Point of Beginning

Honoring the Expedition

December 1, 2004
A pictorial retelling of this year's Surveyors Historical Society gathering in memoriam of the Lewis & Clark Expedition.

After dreaming for 20 years about exploration of the American continent, President Thomas Jefferson saw his vision come to life when his private secretary Merimether Lewis headed out with Lewis' friend and former commanding officer William Clark on an expedition along the Missouri River. Many thought the route would be a water course to the Pacific Ocean. The three-year expedition led Lewis, Clark and their Corps of Discovery crew through land yet to be owned by the United States, through treacherous waters and hillsides and in contact with territorial Indian tribes.

Beginning on July 4, 2004, 200 years later, the Surveyors Historical Society (SHS), the Missouri Society of Surveyors and the National Society of Professional Surveyors Foundation Inc. gave tribute to Lewis & Clark's Expedition, and the surveying and mapping heritage they provided. The event was held through July 6 in St. Joseph, Mo., where the Corps of Discovery had named the tributary nearest the Missouri River "Independence Creek."

This year's Lewis & Clark-themed event was the annual Surveyors Rendezvous, a celebration and gathering hosted in part by the Surveyors Historical Society. As Milton Denny, PLS, a "regular" of the events notes, "The formal program makes up only part of the fun of the Rendezvous. The always popular surveying equipment "˜flea market' [swap] was held at Klug Park along with field demonstrations of the sextant and other historical equipment."

As a whole, these events are a great tribute to important figures of surveying's past. Surveyors Rendezvous '05 will take place in Spokane, Wash., in September. The event will be a salute to the famous Canadian surveyor David Thompson and a memoriam of the Lewis & Clark Expedition return voyage.

Thomas Jefferson (aka David B. H. Best) shows visitors some of his most prized possessions and recounts details of the Lewis & Clark Expedition.

Mike Besch portrays Thomas Hutchins and Ann Besch, Hutchins' "courtesan." Mike likes to portray Hutchins because of his important surveying roles in Ohio (including geographer of the U.S. Land Ordinance of 1785) and because there are few if any pictures of him. The Beschs have never found any reference to a wife, thus the term of courtesan.

Mike Besch (left), advisor to the University of Akron team and dressed as early Ohio surveyor Thomas Hutchins, joins with costumed Corps of Discovery members (aka Akron students) Sergeant John Colter (Joel Metzger), Sergeant Patrick Gass (Dan Engle) and Captain William Clark (Jared Akins).

Milton Denny (as Andrew Ellicott) "passed the hat" to help the Museum of Surveying in Lansing, Mich., attain funds for its current capital improvement campaign. The ol' surveyor (Norman Brown) counts the money that was contributed.

ACSM Past President Jud Rouch (left) and Roger Woodfill, Surveyors Historical Society administrator, discuss a painting by Dean Cornwell, commissioned in 1954 by the New York Life Insurance Company to commemorate the sesquicentennial of the Lewis & Clark Expedition. The Surveyors Historical Society has commissioned a limited edition reprint of the painting to commemorate the bicentennial of the expedition.

SHS member and re-enactor Greg Duncan (left) stands with Bob Dorian, a retired history teacher and re-enactor from Missouri who portrayed Private John B. Thompson of the Lewis & Clark Expedition.

Angie Weiss, Duane Weiss, SHS president, and Chas Langelan, SHS board member, strike a pose amid the Rendezvous festivities.