- SPECIAL REPORTS
- THE MAGAZINE
FAIRFIELD TWP., Mich. - Two wooden survey stakes dating back to 1824 were unearthed last week during the reconstruction of Weston Road between M-52 and Treat Highway.
Guided by county surveyor Glenn Richard, Lenawee County Road Commission workers dug through as much as 4 feet of soil piled on top of the survey monuments when roadside ditches were dug more than a century ago. It was apparently the first time since 1889 anyone has seen the two survey points established in the unsettled wilderness by government surveyors.
Richard said it is always an important accomplishment to recover lost survey monuments. There is an ongoing program to re-establish and preserve the points mapped out by federal surveyors in the Michigan Territory and used in deeding land to the first settlers. There were 3,500 survey points staked out in Lenawee County, he said, and many have disappeared without any record. Road commission operations manager Robert Lewis took part in the Sept. 5 search on Weston Road and photographed the buried monuments after they were uncovered with a backhoe and shovels.
A road commission reconstruction project on Weston Road opened the opportunity to search for a point at the intersection of Weston Road and Baker Highway and another half a mile east on Weston Road that have been lost for a century or more.
The original survey point was established by United States Deputy Surveyor John Mullett, who laid out one-mile sections in Fairfield Township in 1824. Wood stakes his crew left behind were later preserved by people using stones, bricks and other materials. Someone placed a clay, hexagonal pipe commonly used in dug wells over the stake at what became the intersection of Weston Road and Baker Highway, Richard said.
Local surveyor James Blair left a written record of finding the clay tile with the wooden stake inside during a property survey in 1889.
“I don’t think anyone had found it since then,” Richard said.
Years later a surveyor measured from another monument and established a substitute point at the road intersection that property lines have been based on since then. That newer monument will still be used for measuring local property lines rather than adjusting boundaries to match the original point, which is 2 1/2 feet away.
Blair also left a record of the other lost monument, describing a pointed, granite stone sitting on top of a smaller stone and the original wooden stake.
Road commission workers dug through a layer of dirt that had been excavated from a deep roadside ditch before finding the stone about 4 feet below the surface. It was 3 feet south of where it was believed to be, Richard said. The wooden stake was clearly visible, he said, although it was rotted to the point of being only discolored soil.
The artifacts at both locations were marked with metal stakes and covered over.
“They’re still there, yes. We didn’t take them out,” Richard said. When paving is completed on Weston Road this fall or early next year Richard and road commission workers will be able to set metal survey monument boxes in the asphalt directly over the original stakes and at the substitute points.
“Unfortunately, we don’t have records on every corner in the county,” Richard said.
The Weston Road monuments are among about 100 that are being replaced this year. Approximately 900 of the 3,500 survey monuments in the county have been replaced so far in a remonumentation program started several years ago, he said.
Source: The Daily Telegram, September 14, 2007.