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On May 28, 1923, Douglas Llewellyn Parkhurst entered the Coast & Geodetic Survey as Chief of the Instrument Division. Born in Amherst, N. H., and graduating from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, he served with the Bosch Magneto Co., the War Department and the Bureau of Standards, bringing to this Bureau the true Yankee heritage of thrift, shrewdness, ingenuity and foresight as evidenced by the variety of precision instruments he has developed or improved during his 20 years in the Bureau.

One of his instruments which is familiar to all who heard the lectures, is the Parkhurst Theodolite used in carrying on triangulation. This instrument is not only easy to operate, but is light and sufficiently rugged to meet all field conditions as well as give results of the desired accuracy. The vertical Collimator used for centering the theodolite and signal lamps in Coast Survey work were also improved by him as well as the geodetic level and rod. The standard tide gage now used at all the primary tide stations was developed and improved from an old basic model and has resulted in a more workable instrument, easier to adjust, with better accuracy and greater dependability. Other instruments in which he has been the guiding factor are the sounding engraving machine, planetable alidade and seismograph recorder.

One of his latest devices is a detaching instrument for deep sea anchors used in connection with taut wire traverse in deep water. Heretofore, the anchor could not be readily detached and often resulted in breaking the wire.

Mr. Parkhurst also patented an electric time switch, hand grenade and a liquid sampling device for automatically trapping samples of sea water at any depth.

In his lighter moments, Mr. Parkhurst has many hobbies. Up to the present he has been an ardent fisherman and only the lack of “gas” prevents him from getting a crowd together every week for several hours of ardent “rod and reel” work. Not only can he boast about the many that got away, but he’s got proof of a few of his tall tales, as he caught a 62 ½ lb. channel bass at Wachapreague, Va., making him one of the national prize winners for that year. This is one of his brighter fishing moments.

Bowling comes in for the proper share of his attention and he was one of the original founders of the bowling league – howsomever the Instrument Team is usually in the cellar.

As Block Warden in the Bethesda Civilian Defense Organization, he pays strict attention to his duties and woe betide the unfortunate who went to the movies and left his light burning during an air-raid. Not only is it a violation of the regulations, but the waste of all electricity is a blow to one with thrifty instincts and a Scotch heritage.

Lest he be tempted to spend money unwisely, he carries all loose change in a pocketbook; thus making it more unhandy to get at and also to give him a chance to reflect on the wisdom of his purchase.

Right now all his efforts are devoted to his Victory Garden in which he raises everything from soup to nuts – and we understand he is growing his own peanuts this year. Not only will they provide fuel oil and fodder, but when his friends go on picnics, he’ll provide the nuts --- at a price.

Mr. Parkhurst’s loyalty to the Bureau can always be depended on whether it’s to perfect some new instrument for making the work a little more accurate and precise – or some recreational activity for his fellow workers – it’s all in a day’s work to “Scotty.”

In: “The Buzzard,” Vol X, no. 24, pp. 1-2. June 17, 1943


Publication of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NOAA Central Library.

Last Updated: June 8, 2006 9:24 AM

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