Bear Hunt

Posted in Colvin publications on December 29th, 2013

Thanks to long time crew member Doug Mcllroy, here is a pdf version of V. Colvin’s


as read before the Albany Institute

January 18, 1870

Long Lake revisited

Posted in Colvin points on August 19th, 2012

Well we finally got back up to Long Lake to finish our search of two winters ago. Under the direction of Steve Sehnert and with the cooperation of a beautiful summer weekend, many points were recovered.  A full write up will follow shortly.

Colvin Compass

Posted in Crew events on May 8th, 2012

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

James A. Colvin

Posted in Genealogy on May 13th, 2011

Recently, I was put in touch with Denise Collinsworth the great-great granddaughter of Verplanck Colvin’s half brother James A. Colvin.  Denise found us through our website and has been gracious enough to share her family history and pictures with us.

Note the strong resemblance of James to Verplanck:

and his final resting site located at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx.

Also this very rare late photo of Mills Blake and Verplanck at the Elms. Inscription on the back of the photo reads “175  Western Ave. Albany NY, August 27,th 191?) It was taken by Andrew James Colvin who was Denise’s great grandfather and brother to Edward D. A. Colvin (E.D.A. Colvin worked on Verplanck’s survey crew)

     As told to me by Denise  “James was a Captain in the civil war and he was also in the Spanish American war. He passed away in Georgia while serving in this war, I believe he contracted the spanish flu and it turned into pneumonia and he died from that in 1899”.

Jim Vianna

Lake Placid follow up

Posted in Colvin points on February 28th, 2011

         On October 30, 2010, I was able to make a return trip back to Lake Placid to attempt to find the three points comprising V. Colvin’s “great baseline” extending from Signal Hill down to the southerly shore of Lake Placid and then across the lake to Hawk Island. The original measurements of the land segment of this baseline is detailed below under “measuring bars” and represents one of the more precise measurements ever made in the Adirondacks.

With the invaluable assistance of Bob and Dan Marvin who provided GPS services and a boat, we were able to recover the north base mark on Hawk Island.

Colvin’s signal over the mark is as shown here:

Unfortunately, the station on the south shore of the lake (if still in) rests under a newly laid, imported stone patio that I don’t think the owners would have taken kindly to if we dismantled it. We then proceeded to Signal Hill to search for the mark that was listed in 1946 as being destroyed by road construction. After numerous 3-4 feet deep test holes were dug in the gravel road nothing was found.

Special thanks goes out to Northern and Bob and Dan Marvin for their assistance in completing this recovery.

Jim Vianna