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New To Benchmarking Need Some Pointers.


Mastifflover
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Hello, have found all of the caches in my area that I don't have to drive 45 minutes to get to so I thought I would give benchmarking a try. Sounds neat as hardly anybody in my area seems to be looking for them and I would love to find something that nobody has seen since before I was born. The two that I tried to find today were both supposed to be cemented into bridge abutments near railroad tracks. It should have been easy as it was only supposed to be 91 feet from the middle of a road. I even made a waypoint on the road and walked the distance using the gps. Passerbys must have thought that I was nuts as cleared all of the snow off the bridge abutment with no luck. I can't find any listed that are on the sides of buildings. I could probably do the tower thing but I would like to find an actual disk. I really give you guys credit. There are only so many places that you can hide an ammo can but this seems way harder. Any suggestions to a benchmark newbie. Should I give up on this until the snow melts?

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Look for an "adjusted" rather than "scaled" set of coordinates. Your GPSr will take you right to an adjusted benchmark.

 

Read the "Official History" carefully as it will have specific directions for that disk. The Official History is usually accurate enough to get you with feet of the disk.

 

For the disk at the bridge abutment you might try using a metal detector if there is a lot of snow coverage. Check the Official History to be sure you are looking at the correct bridge and the correct abutment.

 

It helps to have a regular compass along as they give directions according to the cardinal directions. Such as "The southeast end of the southwest abutment of bridge #A335x1. On the top of the abutment."

 

Also, when you're looking for a standard benchmark along a roadway watch for witness posts. The Official History will tell you if there is a witness post and how far away and which direction the disk is. If you're lucky the witness post will still be standing.

 

Hope this helps and good luck.

 

John

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I would add that it would be best to start with easier ones (if there is such a thing) such as towers, steeples etc. That will give you some idea of what you are getting into. Also keep in mind this is a sometimes haphazard at best thing as it is a combination of private companies/individuals or goverment employees reporting them and the goverment keeping track of them. Go thru some of the threads in this section- there are some VERY good ones that will help. A camera to document and add to your logs is a good idea but not necessary.

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Location is Adjusted means that the mark's published location (Lat.-Lon. coordinates are very accurate (more accurate than your GPS). That's because the mark is for establishing a horizontal location and the vertical coordinate is only approximate.

 

Location is Scaled, on the other hand, means that such a mark is for establishing a vertical location, and the horizontal coordinates are only approximate (they could be a couple hundred feet off or even more).

 

The location-adjusted type can be found with a GPS. A GPS is basically useless for helping you find a location-scaled type.

 

For easy ones, try selecting toward these types:

1. Location Adjusted

2. Found relatively recently (like 1985 or 1990).

 

Avoid these types:

1. Along roads that have been widened / lanes added.

2. Descriptions that mention rural landmarks but the current situation is suburbia.

3. Buried X inches below the surface.

 

Yep, the towers and churches are boring to find.

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Not sure exactly where you're located, but based on your geocache finds, I'd guess somewhere in McKean county.

 

I found a nice string of easily recoverable benchmarks along Rt. 6 a couple of miles east and west of Coudersport while visiting a friend in October. If it's not too far away, you might try along Rt. 6 in McKean county.

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I also have found all the reasonably nearby caches and have taken a real good stab at benchmarks. Like you, I am somewhat frustrated. However, I have found one actual disk, which was located along a RR line which was de-commissioned long before I was born (I'm 36). It is now a golf course.

 

I have 6 finds, 5 of which are water towers and courthouse domes. I have 10 no-finds, 3 of which are "almost finds." By almost finds, I mean that I found evidence of them, but not the actual disks. These three I believe are buried at least a foot under frozen ground, but they have witness posts. I'm not ready to give up yet, but it is very hard to find stuff when the descriptions mention roads that are renamed and/or relocated. Let's not even get into RR lines that haven't existed for years. I feel lucky to have found one.

