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ipuppy

Now that's a recovery...

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Greetings -

I made a quick urban benchmark run yesterday morning and one of the marks I had on my list was JV6912. NGS Datasheet

 

I had little hope of finding this one as it is in an area with a lot of change like most waterfront areas around here - transitioning from heavy industrial to other uses. Interestingly it is described as an "ESSO Standard Oil Company disk" which I'd never seen before. The references include nearby oil tanks which I knew had been demolished at least a decade ago, so I assumed the area had been thoroughly altered, likely obscuring or destroying the mark. I arrived at the busy intersection - there is lots of traffic, both commuters and trucks, as there is still a lot of industry in the area. I quickly found what looked to be the "top of a concrete post flush with surface of the ground" and "about 0.5 ft higher than the road."

 

cd0a82a5-2e00-435c-9f13-ab4e1733b42d.jpg

 

But the concrete had no disk, and there was what appeared to be the stump of the stem in it. Assuming the disk was long gone, I took a few photos of the area to document the note and made a mental note to perhaps come back later to take measurements. As I was leaning in to take a closer look at the possible stem remnant, something caught my eye - a disk about a foot and a half away from the concrete monument.

 

74177ca6-8837-4c7e-83cd-5546973f2b93.jpg

 

I picked it up and saw "ESSO STANDARD OIL COMPANY BENCH MARK" inscribed on it and said "Whoa!" (or something like that). The datasheet shows a good recovery in 2014, so apparently the damage had occurred recently. The disk has many scrapes on it so it appears to have been hit several times. As I was standing there several trucks made the turn at the intersection and came uncomfortably close:

 

dff7df10-7853-49b9-96e6-51945087bc9b.jpg

 

So I figure a truck made the turn really close, scraped over the curb and sheared the disk off the concrete monument. I pocketed the disk and now it sits on my desk.

 

32c6f93d-a2f2-4ca0-90c1-0aaff999447c.jpg

 

Questions:


  •  
  • What to do with the disk? I'd love to keep it as a souvenir, but should I contact the state highway administration and see if they want it back?
  • Is there any value for surveyors having the disk back? I've read that the stem remnant can still be useful; is it more so with the disk?
  • Would they reset the same disk, place another, or not do anything?
  • Do other companies have their own disks that are included in the NGS system?
  • And why would the MD SHA monument a mark using a private company disk?
  • Is this worth my filing a report with NGS? I've never done one before.
  • Finally, should I log this as a "Note" or "Found?"

 

Thanks in advance for your thoughts and input on this.

 

Brian (ipuppy)

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Brian, Great recovery and interesting post!

 

I once lived a few miles from there.

 

ESSO, for those who don't know, is the former brand now known in the US as Exxon. (It's still Esso in Canada.) The word Esso comes from the initials S O, referring to the Standard Oil Company, the former corporate parent.

 

Curious that an Esso disk would be monumented in 1991, since the name change was two decades earlier. Maybe it's a leftover disk from a batch made up years earlier? Or maybe there is some corporate subsidiary that still carries the Esso name, e.g. Esso Property Services, or something like that.

 

The state highway administration is listed as the monumenting agency, which would indeed be unusual in my experience if the SHA installed an Esso disk. But maybe the disk was already there, and the SHA did the necessary measurement and reporting to get it into the NGS database?

 

The stem in its concrete post may have some limited value for survey purposes. An NGS report would usually categorize this as "poor" with an explanation that only the stem remains in situ. The severed disk itself will be of no survey value, I think. I've never heard of one being reattached to its old stem. You could contact the SHA or NGS but I would be comfortable keeping it as a souvenir. Others more knowledgeable may have more information and I would welcome being corrected.

 

The disk refers to "refinery datum," which is interesting. It's like the oil company is its own sovereign nation with its own datum. (I thought the same thing in 1989, when company officials responding to the Exxon Valdez oil spill referred to the company's ships as the "Exxon Navy" and its planes and helicopters as the "Exxon Air Force.") Is such a corporate datum common in the oil business or other industries located near the water, as a refinery would be?

 

Thanks for posting this.

-ArtMan-

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Some thoughts:

It was DESCRIBED BY, not MONUMENTED BY the Maryland Highway Administration, so ArtMan is undoubtedly right that the MDSHA were the ones who measured it, by running level lines from other elevation marks. Note that they had a B 197, a C 197, and probably others in the series the same year. They worked in NAVD88, not the Refinery Datum. ESSO must have set some of these much earlier but didn't tie into the national datum then.

