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banner - The coast survey on the pacific coast

T. J. Maher,
H. and G., U.S.C. and G. Survey Inspector, San Francisco Field Station

With the possible exception of those who have only had a few years service, I believe that every Coast Survey officer has used or referred to surveys or reports made by those who took part in the work during the early days of the existence of the organization. The normal reaction of any officer who comes in contact with this old work would probably be one of comparison with the work of today, which should naturally lead to a comparison of men and a comparison of methods.

During part of my first years in the service I was under the direction of those who may be referred to as the last of the old school. What impressed me then, and what, upon reflection today, causes a feeling of respect and admiration for these men was their firm adherence to what I believe are the fundamentals underlying the success of this bureau, the success that has rendered it impregnable to all attacks; these are accuracy and attention to detail. They were not in sympathy with the idea that their views might be construed as an indication of narrow-mindedness or of a failure to grasp those so-called broad principles which consider generalization in surveys as a mark of efficiency and economy. These they viewed in their proper light - as a cloak for inefficiency and incompetency. At times, surveys based on such so-called broad principles have been temporarily useful in meeting some urgent need, but they are unsuited for any other purpose and constitute an inferior class of work. Such attention to accuracy and detail could not help but develop powers of observation, and a perusal of the reports submitted by those of the old school will show this to be so. These men had no patience with those who advocated an adjustment of standards of accuracy to what might be termed the commercial importance of the places to be surveyed at the time the work was to be undertaken. The belief that such an elastic system is conducive to economy or increased output is entirely false, although many specious arguments in support of such a belief have been advanced by the noisy uninformed.

For some years, I had the impression that the work of the present generation of Coast and Geodetic Survey officers was superior to that of those who have preceded us. I now believe that to be a fallacy. This conclusion has been arrived at from a personal comparison of numerous old and recent topographic sheets, sheets which have been used in law suits and legal battles, suits in which the Federal Government was defendant in claims for damages for over a million dollars, and on the outcome of which depended other claims bringing the amounts to over two and a half million dollars. There have been great improvements in our work, but these are almost entirely the result of the development and use of mechanical devices, such as sound ranging equipment, echo sounding machines, power sounding machines, aerial photography, wire drag apparatus, new types of levels and theodolites.

An examination of the history of any progressive organization generally shows that there are certain years or periods which stand out above all others as marking changes in policy, changes in methods, development, expansion or retrogression. This statement is quite applicable to the Coast and Geodetic Survey. That period which marks its first progressive step commenced about 1849 when its first parties appeared on the Pacific coast, as the early history of the Survey will show.

The early years of the Coast and Geodetic Survey really marked a struggle for existence. The development of the organization as we know it today, and the creation of those standards of accuracy which have so well anticipated the needs and demands of a century of the greatest engineering progress that the world has ever seen, may be considered as dating from 1832. The period from 1832 until about 1849 was one of development of personnel and of methods. How well the work was done will be readily seen when we consider and analyze how the bureau was able to meet the great strain thrown on it by the demand for immediate surveys of the Pacific coast, caused by the most spectacular expansion in shipping ever known, resulting primarily from the discovery of gold, in California. This growth is well shown by a quotation from a letter dated October 26, 1849, written by William Pope McArthur, then in California: "The increase in population is truly wonderful. Let us estimate San Francisco at 100,000 souls, Sacramento City 40,000 and Stockton 35,000 or yearly. Eighteen months ago there were scarcely 100 people in all three."

Those familiar with navigation will readily appreciate, after glancing over the following statistics, the problem which confronted the Coast Survey when called upon to furnish charts of an area of which there were no adequate surveys, and only a few sketchy charts based on the reconnaissance of early explorers: In the first three-quarters of 1849 no less than 509 large vessels entered the Bay of San Francisco. At the end of August of that year, there were 62,000 tons of shipping in the harbor. In 1848 the resources, the population and geography of California were almost unknown. At the end of 1855 there were registered, licensed, and enrolled in the Custom House of San Francisco, 702 vessels of a tonnage of 79,309. The amount of gold shipped per manifest from San Francisco in 1849 was $4,921,250; in 1850 - $27,676,346; in 1853 - $57,331.024. The average amount of gold taken from the country from 1850 - 1857 was $55,000,000. The average value (for the United States) of the exported cotton crop for the same period was $100,000,000, and of bread stuffs and provisions $55,500,000. The commerce was water-borne - it was carried in ships. Charts were needed and the Coast Survey successfully met the demand.

