Editor's Note: Thank you.

October 31, 2003
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Here I am eating a well-deserved apple after hiking to the top of Observation Point, 6,508 feet above sea level at Zion National Park.


USGS survey marker from 1928 at Observation Point.
At the beginning of nearly every autumn season, I set out on a vacation, hoping to see new places and learn new things. I often seek out new territory as I did this year, but I also found myself trekking back to a much favored area in Utah: Zion National Park. Although I've been there in the past for sightseeing and hiking its impressive rock trails, it is always a joy to visit. And this time, I'd like to especially thank Leo Snow.

Leo A. Snow was a United States Deputy Surveyor from St. George, Utah, and in 1908 he performed a general land survey of the township that included the canyon of the Utah region. Inaccessible due to very treacherous terrain, the public knew little about this land. Upon completion of his overview, Snow presented his report to the Department of the Interior, which contained glowing remarks about the land's beauty, scenery and amazing geology. Snow's findings were brought to the attention of President William Taft along with a strong suggestion that the area be preserved and designated as a national monument. In 1909, the area was established by presidential proclamation as the Mukuntuweap National Monument, a name given by the local Native American Paiute people (ancestors of the Pueblo people) meaning "straight arrow."

In 1918, after years of mispronunciations (I can relate), Mormon pioneers changed the locally unpopular name "Mukuntuweap" to "Zion" meaning "place of refuge." And on Nov. 19, 1919, the area was made into an accessible national park with visitor accommodations by Act of Congress. It has provided me, personally, with a type of sanctuary through the splendors of its beauty-and for that I thank Mr. Snow.

Before Snow's appreciative efforts, other surveyors were hard at work not far from the Zion region. Beginning in 1869, Major John Wesley Powell completed the first exploration of the canyons around the Green and Colorado rivers. Surveyor G.K. Gilbert was mapping southern Utah at about the same time. In early 1871, Powell partnered with surveyor/professor Almon H. Thompson, Powell's brother-in-law, who began the mapping of the area. As director of the U.S. Geological Survey from 1881 to 1894, Powell helped to expand the practice of topographic mapping throughout the country.

And even today, in 2003, you folks continue to provide invaluable information and immeasurable efforts surveying and mapping our precious land by following in the footsteps of such great men and creating paths for others to follow in the future. For me, as editor of your preferred national publication for surveying and geomatics, I am honored to have this page to share my experiences with you, events that often relate to you and your work.

Thank you, surveyors and mappers.



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