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The Demise Of A Benchmark ...

Rich in NEPA

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June 24, 2004 was a rather somber day. Kinda felt like I was losing a good friend. It was sunny and warm that Thursday morning when Zhanna and I drove the 32 miles out to Pike County, returning to the site of a benchmark that we had found destroyed about a month and a half earlier (see LY1150 for more details and photos). My guess is that PennDOT hit the huge boulder with a snowplow blade during this past Winter, smashing it to pieces. Then they must have come back later and placed the piece of rock with the disk still in it on top of the pile. Yeah, they probably figured the mark could still be used like this! It's ironic, though, since PennDOT had just recovered the station in good condition in November 2001.


Anyway, after Zhanna reported our find to NGS she received subsequent instructions to remove the mark from the remains of its setting so as to avoid potential confusion and serious errors in the future. We were excited about the prospect of retrieving the mark, but also a bit apprehensive about working in plain sight so close to the road. We hoped to keep the disk intact as much as possible so we carefully chiseled away all of the rock surrounding the disk to get below the bottom of its edge, then completely chipped out the cement from underneath and with a bare hacksaw blade sawed it off from the stem. This all worked perfectly and took about an hour, during which time we chatted with an old gentleman who lives just down the road and happened to be driving by. He seemed to know a lot about the BM's in this area. Only recently did it occur to us that he might be the same “George Blain” as mentioned in the historical description on the datasheet. We'll just have to go back there again to find out! The mark is now being displayed in a prominent place at Zhanna's computer desk!


Cheers ...

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Once upon a time


I was tasked with recovering control for upcoming GPS survey project. Was looking for 1st and 2 nd order BM's for a GPS big project. Anyhoo I find this one BM that was broken in 1/2 and laying near the location. I did not have any tools in the truck, so I left it be. Too heavy to remove. So as was standard practice, I went by that way several months later to recover the disk only to find the post planted in the ground. I walked up to it and gave it a kick and it tilted over. I called my boss on the radio to let him know, he in turn contacted the NGS state advisor who instructed me to destroy it and recover the disk ASAP. In the meantime I had noticed county survey crew working on the road about a mile away and it dawned on me that may have planted it. So I proceed to contact them and discuss this mark. They said did not replant it but found it and used it not realizing it was no good. They also said the nearby property owner was peering at them all the while the were there. They had used it and were basing the survey for road construction on this mark. They had not bothered to close on another mark for a check.


I guess the property owner must have been responsible for hitting it removing snow in the winter. I knocked on his door to talk with him and try to let him know that nothing was going to come of it but no one answered the door even though it appeared someone was home. Wash on the line, garage door open etc.


Another mark was here is at the local small airport. It was located in a dedication plaque base (huge granite stone) for the terminal building but in the 1970's they constructed a new building and moved the plaque, its concrete base and the survey disk. And within the last few years they moved the plaque monument again but this time set a new base and the bench mark is gone to ??. The ground-keepers claimed "they knew nothing of what we were talking about".

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Here's a brief update to the story: While scouting for other BM's in the vicinity of Lords Valley, PA last Friday we stopped to check out LY1148 (directly across the street from the historic Lord House) and encountered a local fellow who related a little history of the area to us, including the removal of the building with the benchmark on it. He also claimed that PennDOT had blasted the rock in which “H 237” was set, probably because it was too close to the roadway. We asked him about George Blain too, and he said he'd passed away a long time ago. (There seems to be a lot of significant history in this area! For example, Levi Lord, whom the area was named for, had come from England on a boat in 1809 and died in 1851 at the age of 89.)


Edited by Rich in NEPA
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