The first definite action of the Coast Survey toward making surveys of the Pacific coast was in the fall of 1848, when William Pope McArthur, James S. Williams, and Joseph S. Ruth were ordered by the Superintendent of the Coast Survey to the west coast. McArthur proceeded by way of Panama. The demand for transportation from that place to San Francisco was heavy. No vessels were available, so the ship HUMBOLDT, then anchored off Tobago Island, and was used for the storage of coal, was put in commission. McArthur was prevailed upon to accept the position of captain. On May 21, 1849, she proceeded to San Francisco.

The Coast Survey Steamer EWING arrived in San Francisco in September, 1849, and McArthur assumed command. Wages ashore were very high, ranging from five to twelve dollars per day. Sailors were paid very small amounts by the government, and great difficulty was experienced either in keeping or in getting crews. McArthur was faced with insubordination and mutiny. Five men in a small boat attempted to desert, throwing an officer overboard. Fortunately McArthur witnessed the incident and rescued the man. The deserters were captured, tried and punished. For weeks he had been confronted by the discouraging situation of having his vessel lie idle in San Francisco Bay, while the government refused to pay the wages demanded by the sailors, and it was not until April 3, 1850, that McArthur was able to pass through the Golden Gate, headed north for reconnaissance of the coast. He also intended to stop at Georges Pt. (Pt. St. George?) to secure the bodies of Lieutenant Richard Bache, (younger brother of Professor Bache) and of Lieutenant Robert L. Browning, who were drowned on March 30, 1857, while making some special surveying investigations.

McArthur returned to San Francisco in August, 1850. He made a survey of the mouth of the Columbia River as far as Astoria, and his statements regarding the commercial importance of that section have been fully supported by subsequent events. He made a reconnaissance survey of the coast from Cape Disappointment to San Francisco. Nine tenths of the way was sailed within one half mile of the shore, and every river, bay and headland was visited. This was truly a remarkable piece of work. The three sheets covering that area are on a scale of 1:850,000. The plates were engraved and the charts were printed and published within twenty days after the receipt of the drawings in the Washington office. His Coast Pilot notes of this coast may be considered as the first which furnished the mariner with accurate detailed information.

On November 21, 1850, McArthur received word from Professor Bache that a contract was being signed for a 225-ton steamer for the Pacific coast, and that he was directed to return to Washington to examine the vessel and prepare plans for the season of 1851. He sailed from San Francisco on December 1, was taken seriously ill, and died on December 23, 1850, just as the OREGON was entering Panama Harbor. This was a serious blow to the service, which lost a capable, aggressive and enterprising officer; one who in his short but brilliant career was continually confronted with adverse conditions, but no matter how difficult the situation. He always carried to a successful conclusion any project on which he was engaged. That he was possessed of unusual qualities of leadership may be inferred from the incident at Panama where, within a very short time after landing, he was chosen to suppress a state of disorder and lawlessness with which the authorities were unable to cope. Within forty-eight hours he had the situation well under control. He was succeeded by Lieutenant Commander James Alden, whose name for many years was closely linked with hydrographic surveys along the Pacific coast.

In 1850 a number of young men were sent from Washington, D.C., to the Pacific coast, amongst whom was George Davidson. His biography is really the history of the Coast Survey work along the Pacific coast from its inception for a period of over fifty years - from the Mexican border to the Arctic. He became one of the foremost men in scientific and engineering circles, and distinguished himself in astronomical work, taking observations for longitude by moon culminations, observations for latitude, and for determination of magnetic declination. At Cape Orford (Cape Blanco) the party was in constant fear of interruption from the natives, and at Cape Flattery it was necessary to entrench and keep a regular watch. Considering the difficulties experienced in traveling, his movements were very rapid.

In 1852 James S. Ruth was drowned through the capsizing of a whaleboat while making a survey of the Columbia River.

