Amygdaloid Posted September 5, 2017 Share Posted September 5, 2017 If you have ever been to Houghton Michigan, you may have caught a glimpse of one of a series of strange looking 3 legged steel structure with a pole mounted on top. The legs are arched T section steel that are mounted to substantial concrete pylons. The pole on top is a substantial steel pipe of various lengths, Centered underneath the center of the pole you may find a 1 1/2" pipe with a pipe cap, or possibly a steel rod set in a drill hole (or maybe just the drill hole) in the bedrock. The arched lower portion of the structure is generally quite tall - you can easily walk underneath it. I've been pondering the origin of these since I went to Michigan Tech in surveying in the 80's. We even did a project near one in west Hancock during summer field camp. I'm sure I asked about them at the time, but if I received a detailed answer I've long forgotten what it was. I've seen 6 of them in the Houghton/Hancock area over the years since my college days, although 2 of those have been lost to construction over that time span. I have several old Michigan Tech yearbooks from the early 1940's, and 2 of them have collections of photos from Surveying summer camp. In a couple of photos you can see either a complete tripod in the background or a portion of a leg and the distinctive concrete pylon it is mounted on. My father in law also grew up near the west Hancock Tripod in the 50's, and remembers seeing them as a boy and associating it with Michigan Tech. Last week I was looking at my map of the NGS stations in the Keweenaw in prep for a long Labor Day weekend in the area, and clicked on a station I had never visited before that was categorized as a pipe cap and named "MCM T 107 MIGS 1934". I like hunting up the old Michigan Geodetic Survey (MIGS) marks, so I pulled up the data sheet for SG0237 to find this station description: SG0237'DESCRIBED BY MICHIGAN GEODETIC SURVEY 1934 (CMC) SG0237'NEAR COUNTY INFIRMARY IN SEC. 28, T. 55 N., R. 34 W., 80 PACES SG0237'N. 60 DEG W. MAG. OF THE ROOT HOUSE, IT BELONGS TO THE TRIANGULATION SG0237'SYSTEM OF THE DEPARTMENT OF MINING AND CIVIL ENGINEERING OF SG0237'THE MICHIGAN COLLEGE OF MINING AND TECHNOLOGY AND IS SURMOUNTED SG0237'BY A SUBSTANTIAL STEEL TRIPOD. THE CENTER IS MARKED BY A CENTER SG0237'MARK IN THE CAP OF A PIECE OF 1-1/2-INCH IRON PIPE SET IN SG0237'CONCRETE, STAMPED MCMT 107 1930. This was the first detailed documentation I have seen on the origin of one of these tripods with a date and tying it directly to Michigan Tech (or Michigan College of Mining and Technology, as it was called back then). There wasn't a geocache entry for this mark, so I had to go see for myself if this was the same as the mysterious tripods I've seen for so long. The station is located behind a gravel pit in the high ground west of Houghton. The gravel pit is posted, so I had to hike in the long way around to the back to avoid that, but much of the area is old farm fields so I was able to get there without to much difficulty. I found the tripod right where the coordinates indicated, located in a small clump of trees. The tripod is in great shape, and the cap is in place, although only the faintest indication of stamped lettering is present. Now I'm wondering how many more of these may be located out of sigh in remote locations like this? What was the purpose of this triangulation system? The USLS had done triangulation work in the area in the 1870's, so perhaps this was just densifying the control along the Keweenaw waterway, or in support of the local mining industry? Or was it just purely for educational purposes? And what about these tripod structures? I don't see how they could be used like a traditional triangulation tower, they aren't really very tall and I don't see any way they could have supported a platform of any kind. I'm guessing a signal light was mounted on top of the pole, and there was visibility between them at ground level back in 1930. Has anyone seen anything like this anyplace else? I think I will have to go to the Michigan Tech Archives on my next visit to see what I can find out now that I have a date and a college department to go on. If anyone has any information on this topic (I'm looking at you, Z15), please let me know. Photo of tripod at SG0237 and the pipe cap. . Here is a photo of the tripod on a high point in Houghton just north of Sharon Ave and east of Portage St. Since I took the photo below It has been hit by something large and one of the legs is bent and the concrete pylon has been dislodged from the bedrock, but it's a lot easier to find this one since you can see it from the road. Quote Link to comment
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