October is a month of mystery. Mysteriously leaves change from green to red to orange to yellow right before our eyes. Within 31 days the process of changing seasons is accomplished. This month Caching Now is excited to unravel some geocaching mysteries. Our Feature section this month is a fictional work submitted to us by reader Nancy Dailey. (Thanks Nancy!) Geowise unearths an exciting new piece of technology and Benchmark Hunting continues the riveting tale of the first crew to survey Mount McKinley with GPS technology.
The following article—originally published in Lasting Impressions is a story of A Mystery Monument. I hope you enjoy it along with the rest of our October edition.
A Mystery Monument
The Wisconsin Historical Society sent Bill Rohde, PLS, this photo of a rather imposing monument, hoping to learn something about it. But is was a mystery to Bill as well and, incredibly, seemed to have disappeared into history.
Or not so incredibly. The fact is, quite aside from rust and backhoes—and other threats in the physical world—monuments also depend on culture; without stability and organization in human institutions, monuments can be lost just as surely as they are by being dug up and turned into belt buckles or paperweights. A courthouse fire can do more damage than any earthquake, as can poor record keeping.
But happily, this monument turned out to have story, and a location. Rohde published the photo in Wisconsin Professional Surveyor, and the monument looked familiar to Michael J. Heberlein, a land surveyor for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. He writes:
“I believe that I can shed some light on the photo I the December 2004 issue of the Wisconsin Professional Surveyor
. I am pretty sure that the point is Spring Green East Base and I have included a copy of the description and history from the National Geodetic Survey (NGS) data base. I believe that this is the point because it appears in your photo that on the face closest to the person it does say ‘southeast end,’ which is confirmed at the top of page 5 of the attached description. I would guess that the photo was taken prior to 1935, as the 1934 description of its buddy point ‘Spring Green West’ notes deteriorating base, while the 1935 description for Spring Green East notes ’that the foundation for the mark was repaired with concrete.’ Also, the mark does not appear to have a brass cap in the top, as noted in the 1935 description for both points. My guess is that someone placed discs in and shored up each monument base in 1935, which your photo predates. I happen to know of these points because to reach my grandparents’ cabin in Blue River, Wisconsin, we would drive by the Spring Green West station. Last I checked, both stations were still intact, but now the east station is under heavy tree cover”.
Heberlein also dug up the NGS data sheets, confirming his intuition. So the imposing “Mystery Monument” is forgotten, but not gone, and it can still be traced via the elaborate record keeping of the National Geodetic Survey.
--William C. Rohde, PLS (Retired), Larsen, Wisconsin
--Mick Heberlein, PLS, Wisconsin Department of Transportation, Cross Plains, Wisconsin
Published in Caching Now, October, 2009.