A View from the Summit
May 17, 2011
When I first heard about the NSPS Surveying USA event, I was eager to lend a hand. I believed the event could help us bring a sense of what surveying is to members of our community who are not surveyors. The opportunity to meet the public and to discuss and promote surveying with them while collecting data on a historic site was one that I did not want to miss. A chance to be with friends who share that same goal was also a decided benefit.
I have always appreciated the supportive atmosphere of the Massachusetts Association of Land Surveyors and Civil Engineers (MALSCE). I try to attend regular monthly meetings and get involved. The economic strain is still apparent among members of our profession, and MALSCE has made concessions to members such as forgoing dues for members who are lacking employment. The sociable and noble spirit of our profession is reflected in our membership.
We began discussing our participation in the NSPS Surveying USA event at one of the MALSCE meetings earlier this year. Donald Poole, PLS, was the MALSCE event coordinator. I was part of a team that decided to occupy a first-order triangulation station originally named Wachusett near the summit of the Wachusett Mountain in Princeton, Mass. The other team members were Ken Strom, PLS, Bill Trutor, Monika Bruzkova, LSIT, Chris Pera, PLS, and his son Caleb. A. Richard Vannozzi, MS, PLS, NSPS governor of Massachusetts and a faculty member at University of New Hampshire, arranged to let us borrow a GPS receiver from the university for the four-hour occupation.
On March 19, 2011, the Wachusett Mountain team gathered at the trailhead. It took approximately one hour for us to hike the ice-covered trail to the summit with all of our survey gear, backpacks and cameras. We also used Ken’s sighting compass and fiberglass tape to recover several reference marks.
The station we occupied for the NSPS Surveying USA event was established as part of the original triangulation network for our state the station is a punch mark at the center of a one-inch copper plug set within a 7-inch triangle chiseled in rock.
Here is a detailed description of the triangulation station WACHUSETT 2, 1896-1936 from the note cards:
The station was originally established by Simeon Borden in 1833 in a detached rock at this site, but when the hotel was built the rock was moved and later replaced. In 1895 a new determination of the position was made by J. B. Tolley of the Massachusetts Topographical Survey Commission and the station renamed WACHUSETT 2, 1896. Later the rock was again removed and replaced. In November, 1936, the Massachusetts Geodetic Survey reset the station from the five existing reference marks. The ledge at the site, and the bottom of the rock containing the original plug, were carefully cleaned and the rock firmly cemented to the ledge, with the station a little below the surface of the ground for protection.
I participated in my first GPS project in 1990, when the constellation of satellites allowed observations within a four-hour period. Still, it was an opportunity to experiment with advancing technology, and I looked at that opportunity as a chance to learn and grow with the people who were willing to accept the challenge of changing technology.
The NSPS Surveying USA event gave me insight into the enormous effort of early surveyors using the most advanced technology of their day. Because of my experience that day, I gained more respect for the surveyors who have gone before us and their efforts in helping us understand our world through maps and measurements. I hope I helped others we met that day understand the significance of our surveying profession-past, present and future.