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Initial Points

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I read a post recently in which someone mentioned an initial point for a state. So I went surfing and learned a little about the PLSS and initial points. They sound like interesting places to visit.

 

I have a couple questions for those of you who know more about surveying.

 

Is there a list somewhere of all the initial points and their coordinates? I was a little surprised that there doesn't seem to be a website about initial points yet. People love to write webpages about esoteric topics like this. B)

 

Some webpages said there are 37 and some said there are 38. Why would there be a discrepancy in the number of initial points?

 

Lloyd

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For what it's worth.

 

Initial Point is a cache near Initial Point near Kuna Idaho. It's been quite a few peoples first cache including mine. It's located on a cinder cone and it's visible for some distance.

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Initial points are my favorite mark to go find; they are my way of honoring the Surveyors of times past. I really have deep respect for the work they did; they not only were out in the elements, but also were carrying their camp on their backs, fighting off wild animals and indians. They truly were survivors.

 

I have been to the following 7 points in the last 13 months:

Prime Meridian Montana

St. Stephens Meridian

Mt. Diablo Meridian

Boise Meridian

Great Salt Lake Base & Meridian

Willamette Meridian

6th Principal Meridian

 

An excellent resource for the Initial Points of the United States is the following book by C. Albert White.

Initial Points by C. Albert White - Colorado Surveyors Society

 

In Al Whites book he numbers 37 Initial points, yet he does have descriptions for 38 points.

 

Good Luck & happy hunting,

CallawayMT

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Initial points are my favorite mark to go find; they are my way of honoring the Surveyors of times past. I really have deep respect for the work they did; they not only were out in the elements, but also were carrying their camp on their backs, fighting off wild animals and indians. They truly were survivors.

 

I have been to the following 7 points in the last 13 months:

Prime Meridian Montana

St. Stephens Meridian

Mt. Diablo Meridian

Boise Meridian

Great Salt Lake Base & Meridian

Willamette Meridian

6th Principal Meridian

Did not even know there was a Boise Meridian! Went to read your log and was so discouraged to see it was vandalized just like the Willamette Stone! Argh!

 

It is still amazing history but sad about our current history that one person feels they are more important than everyone else and steals them.

 

I am still going to put this on my list of places I want to visit next time I am in Boise.

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Callaway and all,

 

Here is an interesting story about the Willamette Meridian in Northwest Washington State. A story about the Puget Sound Meridian that sort of was, but isn't.

 

Enjoy, It is an interesting read.

 

Rob

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Even,

 

That was an interesting article, somehow I don't remember reading that one; yet those are the articles that I usually devour. POB is starting to lack content, mostly just turning into a catalog for new equipment, which is a good resource when needed.

 

Are you a member of the Washington Surveyors Historical Society? The Surveyors Rendezvous is in Spokane next year, finally will be in an area I should be able to make the time to attend.

 

The history of cadastral is definitely the area of survey which I enjoy most. State lines, canadian-US boundary, I.P.'s & just about anything old like the Missouri River Commission; those are my favorite finds. I am lucky enough to love what I do and get paid to do what I enjoy.

 

Regards,

CallawayMT

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Some webpages said there are 37 and some said there are 38. Why would there be a discrepancy in the number of initial points?

All States that use the Public Land Survey System (PLSS) have an initial point, but some States have more than one initial point and some states have none. For example, California has three initial points: the Mount Diablo Base and Meridian (the primary system used for most of the State), the Humbolt Base and Meridian (in the northwest), and the San Bernardino Base and Meridian (in the south). Nevada does not have an initial point, but uses the Mount Diablo Base and Meridian in California as its inital point.

 

The number of States that have initial points and the actual number of initial points are different which would most likely explain the descrepancy.

 

- Kewaneh

 

c35abe7e-3716-4e9b-b195-fc5002ad935c.jpg

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Nevada does not have an initial point, but uses the Mount Diablo Base and Meridian in California as its inital point.

Intersting that state is over 70% owned by the Federal Govt. doesn't have its own initial point.

 

I looked up the location of the San Bernardino initial point and was surprised to see that there is no NGS mark there. Is that normal for initial points?

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The Al White book is an invaluable resource, but it was before GPS. In the time since he visited most of these points many have been positioned and/or rehabilitated by surveying societies.

