Point of Beginning

Newsline

October 1, 2005
California museum highlights railroad surveyors; Illinois society opens Museum of Surveying; Lansing Museum of Surveying unveils two new exhibits; and Pennsylvania and North Carolina announce legislative updates.

The museum exhibit depicts a Central Pacific Railroad survey party member laying out the line of the transcontinental railroad route in California's Sierra Nevada mountains during the summer of 1864.

California Museum Highlights Railroad Surveyors

In September, the California State Railroad Museum in Old Sacramento unveiled its renovated displays, which highlight the human face of railroading by focusing on those who performed the diverse, unique and oftentimes demanding work of the railroad. Included among the represented workers are railroad surveyors. The revamped surveyor exhibit, located in the entryway to the museum, displays a surveyor camp from the 1860s. Museum visitors observe representative examples of the most important elements in the building of the first transcontinental railroad. This includes the initial task of locating and surveying the route, as well as the efforts of the Chinese construction workers and the building of snow sheds that permitted winter passage across the Sierra Nevada Range. The first transcontinental railroad, a project initially authorized by President Abraham Lincoln in 1862, tied the eastern and western United States together upon its completion in 1869.

Formerly, the museum's surveyor camp exhibit consisted of one white canvas tent located in a forest setting. The new display incorporates life-like figures representing real surveyors at work on the railroad. Four surveyor figures are featured making various field measurements. Two are employed in transit work, while the others position chaining along a granite ridge. The surveyor mannequin located at the transit is a model of Lewis Clement, the first assistant chief engineer of the Central Pacific Railroad of California who surveyed and laid out the railroad route through the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

Surveying instruments and tools are displayed in showcases in the camp exhibit. Several period instruments were donated from the collection of the late Cecil E. Hanson, former surveyor with the Los Angeles County Flood Control District. In addition, Bud Uzes, PLS, a volunteer technical adviser to the museum and former head of the Boundary Determination Unit of the California State Lands Division, made instruments and tools from his private collection available for the museum's display.

The California State Railroad Museum is operated by California State Parks with assistance from the nonprofit California State Railroad Museum Foundation. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call (916) 445-6645 or visit www.californiastaterailroadmuseum.org.

The Menard County Historical Society building houses the IPLSA museum.

Illinois Society Opens Museum of Surveying

The Illinois Professional Land Surveyors Association (IPLSA) opened the IPLSA Museum of Surveying in Petersburg, Ill., on June 25, 2005. The museum is located in a building owned by the Menard County Historical Society (MCHS). MCHS volunteers staff the museum on a limited basis at no cost to IPLSA.

Bob Church, executive director of IPLSA said, "We are excited to have a land surveying museum in Petersburg, a town that Abraham Lincoln laid out and surveyed in 1836 during his career as deputy county surveyor." The purpose of the museum is to educate the public on the importance of the land surveying profession and the little-known fact that Lincoln served as deputy county surveyor from 1833 to 1837.

The IPLSA Museum of Surveying displays antique surveying instruments, historical survey plats and prints of original drawings of Lincoln's surveying career by the noted Lincoln artist, Lloyd Ostendorf. The antique equipment display includes instruments donated to the museum by The Nancy Baber McNeill Living Trust of California. McNeill was the daughter of Adin Baber, a surveyor from Edgar County, Ill., who wrote the book A. Lincoln With Compass and Chain to detail Lincoln's surveying career as deputy surveyor of Sangamon County, Ill. Originally part of Baber's collection, some of the donated instruments on display include the following: a vernier transit compass manufactured by William J. Young (1800-1870) of Philadelphia, Pa.; a four-vane compass manufactured by Aloe-Hernstein & Company (1860-1940) of St. Louis, Mo.; an 18" wye level, a surveyor's cross transit manufactured by A. S. Aloe Company (1860-1940) of St. Louis, Mo.; a 33' two-pole Gunter's chain (1830s); and a set of 11-18" marking pins (1830s).

The museum is open to the public Monday through Friday from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated. For more information, call 217/632-7363.

An artist's rendering depicts Museum of Surveying patrons interacting with the new "Measuring the Nation" exhibit.

Lansing Museum of Surveying Unveils Two New Exhibits

The Museum of Surveying in Lansing, Mich., opened two new exhibits this month: "Measuring a Nation: A Surveying Timeline" and "Surveying the States: Abe Lincoln, Deputy Surveyor of Sangamon County." These two exhibits in the foyer gallery tell stories about famous surveyors and display the innovative tools they used to measure the United States.

"Measuring a Nation" focuses on the challenges of surveying in North America and the tools that helped surveyors measure and map it effectively. A compass, solar compass, transit and total station stand with the maps that surveyors created using these tools of the time. The display is made to appeal to a wide range of visitors. Children can handle a real Gunter's chain and turn the sight vanes of a model compass. Adult visitors can use the exhibit catalogue to learn technical details about the instruments on display.

The museum's new revolving exhibit, "Surveying the States," has grown from partnerships with state surveying societies across the country. Societies are invited to design and sponsor exhibits at the Lansing museum that highlight an aspect of land measurement specifically tied to their state. The current display is sponsored by the Illinois Professional Land Surveyors Association and tells the story of Abraham Lincoln's time as deputy surveyor of Sangamon County.

The Museum of Surveying is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and is open Saturday and Sunday by appointment only. Admission is free; for more information visit www.surveyhistory.org/ museum_of_surveying_michigan.htm.

Editor's Note: The Geography and Map Division at the Library of Congress, along with the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping, unveiled the exhibit "Maps in our Lives" on September 13. Look to the November issue of POB for a review of the event.

State Legislative Updates

Pennsylvania
The Pennsylvania Society of Land Surveyors (PSLS) reported that Rep. Sue Cornell

(R-Montgomery/Philadelphia) reintroduced a package of bills related to land surveying to the state's House of Representatives. House Bill 494 would impose penalties for destruction of survey monuments. House Bill 495 would lower the time frame during which people can take action to recover damages resulting from any deficiency, defect, omission, error or miscalculation made by any person engaged in the practice of land surveying. Specifically, this bill would reduce the time permitted for recovering damages from 21 years to 12 years. Rep. Richard Grucela (D-Northampton) introduced House Bill 1325 to amend the Mechanics' Lien Law by adding surveyors to the definition of claimant. This bill would allow surveyors to file for a lien against the estate or title of an owner for the payment of debt owed, if that amount exceeds $500. The PSLS provided comment during the drafting of the bill. At press time, both bills were in the House Judiciary Committee.

North Carolina
The North Carolina Society of Surveyors (NCSS) reported that House Bill 901, an act that sought to require surveyors to include soils delineation on plats and to require surveyors to sign or seal work done by soil scientists, was defeated early in the state's legislature session. Also, House Bill 1297, a Good Samaritan-type act, now includes surveying and engineering services. The act provides qualified immunity from civil liability to any volunteer who serves in a medical reserve corps unit or on a community emergency response team while engaged in providing emergency services.

The NCSS also sponsored House Bill 810, an act that strengthens the educational and experience requirements for licensure in North Carolina. It was signed into law by the governor on Aug. 22, 2005. The amended law increases the amount of experience required of applicants for professional licensure who possess high school or associate's degrees and who have not successfully passed the Fundamentals of Surveying exam on or before Jan. 1, 2013. The law now supports a four-year degree option that enables applicants to attain professional licensure in fewer years if they pursue a four-year degree in geomatics. To read the entire text of the amended law, visit www.ncleg.net, and type "HB810" into the "Bill Look-Up" content entry box.