Colvin Compass

Posted in Crew events on May 8th, 2012 by Camp Superintendent James Vianna

After our first fund raising event, we have recently purchased V. Colvin’s compass and tripod. It appears to be a Gurley “pocket railroad compass” model no. 157, with a 3 1/2″ needle, a 4″ limb with vernier reading to five minutes; the vernier for the magnetic variation is also five minutes. The manual recommends tripod model no. 168 (the light compass tripod) with legs 4 feet 8 inches, usually mahogany or cherry.

This purchase was facilitated through a descendent of V. Colvin’s Albany neighbor finding our website and contacting us.



We had the occasion to use it on our last recovery and here is C. Donald in the role of instrument man re-inacting a “preliminary reconnaissance” from Bolt 260.  This is the type of work the compass would have been used for, i.e. establishing sight lanes that needed to be cleared, identification of distant peaks and the gathering of station ties etc.


  WOW! that was something you don’t see every day.

The compass is now on display at Ranger School and will be part of their “Centennial Celebrations” this year.

Special thanks goes out to Mike Webb for doing the purchase leg work, the “crew” for coming through on the funding and Art Carpenter for doing the preliminary research on the make and model.

 Additional research will be conducted as time permits to see if we can derive a date of purchase etc.

Jim Vianna

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