 

In the course of the process of starting the rewrite of the BLM Manual of Surveying Instructions, 1973 (which does have a list of the points and their approximate latitude and longitude), a new list has been put together. As a result I have updated values for many of those in the east (East of the Mississippi), and you may find updated values for many of the western points.

 

If you get to the Chickasaw Initial point, let me know. I don't think Al White was looking in the right place.

 

- jerry wahl

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This doesn't have anything to do with benchmarks, but it does relate in a way to initial points.

 

I was reading a book on survey drafting tonight and came across the wildest township I've ever seen. He doesn't say what state or meridian is in use, but most of his examples seem to be in California.

 

Notice that it has section numbers going up to 46 in a strange order, but is missing sec 23 and barely has sec 14.

 

I'd like to know what natural obstacles led to this disarray. I won't accuse the surveyors of being drunk unless it turns out to be reasonably level ground.

 

badtwp.jpg

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California has a lot of these, and in this case it is rough country in the sierra's. There can be many reasons, and it would take a considerable amount of time examining the records to guess the particular reason here.

 

Commonly the original surveys would not survey a complete township, but only enough so that those areas that were fit for agriculture, timber or mining were identified. Shortly thereafter what is called a 'completion' survey would be made to finish the work. To tell the truth I am not sure if there was a change in land office policy, or what but this situation you see time and time again in mountainous country from Colorado to California.

 

In this case the order that townships were being surveyed may also have played a part, so that the surveys were coming into the rough country from the west and possibly up from the south and east.

 

At any rate, if you examined the dates of survey for each line or section I suspect the western few 'tiers' of sections (which look fairly regular) was probably first. then the southeast part of the township next. At some point either then or later, they would have become aware that there was a 2 to 2.5 mile excess between the two, so that there was no way they could put the two parts together. This left a gap of unsurveyed land between the two 'halves'. The completion survey then came in and placed new work in between in this gap, and was forced to use sections over 36 in number to cover the excess in area.

 

I think I may have seen this particular township before, or one very much like it, as there have continued to be title problems in it up until recently.

 

Why would there be such a gap, well some of the early surveys were not executed very accurately and errors could build up. California is also notorious for fictitious or fraudulent surveys which were only partially completed and often have large irregularities.

 

If the township and range are correct, it would appear it is off the Mount Diablo meridian and the center of this township would be:

 

36° 26' 34"N, 118° 50' 12"W (from topozone)

 

Topozone 1:100K

 

So in this case the first survey in the west was run to identify agricultural lands in the river valleys and then the guy gave up when getting into rough country to the east.

 

To fully investigate a given situation you would first get the survey plats and notes from BLM and see what they have to say. There may be additional files that involve the township, investigations, etc. reports that describe what happened. Without that we could possibly identify the dates of survey of each line by examining the BLM's GCDB files which are on the internet.

 

If anyone is interested I could explain that in more detail later.

 

- jerry wahl

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bill93 wrote

Notice that it has section numbers going up to 46 in a strange order, but is missing sec 23 and barely has sec 14.

 

I think that the "sections" numbered above 36 are actualy tracts or lots.

the manual has this:

 

7-5. Special surveys may involve areas of land that are not aliquot parts of sections but are designated as lots or tracts. In common usage the term "tract" is applied to an expanse of land of no particular size, often irregular in form. In modern public land surveys the term is used specifically to mean a parcel of land that lies in more than one section or that cannot be identified in whole as a part of a particular section. It is properly described by tract number and township. Tracts within a township are numbered beginning with 37 or the next highest unused numerical designation to avoid confusion with section numbers.

 

PS. Jerry Wahl has written many interesting articals about cadastral surveying.

see for example: GEODETIC ASPECTS OF LAND BOUNDARIES

AND THE PLSS DATUM

http://www.cadastral.com/cad-datm.htm

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There is another version of that map at http://www.co.tulare.ca.us/government/prop...069%20Index.pdf

 

If you go there, you can click on the "return to county map" in the upper left corner to see the entire county.

 

It looked to me like the angled boundary between sections 34 and 35 might have been placed along a bearing to/from the peak of Case Mountain, but there aren't a lot of obvious reasons for the other features in that township.

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