In 1853 the Pulgas Base, lying about 35 miles southward of San Francisco, was measured by the party of R.D. Cutts. A brief description of the work may provide the means for an interesting mental comparison with modern methods. "Nearly twelve working days, between June 11 and June 27, 1853, were expended in the actual measurement of 2,627 four-metre boxes, and the final corrected length was found to be 10,512.06 metres. The extremities were marked by permanent monuments. The measurement was executed with two iron rods of a half-inch diameter, each of which was four metres long. The ends were squared and one side of each was plated and marked with the limiting line. Ten comparisons of each with the Hassler two-metre bars E and H were made before and after the measurement. Two inflexible oak-plank boxes and four trestles were employed for carrying and supporting the rods. Previous to each contact, the rod was leveled by a spirit level with blocks and wedges. The alignment was made by a ten-inch Gambey theodolite, from 150 to 300 metres in advance. The contact was observed by means of the silk thread of a plumb-bob suspended in a bucket of water; and when this was correctly adjusted, the advance rod was clamped and the rear box carried forward. The reading of an attached thermometer was recorded for each contact, and Hassler's proportional rate of expansion, 0.000006963535 was used for the temperature reduction. This base was connected through a chain of 17 triangles to the San Jose Base, a preliminary base of a length of 941 metres, with a discrepancy of 0.03 metre. Two facts will probably be noted: First, the means for base measurement were slow and cumbersome; second, persistence and attention to detail produced an accuracy comparable to what we obtain today.

During the following years triangulation was extended from the Pulgas Base to Yolo County, where it was tied in with the Yolo Base, which was measured in 1881. The triangulation from the Pulgas Base gave a length to the Yolo Base which exceeded its true length by 0.35 meter, a difference which is equivalent to about 1/50,000 of the actual length.

The Yolo Base was measured with an exceedingly high degree of accuracy. Compensating bars 5 meters in length were used in the measurement, by placing them end to end. The work was done under a moveable cover or shed. The actual length of the base is 17,486.512 meters. A preliminary measurement had been made by Assistant Colonna in August, 1880, in connection with the spirit leveling of the line. He used a 50-meter steel wire under constant strain, and obtained a length of 17,485.4 meters. A second wire measurement was made in September 1881 by Assistant Gilbert, which fell short 0.6 meter of the true length, giving a discrepancy of about 1 in 30,000.

In the measurement of the Yolo Base, there were twenty-four persons on the party including the Chief of Party Davidson, Assistant Gilbert, and Sub Assistants Dickins, Pratt, and Blair. Three separate measurements were made necessitating the laying of 8,494 bars, and the total number of working days was 46. The value then obtained for this base is the same as that given in the latest publications by the Coast and Geodetic Survey on California Triangulation.

In 1853 the vessel in which Sub-assistant J.S. Lawson was proceeding to Tomales Bay was wrecked on the bar. He succeeded in saving all of the instruments and all of the equipage. The vessel went to pieces shortly after, but through the presence of mind of Mr. Lawson, the work-proceeded without interruption.

Lieutenant W. P. Trowbridge, U.S.E., Assistant in the Coast and Geodetic Survey, in charge of tidal observations along the Pacific coast, called attention to unusual fluctuations on the curve traced by the self-registering tide gage at San Diego for December 23 to 25, 1853. An examination of the record from the gage at San Francisco for the same period showed similar irregularities. Reports, which are the basis for the following remarks, were received later from Japan of a very violent earthquake on December 23, 1853. Simoda (Shimoda) suffered dreadfully. Several shocks were felt. The sea rose in a wave four fathoms above its usual height, and when it fell back it left but four feet of water in the harbor. It rose and sank this way five or six times, covering the shore with the wrecks of boats, junks, and buildings. The distance from San Diego to Simoda (Shimoda) is about 4917 miles, and from San Francisco to Simoda (Shimoda) 4527 miles. This matter was not passed over in a cursory manner. The curves were analyzed and all available information was studied. The tide gage at San Francisco had been established in 1852, and irregularities in the records were noted on two occasions previous to that mentioned, but there is no note of their having been given equal attention. These records from the Pacific coast mark the entry of the Coast and Geodetic Survey into what is now one of its most important lines of investigation - Seismology. Earthquake disturbances are frequently recorded by tide gages.

