Every four years in the United States we have the opportunity, and responsibility, to vote for our next president. As I’ve considered the admirable qualities of a leader, I’m reminded of stories of past presidents whose greatness has stood out – and stood the test of time.
Our feature story, The Trade of Presidents, is taken from my book, Lasting Impressions: A Glimpse into the Legacy of Surveying
. Mount Rushmore frames four famous presidents, three of whom began their careers as land surveyors. My favorite story is about Abraham Lincoln, who was a deputy surveyor of Sangamon County, Illinois from 1833 to 1837.
One of Lincoln’s survey projects was to lay out the town of Petersburg in 1836. Twenty- five years after the town was platted it was discovered that Lincoln had “skewed” the line to save a man’s house. According to the story Lincoln said, “If I run the street right through it will cut four feet off of [so and so’s] house. That house is all he has in the world and could never get another one. I reckon it won’t hurt anything out here if I skew the line a little and miss his house.”
One can only imagine how this kind of revelation would play out today. For me, the kind heart of a president in the making exhibits one of those admirable qualities.
Mount Rushmore was the site of an interesting event recently. On Saturday, September 20, 2008, members of the South Dakota Society of Professional Land Surveyors (SDSPLS) and their friends and associates gathered at Mount Rushmore National Memorial to pay homage to the surveying heritage of Presidents Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln and to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of SDSPLS.
(Photo credit - Kevin Eilbeck Photography)
The weather was in full cooperation with beautiful clear blue skies and warm autumn temperatures. Representatives from eighteen states had the privilege of sitting beneath the memorial and listening to stories and excerpts of how the surveying careers and relationships of these presidents played significant roles in the lives of these great men.
Theodore Roosevelt is the “other guy” who didn’t have surveying on his job application, but he wasn’t forgotten. An informational portrayal of President Roosevelt was included in the program as well.
A highlight was a group photo of the surveyors who gathered to commemorate the event taken with their counterparts, Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln. It was another proud moment to be a ‘surveyor’ – and an American!
Happy geocaching & benchmark hunting!
Originally published on October 30th, 2008.