National Museum of Surveying
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The National Museum of Surveying was the Michigan Museum of Surveying, but in 2007, the museum moved to Springfield, Illinois to become a national museum. The museum officially opened in Springfield, Illinois on September 24, 2010. In the 10,000-square-foot (930 m2) space, the museum houses many exhibits on surveying, a room sponsored by NCEES, and the Science on a Sphere. The museum is on the Old State Capitol Plaza, just north of the Old State Capitol. The museum closed in January of 2013.
The museum has three exhibit rooms. The first exhibit room is funded by NCEES. The demographics of surveyors show an aging workforce, and the goal of this exhibit is to inspire students to become surveyors. The donation was $75,000 which was used to construct a 45 seat theater. The theater shows videos on the history and evolution of surveying.
The second exhibit is the museum exhibit on the history of surveying.
History of surveying 
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The first surveyors 
Based on historical evidence, the first surveyors were the Egyptians. Every year the Nile River would flood, which would destroy the property boundaries. As a result, Egyptian men, known as harpedonaptes, would reset the property corners. Harpedonapte means rope stretchers, and these men would use ropes with knots tied at a specific distance and “stretch” the rope out to set the property corners. They used the knots the same way early American surveyors used the chaining pins, to keep track of the distance.
The first surveying tools 
Egyptians receive the credit of inventing the first surveying tools. The top picture is of an Egyptian Plumb-Bob Level. Leveling means determining the horizontal line or plane and determining the difference in height between two points. To use a Plumb-Bob, one would line the Plumb-Bob, the string hanging from the apex, with the mark or tic on the crosspiece. The only way these two objects would line up was if the instrument rested on a horizontal surface. This is much like lining up the sights of a gun. The bottom picture is the first evidence of a surveyor’s cross. This Egyptian Groma was the forerunner of the Roman Groma, and it allowed Egyptians to lay out long lines with respect to each other at right angle. To some extent, we still use the same basic equipment to lay out angles.
The founding father: the surveyor 
George Washington was not only a founding political father of this country, but he was a founding surveyor of Virginia, as well. At the age of eleven, he inherited Ferry Farm. When George reached school age, instead of a career in the Royal Navy, George went to school to study surveying and geometry. His first surveying tools were from his own storehouse on Ferry Farm. While he began surveying at 16, at the age of 17, George Washington, under the tutelage of Joshua Frye, surveyed the northern neck of Virginia. At 17, he became the county surveyor for Culpper County, Virginia. By the French and Indian War, Washington had laid out most of northern Virginia, and this knowledge would allow him to have success during the war.
From 1747 to 1799, Washington surveyed 200 tracts of land, and due to him also being a land speculator, he amassed 65,000 acres (260 km2) of land.
Interracial surveying of District of Columbia 
Surveying was not only for the wealthy plantation owners, but the entire new nation needed to surveyed, and resurveyed. Most of all, the proposed new capital city, bearing Washington’s name, needed to be surveyed. A two-man team would survey the District of Columbia in 1791. The first was Benjamin Banneker, a free ex-slave, who learned to read, write, and do math from his grandmother. Banneker would go on to be a leading astronomer, mathematician, clock maker, and most of all, a surveyor. The second man was Andrew Ellicott. He would go on to do several prominent surveyors of the area, assist Lewis and Clark. These two men laid out the new capital.
The training of the naturalist 
Prior to independence, Peter Jefferson, along with his son Thomas Jefferson, were land surveyors for the crown. At this time, Thomas Jefferson surveyed using a system known as the Metes and Bounds system. The Metes and Bounds system used monuments, identifiable objects, as property markers. The surveyor would measure from monument to monument. The major problem with this system was the fact that these monuments were not necessarily permanent. As a result, Thomas Jefferson was involved in the creation the U.S. Rectangular System. The colored map shows that the original 13 colonies plus Vermont, Maine, West Virginia, Hawaii, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Texas were surveyed using the Metes and Bounds system, while the other new states used the U.S. Rectangular System.
The Birth of the Rectangular System: A Watershed Moment in American Surveying 
Needing money to pay the debts of the Revolutionary War, Thomas Jefferson began selling land in the Northwest Territory in plots of 160 acres (650,000 m2) for $2.50 an acre. Soon after, Jefferson sold the land in plots of 80 acres (320,000 m2) for 1.25 an acre. The NW Territory was surveyed using the Rectangular System. This system used a central point determined by a Principal North-South Meridian Line and an East-West Base line. In Illinois, these two lines met in Centralia, and from this point, 80 percent of Illinois was surveyed. From this point, every 6 square miles (16 km2) saw the creation of a parcel of land known as townships. Each parcel was divided into sections of 1 square mile (2.6 km2). As mandated by law, the government set aside Section 16 for schools. The New Frontier for Surveyors While President, Thomas Jefferson convinced Congress to accept the land deal with Napoleon. As a result of the Louisiana Purchase and Jefferson’s love for nature, Jefferson organized the Lewis and Clark expedition. Andrew Ellicott taught Lewis and Clark how to use a sextant to map their position. Lewis and Clark would leave from Wood River, Illinois, and they would document the wilderness all the way to the Pacific Ocean. Along the way, the two created maps, collected specimens, documented the Native Americans, observed the weather, and facilitated the move westward.
Lincoln: Politics and Surveying 
Abraham Lincoln came to New Salem in 1831, and shortly after in 1832, he lost in his bid to become state representative. The Sangamon County Surveyor, John Calhoun, then offered Lincoln a job as Deputy Surveyor due to the high volume of resurveying. Perhaps due to the respect earned as an honest and fair surveyor, Lincoln would win his 1834 bid for state representative. Lincoln The Surveyor As Deputy Surveyor, Lincoln surveyed five towns, four roads, and thirty properties. The first was the Plat of Huron, a town 30 miles (48 km) North of Springfield that never came to be. The proposal was that county would build a canal to straighten the Sangamon River, but the canal never came to be. The last town Lincoln laid out was New Boston, a town at the confluence of the Iowa River and the Mississippi River. While Lincoln laid out the town, the town did not come to fruition, nor did Lincoln’s payment. Instead of payment, Lincoln had his surveying equipment repossessed and sold. Unknown to Lincoln, Jimmy Short, a friend, bought all of his equipment, his horse, and his saddlebags. Mr. Short returned Lincoln’s surveying equipment, and President Lincoln returned the favor by making Mr. Short the Indian Agent of the Round Lake Indian Reservation.
- Edmond R. Kiely, Surveying Instruments: Their History
- Edmond R. Kiely, Surveying Instruments: Their History