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Bearing Tree

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Has anybody heard of a bearing tree? I came across it on a hike in Wyoming. It is a small yellow metal sign nailed to a treeand very close to it is a benchmark. I am thinking it is up there to help find the benchmark but not sure. I had just never seen one before. Bm is from the Dept of the interior - BLM with the township and range numbers on it. The sign says it is evidently marking a corner of a tract or section. They were located about 50 feet off the main trail. I would appreciate any information on this.

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Sound like you found a witness marker indicating that a BM is nearby, but not one that is in the GC database. BLM marks are not listed here. If you have GPS readings, we might find something close.

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There are also older markers called TOWNSHIP LOCATORS.

A six squares sign with a punch hole(nail) in the portion of the TOWNSHIP in which you are located.

These are hard to find here and are around the 1930"s ERA.

There are also Witness trees.

Some here over 200 years Old now,very few remain.

If you find one of these trees you can submit it here.

HISTORIC TREE REGISTRY

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Bearing trees are used as accessory monuments to section corners within the Public Land Survey System (PLSS), a rectangular system of land division used by more than half of the States in the US. They are also used by other agencies in a similar manner as accessories survey control and monumentation. The proceedures used when surveying PLSS lines and monuments are set forth in the 'Manual of Instructions for the Survey of the Public Lands of the United States'.

 

Chapter 4 of the Manual covers monumentation.

 

From 4-83:

 

'The purpose of an accessory is to evidence the position of the corner monument. A connection is made from the corner monument to fixed natural or artificial objects in its immediate vicinity, whereby the corner may be relocated from the accessory. Thus, if the monument is destroyed or removed, its position may be identified by any remaining evidence of the accessories...'

 

'Accessories consist of (1) bearing trees or other natural objects such as notable cliffs and boulders, permanent improvements, reference monuments; (2) mounds of stone; or (3) pits and memorials...'

 

From 4-85:

 

'4-85. Bearing trees are selected for marking when available, ordinarily within a distance of 3 chains of the corner; a greater distance important. One tree is marked in each section unless a tree in one or more positions may not be available. A full description of each bearing tree is given in the field notes...'

 

From 4-86:

 

'4-86. The marks upon a bearing tree are made upon the side facing the monument, scribed in the manner already outlined for marking tree corner monuments...'

 

Hope this helps.

- Kewaneh

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Thanks everybody for the input on the bearing tree. I will have to keep my eyes open for more of them and some of those other markers - witness trees. :)

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In the days of old when surveyors didn't yet have handy yellow aluminum plates they blazed the tree and carved the info into the trunk. When the bark grows back it makes a nice impression.

 

We have the bark from one of those marks in our office.

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There was a forum recently on witness trees or something like that. The poster logged how it was done step by step. It was a pretty interesting series of pictures.

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Does anyone have an address for the data base for the bearing tree in Washington state? I found the brass marker and tree today while cutting wood.Do they need to be reported?

Edited by stude

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I found a Bearing tree in Central Oregon. I had just found GC15FWP and on the way back to the Jeep I saw the yellow marker. I too, was wondering about these and if we could log them. Thanks for the information.

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Back in the dark ages before SA was turned off I used to love finding bearing trees while doing archaeological surveys in northern Idaho. They along with any benchmarks we might find gave us a firm fix on our location and settled "where the heck are we on the map" discussions. To be honest sometimes I actually miss having to shoot points with a compass and traingulating to map your position, takes a lot less skill to push a button and mark a waypoint, but it is a lot faster and easier. Sound like a retro-grouch don't I?

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We are creating a category at Waymarking called the PLSS.

 

We will so be glad to let you submit these as soon as all the bugs are worked out.

 

No There has been some discussion on the lost art of "Surveying".

I also like learning of the OLD way of finding out where your are.

 

I can't wait to get out my Old(New to me)Transit and start paying around with it more.

I have some old transit survey lines I want to try to locate.

Most of the TP's and other stations can still be found.

 

And using the BT and Section Corners with a transit will give me a better understanding of how it all has changed ever so slightly.

 

I am also going to incorperate my GPS to the Transit and do averageing while transiting.

I already know with the EDM test of my GPS it is more accurate than I predicted.

 

Especially on shorter lines.

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>going to incorperate my GPS to the Transit and do averageing while transiting.

 

If you plan to take any compass readings with your transit (is it old enough to include a compass?) be sure the GPS doesn't pull it off. Any battery powered device could potentially do that. I've found I can't read a compass accurately by light of my pocket mag-light.

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Bill, that must be a heck of a flashlight, or an extremely sensitive compass. I'd have thought there's not enough metals, and certainly not high enough generated magnetic fields to move a compass needle. Doesn't seem to work with my 4D maglight and compass just now. Interesting.

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I re-examined the situation and find it is the steel case of the batteries (alkaline or NiMH) that is doing it. On my Dietzgen brass transit's compass you have to get the battery within several inches to make more than a degree of offset.

 

I saw no difference between flashlight on and off (2-AA maglite), implying the current is symmetrical and produces negligible magnetic dipole compared to the battery cases.

 

In order to get accurate readings I also have to take off the wristwatch (metal expansion band) and remove my shirt-pocket notebook (spiral binding. The flashlight could be used at some distance if absolutely necessary.

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I'm resurrecting an old topic again....

 

Thought some of you would be interested to see this. In October of 2007 while seeking a cache, I stumbled across this bearing tree sign. No tree exists, but the sign still remains. I didn't mark it or take pics at the time. Yesterday I returned to do all of that, except this time I found a USDA/Forestry disc nearby. I know the grasses were higher last year so maybe that's why I missed it; it sticks out like a sore thumb right now.