 

I cannot believe some of the inane descriptions, such as ". . .first driveway beyond a farmhouse owned by Dick Powell. . ." What were they smoking when they wrote that? Were these written to be good for only a few years? That piece of land, by the way, is now a hot air balloon field owned by the National Balloon Classic. I could probably actually do some research and asking around and find somebody who remembers the farmhouse, but does a professional surveyor have time to do all that? See, your tax dollars were "hard at work" even back then!

 

Have fun, and have better luck than me!

 

James

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I cannot believe some of the inane descriptions, such as ".  .  .first driveway beyond a farmhouse owned by Dick Powell.  .  ."  What were they smoking when they wrote that?  Were these written to be good for only a few years?  That piece of land, by the way, is now a hot air balloon field owned by the National Balloon Classic.  I could probably actually do some research and asking around and find somebody who remembers the farmhouse, but does a professional surveyor have time to do all that?  See, your tax dollars were "hard at work" even back then!

Last July I recovered RN0954, which was set in 1898. The original to reach referenced "Mrs. Foulds" house.

 

The Foulds family stills owns that house. In that case, it helped me in locating the monument.

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I cannot believe some of the inane descriptions, such as ".  .  .first driveway beyond a farmhouse owned by Dick Powell.  .  ."  What were they smoking when they wrote that?  Were these written to be good for only a few years?  That piece of land, by the way, is now a hot air balloon field owned by the National Balloon Classic.  I could probably actually do some research and asking around and find somebody who remembers the farmhouse, but does a professional surveyor have time to do all that?  See, your tax dollars were "hard at work" even back then!

Last July I recovered RN0954, which was set in 1898. The original to reach referenced "Mrs. Foulds" house.

 

The Foulds family stills owns that house. In that case, it helped me in locating the monument.

Ha! That's a great story, and I'm sure that happens quite a bit, but you sure can't count on it, especially in these days when family farms are disappearing at an alarming rate. Actually, I'm thinking that I know Dick Powell's daughter-in-law, but it might be a different guy.

 

James

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When a description to a benchmark is written, reference ties are used to to help others, usually surveyors, locate the mark in the future. Those ties are usually to any permanent, semi-permanent, or other notable object. Sometimes the descriptions are as simple as '...the mark is located on the northeast corner of the headwall structure...', at which point ties are probably not necessary. Descriptions can also be as vague as '...four and a half miles north of the post office, and 30 feet east of the road...'. A tie to a witness post, a road, a tree, or driveway is probably necessary and a perfectly adequate part of the description. Sometimes the driveway is all there is.

 

Keep in mind that these descriptions were not written for amature benchmark hunters; they were written by surveyors, for surveyors. A surveyor understands that conditions change and they focus on the evidence of that change rather than the exact description. In this case '...the first driveway...', or evidence of a driveway would be the focus, not the farmhouse and certainly not the name of the owner.

 

A surveyor who sets benchmarks (such as the marks we seek) has no way of knowing what the surrounding area will be like in 50 years, 5 years, or even 5 weeks. The description is not to be one of what the area will be like in the future, but rather a description of what the area is like at the present time. Over time, as the marks are found, the present conditions are sometimes submitted to the NGS by others to perpetuate the monument. Sometimes they aren't. Sometimes, the local surveyors just know the locations of the benchmarks and they don't need the descriptions to find them.

 

As far as surveyors doing historical research on properties: that is a LARGE part of the job description, particularly for surveyors who perform property boundary surveys. The history of a property helps to define that property, and surveyors do take the time to do the research if it is necessary for the project.

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Last July I recovered RN0954, which was set in 1898.  The original to reach referenced "Mrs. Foulds" house.

 

The Foulds family stills owns that house.  In that case, it helped me in locating the monument.

Just as an aside ... take a look at our recovery of LZ1848 and LZ1847. While these marks are newer than the one you located, it was nevertheless very exciting to learn that the man mentioned in the recovery notes—and whose name was chosen as the designation for one of the marks—still lives on the property!

 

~Zhanna

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