 

It is worth a POOR report to NGS with the details.

 

It seems unusual for the disk to come off the stem. I can't imagine it getting scraped off. Possibly, it wasn't in tight contact with the concrete and being driven over rocked it back and forth until the stem broke. What does the break look like?

 

The only good way to keep the disk at the site would be to bury it alongside the post and note that in your report, but it may not stay there even if you do that. You certainly shouldn't try to glue it back in place, as that changes the elevation without making it obvious to a user. If you decide you want a souvenir, nobody will give you permission to keep it, but nobody will come after you for it. (You may get some unfriendly mail if you try to sell it on eBay, as that encourages people to steal good disks, although unfortunately no one will do anything about that either.)

 

There are quite a few bench marks within a mile and a half, some with finds on them, so I doubt a surveyor would bother trying to figure out how much height was lost when this disk went away. If they did try to use this mark, having the disk or the exact vertical dimension of your souvenir would be important, i.e. "broken off stem flush with disk","broken off stem, leaving 0.1 inch depression in back of disk," or "broken off, taking 1/8" stub of stem with disk."

Edited by Bill93

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ArtMan, Bill -

I know ArtMan from all the marks I've gone to find around here and you'd already logged them!

 

Thanks for the replies - I had the same thoughts about the ESSO disk - why still an ESSO disk years after the change of name to Exxon? Even the datasheet mentions the "WALL SURROUNDING EXXON OIL COMPANY STORAGE TANKS." Of course Bill is right - ESSO/Exxon already had the mark there and the SHA measured it. I'll pay more attention to "DESCRIBED" vs "MONUMENTED" in the future...

 

I will make this my first report to NGS describing the condition as best I can. If I need to I'll make another trip to get more details. Thanks for the pointers on what's valuable for the report.

 

As for the break, here's a picture of the back of the disk:

 

4c6c6ee0-a492-4d45-8f88-cd442b52010e.jpg

 

I'm no metallurgist, but it looks like a fairly clean and quick break. There's a small divot of about 2/3 of the diameter of the stem with the remaining third sticking up a little. There is also a pretty good ding on the edge - it can be seen at about the 2-o'clock point of the disk. There is also what looks like a fairly recent scrape on the underside edge at about the 8-o'clock position. Maybe something scraped over the monument and hit the lip of the disk (ding) or got underneath (scrape) then bent it up until it snapped off. I doubt it was intentional, since a vandal would likely take the disk or toss it further away, but who knows..

 

I'll go ahead and log this as a find (with extensive notes and photos) and keep this souvenir on my desk unless I find out more. No way I'm going to put it on eBay. It's too cool and goes so well with the lamp I have it resting on. ;-)

 

Thanks again-

Brian (ipuppy)

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The state highway administration is listed as the monumenting agency, which would indeed be unusual in my experience if the SHA installed an Esso disk. But maybe the disk was already there, and the SHA did the necessary measurement and reporting to get it into the NGS database?

This is misleading.

 

Keep in mind that the scripts that generate datasheets *always* give the first entry 'monumented' or 'description' recoveries, even if they're not the ones that did it. Since there are no original notes from Esso in the NGS database, MD SHA's recovery note is the first, and therefore their entry is marked in the history table as being 'monumented' by.

 

(Hell - I had two in the NGS database that said *I* monument them, until I asked Dave to correct it - once he imported notes from paper files into the stations, I was no longer the monumenter. :D)

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The state highway administration is listed as the monumenting agency, which would indeed be unusual in my experience if the SHA installed an Esso disk. But maybe the disk was already there, and the SHA did the necessary measurement and reporting to get it into the NGS database?

This is misleading.

 

Keep in mind that the scripts that generate datasheets *always* give the first entry 'monumented' or 'description' recoveries, even if they're not the ones that did it. Since there are no original notes from Esso in the NGS database, MD SHA's recovery note is the first, and therefore their entry is marked in the history table as being 'monumented' by.

 

(Hell - I had two in the NGS database that said *I* monument them, until I asked Dave to correct it - once he imported notes from paper files into the stations, I was no longer the monumenter. :D)

Didn't mean to be misleading, just suggesting that we don't know the whole story and we are left to suppose.

 

For example, is it possible that the mark was monumented, say, in 1970 (in the "Esso" era), and then in 1991 a Maryland SHA crew comes along, properly surveys and documents the mark, and stamps the pre-existing disk "1991" before reporting to NGS? I'm puzzled by that date....