The tidal observations started in 1852 along the Pacific coast were subjects of great interest and study, and may be considered as the stimulus for the intensive study of tidal phenomena which followed. The type of tide experienced, through its great diurnal inequality, differed from that observed on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts. The results of the studies were communicated to the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 1855 the Coast and Geodetic Survey published tables by means of which the times and heights of tides at a number of ports on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts could be found.

Lieutenant Trowbridge, in 1855, when endeavoring to make tidal observations in the vicinity of the Straits of Fuca found the natives very hostile. They attempted to sell poisoned provisions to Mr. Russel, and used every stratagem to get possession of the schooner used by him for making tidal observations at Nootka Sound; however, the observations were made.

In 1854 Davidson wrote a very complete Coast Pilot of the Pacific coast waters of the United States. By 1854 fifty-five surveys, extending from San Diego to Rosario Straits were completed. Many of these sheets, which have been examined by the writer, exhibit a degree of craftsmanship which is unexcelled. Some have been of inestimable value to the Federal Government, a value arising solely from the fact that only one standard was accepted. Specific instances will be mentioned later.

In the year 1855, William P. Blake submitted a very interesting report on the physical geography and geology of the California coast and the mountain ranges, with reference to the Channel and other coastwise island indicating the possibility of submerged peaks, a conclusion confirmed by later investigations.

The activities of Coast Survey officers were quite varied. During December 1855 and the early months of 1856, the Coast Survey Steamer ACTIVE took part in the quelling of an Indian rebellion in Washington Territory. Experiments were made in 1856 to determine the feasibility of substituting lunar spots instead of the moon's limbs in transits for determining the difference in longitude.

For many years after the commencement of its work along the Pacific Coast one of the duties of the Coast Survey officers was to make investigations of sites for lighthouses. Their reports were submitted to the Lighthouse Board.

On January 9, 1857, the party of Assistant Greenwell felt a rather severe earthquake which caused long cracks 6 to 8 inches across in the bed of the Santa Clara River. In his report he states: "I was interested to know whether my signals remained unchanged, but in subsequent measurements no difference could be detected in the angles." This is perhaps the first time that triangulation was considered as affording a means for the determination of earth movements. Observations of that nature now constitute a very important part of the Coast Survey work. At that time an examination was also made of the records from the tide gages at San Diego and San Francisco, but there were no indications of any disturbance of the water.

In 1858 the Coast Survey Steamer ACTIVE was placed at the disposal of the State Department for duty in connection with the determination of the Northwestern boundary of the United States. In order to meet the requirements of the Commissioner on the Northwestern Boundary of the United States, sub-assistant James S. Lawson was reassigned to duty in that section. The following is an extract from his report: "In the execution of this work I had to contend against two very severe drawbacks. The very great refraction, and the drawback in the destruction of signals by the Indians - one of the signals twelve miles from the vessel, being thrown down twice in succession, could be reached only by crossing dangerous tide rips and pulling against the strong currents for which these waters are noted." In that year the Pacific Coast Directory by Davidson was published. It is an excellent document, one which perhaps has only been exceeded in value by his own later works. It is one which the layman can read with interest, one which furnishes the navigator with the data he required, and one which could be well used as a model for subsequent work. In 1858 the list of surveys along the Pacific coast included 110 titles. In 1862 a revised edition of Davidson's Pacific Coast Directory was published.

On May 20, 1867, sub-assistant Julius Kincheloe, together with five of the crew of six hands were drowned as the result of breaking seas which capsized his boat outside of Tillamook Bar. He had completed his survey of the lower part of the Tillamook River, and its approaches, and had waited patiently for an opportunity to verify the soundings by a concluding line across the bar. During a period of smooth water he succeeded, after two vain attempts. His work was done, when by an unexpected breaker the boat was swamped, and by a second breaker it was capsized at a distance of about a mile and a half from land, and within the very sight of his wife. In looking over the records of the pioneers in the service, one cannot fail to note the general prevalence of this spirit of sacrifice.

