PE&RS November 2015 - page 827

November 2015
to have originally been settled
by Asian peoples during the Pleistocene
(last ice age) that travelled over the land
bridge now represented by the Aleutian Islands of
Alaska, the ancient peoples now known as Native
Americans or “Indians” thrived for thousands
of years in North America. Northeastern coastal
portions of North America were temporarily settled
by Vikings in the first millennium
, but their
colonies did not survive. Again “discovered” by
Christopher Columbus in 1492, the “New World”
was successfully colonized by numerous Western
European kingdoms, with North America primarily
being colonized by Spanish, French, and English
peoples - all at the eventual expense of the “Native
Americans.” The eastern seaboard coast was successfully
colonized primarily by English peoples which consisted of
the original thirteen colonies or states. After the Declaration
of Independence from England was signed on the 4
July in 1776, a revolutionary war was fought and won by
the colonists who named the new nation the United States
of America.
The “Survey of the Coast” was formed by the U.S. Congress
in 1806, and the first Superintendent of the Coast Survey
was Ferdinand Hassler. He travelled back to his homeland,
Switzerland, in order to purchase geodetic instruments crafted
in Aarau. He then returned to commence the triangulation of
the coast and harbors of the thirteen original colonies as a
foundation for the compilation of navigation charts. The new
charts acted as an impetus for the maritime nations of Europe
to make way to the new United States for commerce and
trade. Two major surveys were commenced in the early years
of the nation; one was geodetic in nature and foundation, and
the other was (at least partially), the brainchild of President
Thomas Jefferson; the Rectangular Survey of the Public
Lands. The former as directed by Hassler was a coordinated
classical geodetic triangulation of physically measured
baselines that provided scale to chains of quadrilaterals for the
geometric foundation of control for the planetable & alidade
compilation of coastal charts with soundings. As a convenience
to the casting of planetable sheets with a graticule
in the
, Hassler invented the “American Polyconic” projection.
(The material used at the time for drafting media for the field
compilation of valuable charts and maps was starched linen
– I have a roll of drafting linen that continues to amaze my
The latter type of survey served for the marking of
the Range & Township system of property boundary lines with
each 6 square mile Township being subdivided into (more or
less) 36 aliquot equal-area sections; each measuring one mile
by one mile and containing approximately 640 acres. The
Rectangular Survey is oriented with the cardinal directions,
and consisted originally of traverse distances physically
measured with Gunter’s chains 66 feet in length and magnetic
compasses controlled with solar observations. The original
thirteen colonies were already in the process of being surveyed
according to the traditional European method of metes and
bounds, but the remainder of the United States has since been
surveyed with the rectangular system for property boundaries.
The two basic surveys of the United States have only rarely
been related or collocated, and the methodology of recovering
original monuments and property boundaries is a separate,
legally-licensed profession of “Land Surveying” apart from
the activities of the geodetic surveyor. Curiously, the original
federal Township maps of Louisiana still held at the State
Photogrammetric Engineering & Remote Sensing
Vol. 81, No. 11, November 2015, pp. 827–829.
© 2015 American Society for Photogrammetry
and Remote Sensing
doi: 10.14358/PERS.81.11.827
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