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Walter B. Fairfield died at Morristown, New Jersey, on July 20, in his 81st year. walter fairfieldBorn on October 11, 1849, at Newton, Massachusetts, he entered the service of the Coast and Geodetic Survey December 1, 1869, and thereafter for over 50 years was actively engaged on geodetic work, a tabulation of which would comprise in a measure a chronicle of the activities of that branch of the service.

His first assignment was with his father, George A. Fairfield, on the triangulation of South West Harbor, Mount Desert, Maine, followed by similar work in Pamlico Sound, North Carolina. He then assisted in various triangulation and geodetic surveys in eastern, central, and southern States until 1893, when he was in charge of triangulation in West Virginia and Kansas and assisted in a survey of the California-Nevada boundary.

In 1896 and 1897 he assisted in the extension of the transcontinental triangulation to its eastern terminus, from the Chesapeake Bay to Cape May, and was also engaged in triangulation work in southern and western States. During the 2 years following, he executed triangulation, trigonometric leveling and reconnaissance in eastern, southern, and central States.

His long experience and ability caused him to be selected in 1903 for work in connection with triangulation, topography, and astronomic and magnetic observations in the Philippines, along the west coast of Luzon and across the central valley of Luzon, Manila, to Lingayen Gulf. Revision of triangulation along the west coast of Florida claimed his services in 1908, in which year he also connected the newly established meteorological station at Mount Weather, Virginia, with the main triangulation of the country. From 1910 to 1915, he was in charge of the party engaged in a survey of the international boundary between the United States and Canada. After that he was engaged in making first-order determinations of astronomical latitude and longitude. At an age when most men seek rest and retirement he was making determinations in Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Idaho, Utah, Georgia, Florida, North and South Carolina, Virginia, Texas, and the District of Columbia.

He retired April 1, 1921. Living in Washington, he was a frequent visitor at the Washington office, where his erect figure, dignified manner, and simple friendliness told nothing of a long life of pioneer work during the years when our frontiers were being pushed steadily forward by small groups of men busily surveying and mapping virgin country for the civilization to come.

C&GS Bulletin, No. 183, 8/30/1930

Publication of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NOAA Central Library.
Last Updated: June 8, 2006 9:27 AM

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