The work of the Coast Survey along the Pacific coast gradually became established in a well-organized manner, and its progress met fairly well the needs of marine interests of those times. The acquisition of Alaska resulted in an urgent demand for charts of that territory. The Coast Survey promptly proceeded to outfit parties for survey work in that area, although no adequate provision was made for an increase in personnel, or for additional equipment to handle this enlarged program. George R. Davidson and a party were directed to proceed to Alaska, on reconnaissance. They left Victoria in the cutter LINCOLN on July 29, 1867. Under date of November 30, 1867, he submitted a complete report designated "The Directory of Alaska", which for excellence compares very favorably with his earlier publication - "The Directory of the Pacific Coast." In 1869 his Coast Pilot of California, Oregon and Washington Territory was published.

Another very notable period in the growth of the Coast Survey might be considered as dating from the approval of the Act of March 3, 1871, wherein the extension of the geodetic connection between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the United States was authorized. The result of this is the great scheme of triangulation along the 39th parallel of latitude, one of the most famous arcs in the history of geodesy. The need for this was really due to the great commercial development of the Pacific coast region, with the consequent increased valuation of interior lands, the need for control points for surveys and the necessity for tying together the different coastal surveys.

A few details regarding the work of some of those who were engaged on this triangulation in California and a few extracts from their reports may be worthy of attention. George Davidson organized his party and took the field near the end of May, 1874, after arranging to occupy first Mount Lola (9167 feet high) and next Round Top, the summit of which is 10,430 feet above sea level. The route to the last named station was greatly impeded by snow until late in June. The party went to Mt. Lola by way of Lake Independence, and had only 14 miles of teaming in a rise of 1200 feet. The summit was reached by packing and sledding 5 miles over snow in a rise of about 2800 feet. Much difficulty was encountered in consequence of drifts. Officers, men and animals sank in the snow to their knees. Assistant Davidson went to the summit on the 9th of June, and then encountered a flurry of snow and found the temperature below the freezing point. He selected an azimuth mark somewhat more than 5 miles distant from Mount Lola, and in so doing, guarded as far as possible against the effect of horizontal refraction. For horizontal direction and azimuth, the 20-inch theodolite No. 115 was mounted on the cast iron repeating stand devised by him. Observations were taken and recorded at 23 positions on the limb of the instrument, and the readings were made with three micrometers with circle direct and reversed.

Assistant Davidson, having stationed Assistant Colonna at Mount Shasta, succeeded in measuring two angles in the great triangle Lola - Shasta - Helena, having side of 136, 169, and 191 miles. The success in getting observations on the Mount Shasta station was due to the persistence of Assistant B. A Colonna, who passed nine days and nights on the summit of Shasta, the elevation of which is about 14,000 feet above sea level. Upon reaching the summit the carriers and packers immediately returned to the valley. The two men retained by Colonna aided him in pitching a tent. Before night one of them was taken ill, and the next morning went down the mountain and did not return. The coldest temperature recorded at the summit was 18 degrees. For azimuth Davidson observed on two stars in 23 positions of the instrument. The observations were referred to an azimuth mark and also to a collimator.

As at Lola, horizontal angles were measured at Round Top during all kinds of weather. Referring to the conditions of the atmosphere late in September Davidson wrote: "I have stood hours at the instrument to get twenty minutes work, and sometimes to get nothing. The cold was severe, and in the last snow, which was 15 feet deep on the trail, we pulled ourselves up to the station by means of a life line through snow breast high when the air temperature was near zero." From Round Top the lines of the triangulation range at 38, 54, 67, 58, 68, 45, 107, 120, 146, and 160 miles. At the two stations, 3,148 observations were recorded for determining the azimuth, and 3,310 measurements of horizontal angles were made.

Davidson made a study of the size of heliotrope required for lines of different lengths, and according to his researches, he found that a heliotrope with a reflecting surface of 77 inches sufficed for a line of 192 miles. He compared the observed and computed latitudes at Mount Lola, and found a deviation of the plumb line to the north amounting to 5".8, and the deviation at Round Top to be 4".4.

In 1879 Assistant Hergesheimer was sent to the Pacific coast to make a study of the topographic features for use in devising proper symbols for the Manual of Topography. He made a very thorough investigation, and his report indicates that he had a sufficient knowledge of geology to realize that the use of proper symbols would convey valuable information to the engineer.

The following statement made in 1885 is one with which we are all familiar. It describes a condition which existed for a year, and I believe that to this failure to make the necessary appropriations may be attributed a great loss of lives and a loss of vessels whose value probably exceeded all that had ever been spent on Pacific Coast surveys. "On the Pacific Coast much difficulty is experienced in executing hydrographic work, for not only is the coast a difficulty one to work upon, but the small appropriation permitted only a small portion each year to be spent on actual field work.

