Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Taking Measure of Snag Creek

The Jeffersonian conceived Land Ordinance of 1785 sought to lay a grid, a defined measurement over the whole of the landscape. First to ensure government ownership, then for private settlement and purchase.

The surveyor's general required a standard tool of measurement, a chain of 100 links (66 feet).

Each link measured 7.92 inches. One mile equaled 80 chains.

The grid superimposed over the land. 36 square mile townships, each square one mile, 640 acres. No concern for topography, elevation, just the grid.

The prairies and great plains conformed largely to the grid. You can see it. Roads laid out on the township lines, fields cropped in squares, an orderly tapestry of planning. Not always so on the hills and mountains, less apt to be tamed.

Even on those plains, the land still rebels. Undulations of surface throw off the survey line, watercourses wander across the grid, serpentine anamolies.

A human creation and the land itself both in concert and at the same time in opposition, land not always bending to measurement and imposition of order.

An experiment of my own using the "Taking Measures" methodology. Some images culled from Google Earth and other sat. map sites of Snag Creek in Washburn, juxtaposed with images from the ground.

1. Original Survey from 1825--the Grid

2. Satellite image of creek bend

3. Map version of same with lat. long. overlay

4. Ground view of creek before bend looking from east to west

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