A Day in the Life of a Surveyor: The Compass is Always Correct, Right?

Holding CompassWorking in the White Mountain National Forest presented many challenges. Weather, swamps, mountains and rocks are some examples.

On one project, we were tracing the steps of a previous surveyor to remark one on the boundaries of the Forest Land along the base of a hill. While using the old plan, we found our starting point and used the bearing on the plan to proceed along the line. As we followed the bearing we discovered an old blazed line. We were able to follow the remains of the blaze line and the compass bearing all the way to the next corner. We then setup our control points and located the monuments and blazes. We felt pretty good about finding all this old evidence.

Later, back at the office, one of the licensed surveyors mentioned that there was confusion about what we located. I was surprised and told him that everything seemed to match the compass bearing and evidence from the old survey plan. He then told me that what we located plotted as a curve. The distance from monument to monument was good, but the line was supposed to be straight. What we found was that in this area there was so much iron in the hill that it threw off the compass. Good thing we weren’t lost (see post about “Surveyors DO get lost at times, sort of” Posted on June 7, 2013.

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