 

This is located at N41 21.964, W088 01.112.

 

I marked the waypoint while standing between the sign and the disc; GPS accuarcy was 5.4 ft. Looks pretty cool on the topo map. Note the near coincidence of the Old Indian Reservation Boundary Line which also runs thru the area.

 

In each photo below, I am facing east except for the close up of the disc in which I am facing north.

 

1418f2f3-bd18-4a27-9320-acf7b4b11f9a.jpg

 

618f0b2b-470d-44e3-97d4-a03c054deb0b.jpg

 

2c080266-4a53-4a6e-a0eb-14ee16643244.jpg

 

992fb39b-7626-4abf-bf4d-2f4bf77dccad.jpg

 

c47d66ce-f83b-4d7c-9984-b9539f82b414.jpg

Edited by CoyoteTrust

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Some more USFS section corners (Michigan) accessories. Corner is in road, monument is reference to corner.

 

USFS-2.jpg

USFS-1.jpg

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I'm resurrecting an old topic again....

 

Thought some of you would be interested to see this. In October of 2007 while seeking a cache, I stumbled across this bearing tree sign. No tree exists, but the sign still remains. I didn't mark it or take pics at the time. Yesterday I returned to do all of that, except this time I found a USDA/Forestry disc nearby. I know the grasses were higher last year so maybe that's why I missed it; it sticks out like a sore thumb right now.

 

This is located at N41 21.964, W088 01.112.

 

I marked the waypoint while standing between the sign and the disc; GPS accuarcy was 5.4 ft. Looks pretty cool on the topo map. Note the near coincidence of the Old Indian Reservation Boundary Line which also runs thru the area.

 

In each photo below, I am facing east except for the close up of the disc in which I am facing north.

 

 

CoyoteTrust,

 

Nice photos, but near Chicago, Illinois, is the last place I would expect to see US Forest Service land surveys taking place. Is there really any Forest Service land in that area?

 

CallawayMT

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It looks like the newly formed "Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie", possibly related to base closure lands.

 

Bearing trees were taken at almost all of the original PLSS corners where trees were in existence at the time. The practice was to blaze and scribe marks on the blaze indicating location by a particular set of rules, usually indication section, township and range the tree was located in. The species, size and location from the corner of the tree was noted and reported in the GLO field notes of the surveys. In early surveys in the midwest these were also reported in a thing called the descriptive notes which were an abbreviated record and often placed on the back of the survey plats.

 

Much use has been made of these records in inventories of the types of trees that were native on the lands before they were settled and cleared. Doing a search for GLO and bearing trees will lead you to a lot of links.

 

Later surveyors used the trees to verify the locations of the section and 1/4 corners which were often monumented with only wood posts. Some later surveyors such as county surveyors would also use them and sometimes make new bearing trees. The term witness tree is another term usually meaning the same thing.

 

The USFS has always been pretty good about preserving and maintaining their corners and create a record called a corner card. They also have had a fairly agressive boundary maintenance program for the last 20 or so years where they hire surveyors to remark and post their lines. The signs you see are commonly used in that work. The bearing tree tag is used to call attention to the fact that a given tree is a record bearing tree and recites the bearing and distance to the corner that was found by whoever recovered the corner. There are also the township and section location tags we always called 'K-Tags' for some reason have been around since the early 1900's and are used also to mark the direction to a corner from a nearby trail or road.

 

It looks to me like the example given in Illinois is just using the tag as a reference instead of representing an actual bearing tree, but it is possible that there was a tree there at one time. Bearing trees dating from the 1830 or earlier original surveys have been found in the general Chicago area I am told.

 

To find the records that describe the bearing trees you will need to find the location of the GLO (General Land Office) field notes and plats for your area. Counties often have copies. In the west they are still held by the applicable Bureau of Land Management State Office. In the eastern PLSS states they are often in the custody of the state, but a duplicate copy was made and can be in either National Archives or in the BLM Eastern States Office.

 

Illinois has their records on line here: http://landplats.ilsos.net/FTP_Illinois.html

 

Illinois Plats

 

Eastern States has some of their plats on line here (but not Illinois): BLM ES Records

 

Examples of descriptive notes can be found on the Eastern States site in the Michigan records.

 

- jlw

 

CoyoteTrust,

 

Nice photos, but near Chicago, Illinois, is the last place I would expect to see US Forest Service land surveys taking place. Is there really any Forest Service land in that area?

 

CallawayMT

Edited by jwahl

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Nice photos, but near Chicago, Illinois, is the last place I would expect to see US Forest Service land surveys taking place. Is there really any Forest Service land in that area?

 

Thanks. Based on jwahl's response I don't feel I could add much more. Jwahl is probably right in that the mark may be related to Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie in that it is a federal USFS area. Check out that link for more info and history about Midewin -- it's very interesting in that it was the Joliet Arsenal in its heyday.

 

The mark and bearing tree signs are hardly weathered, and they didn't stamp much info onto the sign's blocks (i.e. no date). I only suspect they are from the 1990's time period which is when they decided to reclaim Joliet Arsenal/Midewin.

 

Also, that NE-SW path running near my coords is a multi-use recreational path titled Wauponsee Glacial Trail (maintained by Will County, IL). It was a former railroad and sometime in the 1990's they removed the RR and eventually converted it to its present form. Maybe that, too, ties into the mark's presence ( ? ) BTW it's a great path thru the country.

 

I'll have to look at jwahl's link. Thanks for that info, jwahl.

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