Colvin Reports Now Available

Posted in Colvin points on August 5th, 2009


The N.Y.S. Library is in the process of scanning and electronically publishing all of Colvin’s reports to the N.Y.S. Legislators (and the maps found in those reports). A large portion of this work has now been completed and is available for downloading. The scans are in .pdf format and may take a considerable period of time to appear on your computer. I suggest the use of their FAQ page if you encounter problems. You will not be able to bookmark each report as they use a constantly changing URL. The best way to gain access to the downloads is by clicking below, then selecting the “search digital collections” bar located near the top of the page and then type in “Verplanck Colvin” in the search window

Colvin Reports

Measuring Bars ???????

Posted in Colvin points on July 7th, 2009

I first came across these pictures while visiting the Adirondack Research Center of the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks, now called “Protect the Adirondacks” about two years ago. Having never seen anything like this in the surveying world previously, to say it caught my interest is an understatement. Well, after keeping my ears open, I finally obtained the last Colvin report published for the years 1898-1899 which was edited by fellow crew member Norman J. VanValkenburg and published in 1989. Much to my surprise, therein was found a detailed report on the use of these measuring bars as written by Professor E. A. Fuertes, Director and Dean of the College of Civil Engineering of Cornell University. This report details the Professor’s work at Lake Placid in August of 1897.
While I admit that the following report is an exception rather than the norm for the expected accuracy of Colvin’s work, I find it extremely interesting and worthy of an easy future recovery.

  These two pictures show the crew measuring down the slope of land towards the shore of Lake Placid

 (Note: the use of two instruments in this process)



Here is the actual report as told in Prof. Fuertes own words and as extracted from “REPORT OF THE SUPERINTENDENT OF THE STATE LAND SURVEY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK FOR THE YEAR 1898” edited by Norman J. Van Valkenburgh , The Adirondack Research Center of the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks, 1989, first edition.

(Click on the individual page to open it in a larger window for ease of viewing)






 Items worthy of note are: The Professor being upset with the monument being 1 mm out of position, 20 days to go 1,144 feet and a difference in the two runs of 0.002± of a foot.

Crew awards

Posted in Crew events on May 22nd, 2009

On May 14, 2009 at a general membership dinner meeting of the Eastern New York Society of Land Surveyors (ENYSLS) held in Ballston Spa, N. Y., a presentation was made on behalf of the Colvin Crew to C. Howard Johannessen, L.S. (President of ENYSLS) and Kurt Heiss, L.S. (crew webmaster) for their assistance in creating our Website. A power point presentation then followed on V. Colvin’s accomplishments.

C. Howard Johnannessen, LS

C. Howard Johannessen, L.S., ENYSLS President accepting on behalf of ENYSLS


Kurt Heiss, L.S. (crew webmaster) receiving the coveted “crew pin” along with  membership in the Crew.

More pictures can be found at the ENYSLS website

Thanks again,

Jim Vianna, Superintendent

Is this a Colvin marker?

Posted in Colvin points on May 13th, 2009

Many hikers are familiar with finding U.S.C.&G.S. (United States Coast and Geodetic Survey) disks on their favorite Adirondack peaks like this one:


The question then becomes, does this marker occupy the original Colvin hole?  Well, based on V. Colvins report to the N.Y.S. Legislators, apparently the Federal Government was removing his markers and setting their own as far back as the late 1800’s:



   Here is a picture of the crew at work on the same mountain top :



So, It would appear that it probably was standard practice for the Federal Government to remove Colvin’s bolt and replace it with one of their own (mines better than your’s thing ). On rare occasions they left Colvin’s marker in place (See Ruby Mtn. write up). Both Colvin and the U.S.C.&G.S. points were and still are subject to vandalizism, resulting sometimes in only a drill hole being found today. Many times it is not possible to ascertain the truth but occasionally with additional research a likelyhood can be established as to the question of does this disk occupy Colvin’s point.

Jim Vianna

Foot Holes???

Posted in Colvin points on May 5th, 2009

Many people ask me if Colvin or his crew occupied every mountain to perform their work. Well it depends on what you mean by occupy. Yes, every mountain located had to have at least a bolt and signal placed upon it, but not every mountain was occupied by theodolite. One way you can determine this in the field is to look for small drill holes set out in a roughly equilateral triangle around the station mark. The triangles formed by these drill holes will have bases of three – four feet and be about three feet distant from the station mark. The purpose of these drill holes was to allow for the instrument tripod feet to have a place to rest in so they would not kick out if hit or blown about in heavy wind.

Here is a picture of one: rare-tripod-foot-drill-hole

 Here is a recent picture from the top of West Mtn. and our Raquette Lake recovery showing the station mark in the middle with the three foot holes in a triangle marked with white powder.


 As Colvin wrote in his 1874 report:



And that’s the tip of the day.

Jim Vianna