"The repair and outfit of the vessels are at a cost almost double what it would be on this coast, (Atlantic), while the wages of men are also much higher, as, for instance, a seaman in the Merchant service gets from $40 to $70 per month, in other branches of the Government service he receives about $40, while seamen on board Coast and Geodetic Survey vessels who are shipped on Naval Rolls receive only $24. This is made up to about $30 under the allowance for subsistence, but as the appropriations will permit it for only four or five months out of the year it can readily be seen that good men do not remain in the Survey for any length of time."

In the 80's the Coast and Geodetic Survey had several ships operating on the Pacific Coast, generally on a part time basis, as the result of insufficient funds. Amongst these may be mentioned the PATTERSON, GEDNEY, McARTHUR and COSMOS. The PATTERSON and GEDNEY were assigned mostly to Alaskan waters.

While looking through old records, I found an item which describes the passage of the Launch COSMOS across the Columbia River Bar in 1888, during a heavy gale. This vessel is perhaps one of the most famous in the annals of Cast Survey history, was the home, at some time or other, of nearly every Coast Survey officer of the rank of Lieutenant-Commander and above, and has also been the home of Navy officers who have since reached the rank of Rear Admiral. The tonnage of the COSMOS was 25, her length 52.5 feet, beam 12 feet, and draft 4 feet and she carried about 4 to 5 tons of coal. I will quote extracts from an item regarding an incident which was often mentioned in the wardroom of Survey ships.

"The Steamer PATTERSON left San Francisco May 4, 1888, for Alaska, with the new steam launch COSMOS in tow. In immediate command of the COSMOS was Ensign A.P. Niblack. While passing through a severe gale, on May 5, off Cape Gregory (Cape Arago), the hawser used in towing the COSMOS snapped, and the two vessels parted company. The PATTERSON reached Port Townsend on May 11. When the hawser broke, one of the firemen on the COSMOS was disabled, and while crossing the bar of the Columbia River through three miles of breakers, a heavy sea made a clean breach through the deck-house, flooded the engine room and galley, broke the water gauge and stopped the engine. The machinist Maurice Golden, though bruised and stunned, stuck to his post, and by his coolness and bravery further damage to the launch was prevented, and she was enabled to steam under the lee of a pilot tug and so was shielded from the terrible force of the seas. At Astoria every assistance was rendered by the Commanding Officer of the Steamer McARTHUR, and on the morning of the 11th the COSMOS followed that vessel across the bar. That evening, off Destruction Island, a fishing schooner was sighted showing signals of distress. She had on board the shipwrecked crew of the fourmasted ship OCEAN KING. The captain, two mates, and crew of 22 men were taken off by the COSMOS and landed at Port Townsend, which place she reached on the night of May 12."

The story, as I have heard it from those who were in the service at the time, is that one of the crew was seriously injured, and that he required medical treatment so badly that the officer in command of the COSMOS decided on risking his vessel as well as the lives of all in getting her through the breakers to get the necessary medical assistance at Astoria. I was also informed that those in the PATTERSON gave up the COSMOS as lost, and were most pleasantly surprised when she arrived at port Townsend one day later than the PATTERSON.

In 1889 Davidson's Coast Pilot of California, Oregon and Washington was published. It is a monumental work and stands unequaled as a work of reference for the mariner, for the historian and for the geographer.

In 1891 Assistant A. T. Mosman was appointed one of the members of the International Boundary Commission for the relocation and remarking of the boundary between the United States and Mexico. In 1893 George Davidson was directed to resurvey that part of the California-Nevada boundary line which extends from Lake Tahoe to the Colorado River.

