "x" and the letters "BM" are not practiced in that area. Can anyone tell me what the "T" or "AT" is indicitive of? Are those non NGS marks (most likely USGS marks) or something totally different?"

 

The topo map I used was viewed through this site: http://benchmarks.scaredycatfilms.com

frex3wv:

I believe (mainly because of the large amount of hand lettering), that you are looking at a provisional edition of the topo. In which case, the X-marks, unless labeled BM, indicate spot elevations. Not sure of the significance of the AT vs T.

 

TopoMapSymbols

I added a link to a PDF explaining USGS Map Symbols.

Edited by Holtie22

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Yellowstone:

 

Nope. That was just my impression from your detailed comments.

 

Sorry, didn't mean to give you that impression. That's why I mentioned the chiseled boulders and spikes along the old Mary Mountain Road. I suspect all of those are older marks. The USGS did their own surveys of the park in the late 1890s, including triangulation surveys in 1899. I've not tried to located any records related to those, or to any of the 1870s surveys, which may have placed some markers as well. I may work on that for the 2nd edition of the book, but that'll be some years off.

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YellowstoneHunter, I got ahold of my friends copy of your book. Man, you have gotten me wanting to go to Yellowstone now. :lol:

 

I really am enjoying it, and liked the history you have provided, especially about Old Faithful and the fact you used to be able to drive up in front of it. It's very helpful, in telling everyone where to park in looking for particular marks.

 

Thanks for going to the effort and putting this book together. I highly recommend it for anyone who may planning a trip there.

 

Now I just have to get the time and money to go benchmarking in Yellowstone.

Edited by LSUFan

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