In the last column (January 2012 POB), we began to look at the art of land surveying vs. the science of land surveying. We will continue for the next few columns to explore the difference between the two methods and their impact on modern surveying. First, let’s look at some history.
The story of surveying in our modern era goes back to our nation’s forefathers in England. In these early days of surveying, William Leybourn claimed he was the best surveyor because of his experience in estate surveying, as opposed to merely book knowledge like some of his contemporaries.
The vast expanse of the new colonies highlighted the great need for surveyors. Many of the first surveyors came to this country having received training in England or Europe. They, in turn, others in the art of surveying. There was great reliance on textbooks such as “The Compleat Surveyor: Containing the Whole Art of Surveying of Land,” by William Leybourn, or “Geodaesia: or, The Art of Surveying and Measuring of Land Made Easy,” by John Love. While these books did address geometry, trigonometry and other mathematics related to surveying, they failed to address the differences between surveying in a developed country and surveying in the wilderness. By the time of the founding of the American colonies, estate surveys in England had developed into an art form. These surveys were presented in large, color maps, showing all the improvements to the property. Because the property lines, including stone fences or rock walls, had already been established, very little emphasis was placed on cardinal direction, such as true or magnetic north.
This was not the case in colonial America. The new land was heavily wooded, and all surveys needed direction and location in the vast wilderness. The methods commonly used in the old country simply did not apply. The colonial surveyor worked mainly in the wilderness away from family and civilization for long periods of time. The dangers were many, and most surveyors adopted the ways of the native people in dress and food. After working in the field for many months, in many cases it could have been difficult to distinguish the surveyors from Native Americans.
In the May 2020 issue of POB, find out how mobile spatial imaging technology helped an international construction company to redefine the business of road and railway projects, discover new applications for mobile mapping and steadily drive them toward new opportunities.