Thursday, May 28, 2009

More metal disks

Besides the water tank and geocaches, we also found several benchmarks this past weekend. I've written about benchmarks many times in the past, but for new readers, benchmarks are things placed in the landscape that are usually fairly permanent, which allow surveyors to do their work. Of the benchmarks we found this weekend, three were relatively easy to do since they were near geocaches we were searching for at the time. In fact, we actually did better finding the benchmarks than we did finding the geocaches, finding one cache while finding three benchmarks. In all fairness, one cache was near two benchmarks, but we posted a DNF on the other cache.

My friend Chaosmanor enjoys hunting benchmarks. He also enjoys submitted reports to help update the benchmark database. As of this post, he has logged 192 benchmarks. He doesn't submit reports for all of them, but I'm sure he's submitted a great many of those 192 benchmarks. My paltry 27 benchmarks pales in comparison. I would like to add when I found we were near some benchmarks, I made it a point to let everyone know that I was interested in finding them, not just get them if we got close. We actually made these benchmarks part of our focus of the day, not a sidelight.

Of the four benchmarks I logged on Saturday, I would say only one was the classic type from the US Coast and Geodetic Survey (USGS). There have been other types of benchmarks added to the database in recent years, so there are now more opportunities to find and log benchmarks. The other benchmarks found on Saturday came in two different types. One was just a nail with a small disk attached to it on the base of a bridge. If you were to go out in your front yard, you might find a similar looking thing along the curb in front of your house. Where I used to live, I had two of them, one on each side of my property. The nails/smallish disks marked the edge of my property line from my neighbor's.

The other type of disks I encountered on Saturday was similar to the classic USGS disk, only they were smaller. One was found in the base of a flag pole outside of a fire station. This particular benchmark was a county engineer benchmark, placed in 1966. According to Chaosmanor's log from 2004, the firemen who worked at the station were unaware of the benchmark or it's significance. As I posted in the first post linked above, many people are unaware of benchmarks, even when they pass them on a daily basis. They are basically overlooked.

The other disk was attached to an old bridge, much like the classic USGS disk we found earlier in the day. Many old bridges tend to have these benchmarks, mainly because the bridges can be viewed as fairly permanent structures. The bridge where we found the cache and benchmarks had been bypassed by the road that used to travel over it. As cars were whizzing by at 60 mph, we were checking out a cache and nearby benchmark in relative peace, with the exception of the road noise 40 feet away.

The benchmark, which was placed by the Flood Control District, had been painted over. I've actually seen this a lot. One of the first benchmarks I logged has now been painted with red paint because it's on a curb and the city of Claremont, CA wants everyone to know there's no parking at this location. Couldn't they have done this without painting over the benchmark?

As I continue to explore back roads, I'll probably end up finding more benchmarks. Sometimes, I've even found myself looking at older structures and bridges wondering whether there is a benchmark placed on it. I would suspect with satellites and other technology, that benchmarks, although useful, might not be utilized as much as they were in the past. Probably? Maybe? A lot has changed in my lifetime and who knows if they'll still be used in the future. In any case, I'll continue to look for them when I can. They're sort of a link to bygone days, when everything in life tended to move a little slower.

Pictures were taken at or near the following geocaches:
Bridge, Benchmark and Booty - by Yosemite John and Debbie
Ode to my GPS - by The Long Riders and glh
Bridge, Benchmark and Booty II - by Yosemite John and Debbie

Profile for Webfoot

1 comment:

P.J. said...

Benchmarks are pretty cool to grab. I wish more people would list them in their cache descriptions that ones are near -- it's always nice to get both.

We found a couple in Canada this past weekend, but for some reason it shows its in New York. Interesting stuff.