On August 17, 1894, the Coast Survey Steamer McARTHUR anchored about 1 miles offshore from Jo Creek, which lies about 17 miles north of Gray's Harbor, Washington. That afternoon Lieutenant Crosby, Commanding Officer, with nine men, landed through the surf and started to erect a hydrographic signal. The sea was smooth. On Saturday morning, there was a dense fog, and a long swell. At 7:20 am, the Commanding Officer with nine men in the whale boat left the ship to complete the erection of the signal. When outside the surf line, he directed the men to take all the precautions which are requisite for safety in going through the surf, such as removal of shoes and heavy clothing, casting off of trailing lines of the oars, and unshipping the rudder and substituting a steering oar. He cautioned them that if upset, they should get hold of life preservers or oars, dive under the breakers, and come up when necessary to breathe and make for the beach. They proceeded a short distance, when they were caught by a heavy breaker. The boat apparently broached, and was capsized by a second breaker. Five men succeeded in getting ashore, most of them in a dazed and exhausted condition. They immediately notified the white men and Indians along the beach, who took up the search for the others. The fog was very heavy, and visibility was not greater than 40 to 50 yards. No other landing could be made from the ship, so about 11 am, when the fog began to clear, the officer in charge ran in as close to the shore with the ship as was safe, but nothing could be done from the outside, so he proceeded inside Gray's Harbor and anchored near Damon's Point. C.P. Eaton, the Ensign in charge, secured a team and with two men drove up the beach to the scene of the disaster. Members of the crew and settlers patrolled the beach. On the way back to the ship, the team ran away while crossing a bridge over swampy land. The occupants were thrown out. The Ensign escaped with a sprained hand and leg and bruised head. One of the men had a bad hole made in front of his left leg, above the ankle, reaching to the bone. The bodies of Lieutenant Crosby and three of the men were washed ashore at various dates, that of Lieutenant Crosby six week after the accident.


Current meter work in Alaska during 1920's.

Triangulation, leveling and topographic mapping, from the early 90's until 1924 or 1925 progressed much more rapidly than the hydrographic work. With the exception of harbor surveys, the surveys of inland waters, and a very narrow strip along the coast, the work which had been done can only be classified as reconnaissance. There are two reasons for this. The methods and instruments employed were entirely inadequate. Proper instruments and equipment had not been devised. Visibility along the Pacific coast of the United States is generally low on account of fog, haze, and forest fires. In Alaska waters, in Hawaiian Island waters, and Philippines Island waters, sounding lines can be run offshore 10, 20, 50 and even 100 miles, with the location of the soundings controlled by sextant angles to objects onshore. Off the Pacific coast of the United States, there are but few days each year when such control can be carried much more than 10 miles. The second reason is that the Survey ships were entirely unsuited to accomplish the class of work required by the modern merchant marine. To carry on this work, the Coast Survey had two ships driven by single cylinder engines, the GEDNEY and the McARTHUR. The PATTERSON, a slightly larger vessel, had a little compound engine, but sail was relied on to a great extent as a means of propulsion. She, however, was used mostly in Alaskan waters. Had the service been furnished with better vessels, the hydrographic surveys might have been extended a little farther offshore with the instrumental equipment and methods then in use, but the work was really at a standstill, then. The instrumental equipment was inadequate.

The development of radio acoustic ranging made possible accurate and much needed surveys off the Pacific Coast. Much of the pioneering work in the development of this valuable method was done on the Pacific coast in 1924, by the Coast and Geodetic Survey Ship GUIDE.

At a later period of this development, the Steamer GUIDE, ran 206 miles offshore, obtaining fixes by means of its sound ranging apparatus at regular intervals on this line. The introduction of sound ranging apparatus vastly extended the field of hydrographic operations, making the work independent of weather conditions With the transfer to the Coast Survey of several mine sweepers, that bureau was ready to make hydrographic surveys which would meet all the demands of modern commerce. The result is that modern surveys extend offshore for a distance of about 80 miles all along the coast, from Cape Flattery to the Mexican border, with the exception of two small areas in California, in which work is now in progress. As a means of furnishing additional protection to the mariner, a strip about a mile and a half wide, along the shore, extending from just south of San Francisco Bay to Point Conception is being wire dragged.

One of the longest and perhaps the most accurately measured base line in the world lies in California. It was measured by a Coast and Geodetic Survey party under the direction of Commander C.L. Garner, for the purpose of furnishing a yard-stick for the late Professor Michelson in his experiments for the determination of the velocity of light.