 

-ArtMan-

Edited by ArtMan

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Didn't mean to be misleading, just suggesting that we don't know the whole story and we are left to suppose.

 

For example, is it possible that the mark was monumented, say, in 1970 (in the "Esso" era), and then in 1991 a Maryland SHA crew comes along, properly surveys and documents the mark, and stamps the pre-existing disk "1991" before reporting to NGS? I'm puzzled by that date....

 

-ArtMan-

 

Artman,

 

You may well be on to something about the re-use of disks, and I've seen a number of examples of this in my local area, though I don't think that any of the disks I've seen has been restamped. I'm curious about the digits "9" in the 1991 date. From what I see, the font in the date "9"s may not match to the "9" font that stamped the 197, although getting run over by a truck can alter appearances a bit. The 1991 date is also sloppy, whereas the A 197 stamp is straight across. Yes, I've seen sloppily done Federal marks, but this does lend credence to the theory that it was monumented during the Esso era, then restamped in 1991.

 

Exxon, I believe, still sells fuels under the Esso name outside of the US. Within the US, Exxon did continue to sell Esso Diesel after the Esso-to-Exxon rebranding in the early 1970s, so that Exxon would not risk losing the Esso trademark by disuse.

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That would seem a good deduction from the stamping, except that it doesn't take into account the nearby marks in the same series, such as

JV6913 B 197 01/01/1991 by MDSHA (MONUMENTED) A MARYLAND STATE HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATION SURVEY DISK

 

and JV6914 C 197 A MARYLAND STATE HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATION SURVEY DISK

 

which would indicate that the designation A 197 and the date 1991 were probably stamped by the same crew. So I don't think the quality of the stamping is evidence here.

Edited by Bill93

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It seems to me that the process of doing a leveling run is a two part process. Part one is the setting of the disks. The setting crew digs the hole, pours the concrete and sets the disk. In that process the crew also stamps the disc number.

 

Part two is the leveling crew that surveys the disk’s height and records the data for submittal. They also stamp the date of the leveling run, as the date of setting and the date of leveling could be more than a year apart.

 

With the designation A 197 this was the start of the leveling run and it may have been selected because ESSO had a highly accurate height for this disk giving the leveling crew a great starting point.

 

In this case the setting crew stamped an existing disk.

Edited by 68-eldo

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With the designation A 197 this was the start of the leveling run and it may have been selected because ESSO had a highly accurate height for this disk giving the leveling crew a great starting point.
Even assuming "highly accurate height" info was available for this ESSO mark, wouldn't that elevation be for the "refinery datum?" Could that be converted into elevation for the NGS datum in use in 1991?

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Didn't mean to be misleading, just suggesting that we don't know the whole story and we are left to suppose.

 

For example, is it possible that the mark was monumented, say, in 1970 (in the "Esso" era), and then in 1991 a Maryland SHA crew comes along, properly surveys and documents the mark, and stamps the pre-existing disk "1991" before reporting to NGS? I'm puzzled by that date....

D'oh, sorry - I didn't mean YOU were misleading, I meant the datasheet with the 'monumneted' recoveries. :)

 

My take on the disk -

It's possible that part of the company (Esso part) has certain divisions under it (read: surveying crews) that work in both countries, so their disks read 'Esso' - while the US company counter-part wouldn't have a surveying team. I've seen railroads do this often. (i.e. Different divisions of CN or CP..)

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That would seem a good deduction from the stamping, except that it doesn't take into account the nearby marks in the same series, such as

JV6913 B 197 01/01/1991 by MDSHA (MONUMENTED) A MARYLAND STATE HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATION SURVEY DISK

 

and JV6914 C 197 A MARYLAND STATE HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATION SURVEY DISK

 

which would indicate that the designation A 197 and the date 1991 were probably stamped by the same crew. So I don't think the quality of the stamping is evidence here.

 

The question, then, would be what are the stampings on B 197 and C 197? Are those, also, Esso disks, with additional stampings of B 197 and C 197 and the date 1991, or were those originally set by the MD Highway Admin? If the B and C disks are actual MD disks and were originally set in 1991, then the A disk may well have been an old Esso disk that was reused by the State crew. I'd also ask, too, whether the original Esso disk, if set by Esso, would have had ANY stampings like "A 197" which is a Federal or State marking. And are there other Esso disks in the area that are NOT stamped with a Federal or State designation?

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