Monday, September 26, 2011


I do not like to look at existing maps before I begin a map.  The discoveries that happen while in the mode of hyper-alertness required by the ground survey are too special to tamper with.  But now, familiar enough with the farm and knowing the general lay of the land, I take time to look at earlier work.  My discoveries are no longer threatened, and it is something I can do on days that I can't be on the farm.

Topographic maps have little to add at this point.  The early 20th century one that I found has a few details that might be interesting, but not much more.  The newest USGS map is amusing because of an error.  I am finding errors more often in satellite made maps.  There is a road on their map that I am pretty sure does not exist.  There is also a road that exists that is not on their map.  In the marsh where I canoe frequently, Google Maps claims dry land where there are only lily pads - and only in the summer months when the satellite took the photo.  It is sloppy work to make maps and not have someone walk the ground.  It's like telling someone that you know something when you really are quite clueless.

I spend my time with the BLM survey records.  They come from the 1890's.  The surveyor's notes are neatly hand written.  The map is an odd thing to wrap one's head around.  It is not a topo map.  It was not intended for that purpose.  It is a map for people who will claim, buy, section, subdivide, mine, log or farm the land.

follow the link at the bottom of the blog to get this in a zooming version

The farm lies in Township 32, Region 6, Sections 16 and 17, mostly.  The surveyors walked the edges of the region noting the forest and soil and hills, creeks, rivers.  Everything is in chains - that is a unit of length...rods, chains, links...if you need to know, you'll look it up.  A section is a square mile, 640 acres.  They did not walk the section boundaries.  But, they did go back and walk the entire Stilliguamish River, carefully plotting it so that they could figure out how much land was left in the section for the farmer, logger or miner.  They called that walk a meandering.  I like that...meandering to make a map.  The river has not changed its channel much at all in 120 years.

The map is cryptic. There are odd numbers noted on the map that have a reason I do not know.  Baker had a house on the farm, not far from where SK made a braided grass installation a month or so ago.  It is not far from where the beaver are taking cottonwoods and dragging them back to the river.  Youst (that might be wrong - it is hard to read) had a house in the north fields, at a place where I tripped over some barbed wire.

I go back to putting the maps and notes on a canoe paddle.  I am joining my last project to this one.

Here's the link to the map- BLM  You can zoom in on this to see the details.

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