The geodetic work has progressed so rapidly and to such an extent that in California the federal program calling for triangulation stations and precise level bench marks at distances apart not greater than 25 miles, is near completion. This has been made possible as a result of funds allotted by the Public Works Administration, and the excellent organization of the Division of Geodesy, which now has in the field parties approaching in size our large hydrographic units. California presents to the Division of Geodesy what might at the present time be considered as its most interesting problem - control surveys in areas subject to seismic disturbances.

Geodetic control for city surveys will undoubtedly replace all other systems. Los Angeles County and City now use it. The City Engineer of Long Beach has been making inquiries regarding the best procedure to follow for the coordination of its surveys under geodetic control. Unification and systematization of surveys and aggressive prosecution of the work is exceptionally notable in the state of Oregon, where this work is far in advance of what it is in other western states due to the far-sightedness of its engineers, officials and citizens, amongst the foremost of whom in this work is Lewis A. McArthur, grandson of William Pope McArthur.

The Tidal Division is also confronted with some interesting problems, as a result of the phenomenon known as surge, the magnitude of which at certain places along the Pacific coast is sufficiently great to cause inconvenience to shipping. The operation of a number of gages is also necessary for the proper study of emergence and subsidence of land areas.

The Pacific Coast is also the scene of the most progressive action taken for the determination of the effects of seismic disturbances on engineering structures, a field of investigation entered into by the Coast and Geodetic Survey within the last four years. Others phases of the work in that locality, particularly along seismometric lines, are most energetically studied by members of the faculties of state and other institutions. Some specific instances of the value of many of the early surveys may be of interest. A suit for over a million dollars was brought against the Federal Government over title to land considered as part of Mare Island. The most important evidence that the Federal Government could submit were the surveys made in the 50's by the officers of the Coast Survey, through whose attention to detail and correct delineation of the shore line conclusive evidence regarding the limits of the property was obtained. There were numerous other surveys, but those made by the Coast Survey furnished the evidence required.

A suit was brought against the Federal Government for damages to property, alleged to result from accelerated erosion caused by the construction of jetties at Humboldt Bay. An examination of Coast and Geodetic Survey topographic sheets made from 1851 to 1875, and of U.S.E. surveys of 1881 and later dates, showed that the rates of erosion fluctuated, and that there were periods of greater activity prior to the construction of the jetties. A remark by George Davidson in one of his reports indicated that the geological formation of the area in question might be worthy of investigation, as having some bearing on the rate of erosion. It was found to be stratified, and that the different layers were composed of materials which differed greatly in resistance to erosion, and the indications were that the rates varied according to the layers exposed.

The chart of San Francisco published in 1853 still has a steady sale. It shows the old high water line, defines the marsh area as well as high ground. It is notable for the accuracy of the great amount of detail which is given. It is purchased principally by real estate men and contractors. Limitations of space prevent me from mentioning more than two incidents which illustrate the value of this chart and the features which I believe are the fundamentals of surveying -- accuracy and attention to detail. A real estate man, one well versed in land values, made inquiry as to whether it would be possible to superimpose the outline of the present system of streets on that map. That was accomplished. He informed me that he wanted to determine if his property, situated in the old Mission Bay area, was located on the tongue of high land shown on that map as projecting into the marshy area. If it were, its value would be just ten thousand dollars more than if it were on the filled-in ground - the difference in foundation costs of buildings where heavy weights or machinery would be placed.

Many deeds, records and maps were destroyed by the fire which occurred in 1906. One evening, about two years ago, about 5:30 p.m. a prominent San Francisco attorney telephoned my office and requested me to remain until he called. He informed me that a suit would probably come up for trial on the following day or the day after and he needed evidence to support a claim that a building was on a certain piece of property near the waterfront in the early fifties. The 1853 chart gave him the evidence required, showing the plan of the building in its proper shape. Numerous other instances could be mentioned showing the value of accurate records.

The work of the Coast and Geodetic Survey is progressing at a gratifying rate. The methods developed by the Coast Survey and its work are considered as standards which are seldom or never questioned. There is no higher authority.

That reputation has been built by those who preceded us. In this paper, a few items have been selected at random from a hundred years of history of a service and of men who have established a record of which anyone might be proud. A few instances have been cited showing the intense interest of these men in carrying on the work, interest which has often resulted in the supreme sacrifice. We have a wonderful heritage. It behooves us to cherish it.

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