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The period from 1850 through 1860 was one of relentless perseverance in working towards the completion of the Eastern Seaboard and Gulf Coast triangulation, the topography of the seaboard, and the associated hydrography. The engine driving this work was Superintendent Bache. His own philosophy concerning the field work was, "The life of anyone on the Coast Survey is essentially and necessarily one of sacrifice for the public service, and not of ease."(1) He expected nothing more than the ultimate effort from all those engaged on the Survey as they were involved in a great National undertaking. However, there were those who ascribed other motives to the management style he displayed in pushing his field officers to the limit of their stamina. Frank Hudson, a young man whom Bache had known and then hired out of the Philadelphia Central High School, wrote Julius Hilgard in 1847: "Why does Bache labor with such devotion in the cause of the Coast Survey? Why does he economize to the last cent? Why does he work so intensely himself and screw and drive his assistants to the utmost extent of their powers? Is it to complete the Survey alone? No. He is laboring with all the powers of a Jesuitical Mind of no mean order, to attain scientific reputation."(2)

Regardless of Bache's motivations, the eleven years prior to the beginning of the Civil War saw remarkable progress in the work of the Survey. With increased appropriations, Bache doubled the field effort of the Survey.(3) Most types of field crews increased substantially between 1850 and 1860 as compared to 1844-1849. The number of field parties engaged in triangulation, topography, and tidal observations doubled while hydrographic and astronomic parties increased over 30 per cent. Production increased accordingly; and, corroborating Bache's argument of economies of scale, for some categories of production such as horizontal angle stations occupied, topographic maps produced, and hydrographic surveys completed it more than doubled. Reflecting the dependence of hydrography on triangulation and topography, hydrographic survey production more than tripled from an average of 15 per year in the period 1844-1849 to 48 per year in the period 1850-1860.(4) This occurred in spite of increasing the number of hydrographic survey crews only 40 per cent, from an average of 7 per year to 10 per year.

Work in the field followed a relatively stringent order of operations. Upon deciding to work in a given area, a reconnaissance of the stretch of coast to be surveyed was conducted. The object of the initial reconnaissance was to select sites for the primary triangulation stations and base lines. The initial reconnaissance would be followed up by primary triangulation, base line measurement, astronomic observations at critical points for latitude, longitude, and azimuth, magnetic observations at selected points, secondary and lower-order triangulation that ultimately were tied to the first order work, topographic mapping of the shoreline, and hydrography. (Slightly different tactics were followed on the West Coast. West Coast operations are addressed in Chapter ____.) Occasionally the secondary triangulation would progress ahead of the primary triangulation; and often, in order to get started in an area, lower accuracy preliminary base lines were measured. The topography was tied into the secondary triangulation, although sometimes local lower-order triangulation schemes would control the topographic work. Signals for the hydrographic work were determined by secondary triangulation, lower-order triangulation, and topographic plane-table surveys that located prominent features and additional points. The hydrography and drawing of views of the coast were the last work accomplished in a given area. Ultimately all work was tied together by the primary triangulation network.


Reconnaissance involved the selection of appropriate sites for triangulation stations and base lines. Triangulation stations were selected such that the points: 1) were accessible; 2) met the geometric criteria of a strong triangulation network; and 3) had direct or cleared line-of-sight to surrounding stations. Base line sites were selected on the basis of distance between base lines, long extent of low relative relief over the projected base line, grading and clearing required, ease of connection with triangulation, and accessibility. Virtually all triangulation work required reconnaissance. In the 1850's this was a particularly critical job as much of the United States coast line had received only a cursory examination without regard to the problems of conducting large-scale survey operations.

Sites selected for stations were "generally either prominent objects of permanence, such as spires, light-houses, beacons, &c., or ... points on prominent hills, capes, or points of land where signals have been erected for the purpose of the survey, and which are marked on the ground. In a small number of cases in the first three Sections, but much more frequently in the southern Sections, where settlements on the coast are sparse and few permanent objects are to be found, the stations have no other distinguishing mark than the signal erected on the spot; and after its decay, the mark left on the ground, to designate the station point. The latter generally consists of posts or stones set around the point, while the centre of the station is designated by an earthen cone or glass bottle buried under the surface of the ground, and marked on top by a stone or post. Where the station is on a rock, a copper bolt, or a hole filled with lead or sulphur, will be found to designate the exact spot."(5)

Assistant Ferdinand Gerdes conducted the largest of the 1850's reconnaissances in the eastern United States which extended from Cape Florida to the Mississippi River delta. This work was done in 1851 and 1852 and covered 600 miles in a straight line and over a thousand miles following the curves of the coast. His goal was to establish the feasibility of continuing the system of triangulation along the Florida coast and eastern Gulf Coast. After finishing this reconnaissance, Gerdes wrote Bache that he was "fully conscious of the great importance which you attach to the uninterrupted continuation of our beautiful system of triangulation, chaining together the coast of the Union from section to section, by links of unerring accuracy...." He pointed out to Bache "that the northern coast on the Gulf seems to be sufficiently broken and irregular to facilitate a system of triangulation." Being an experienced field man, having served with the Survey since 1836, he was well aware that "More or less difficulty will be found, such as I have already experienced during my short search, in many parts of this coast, and these difficulties will increase as the investigation becomes more detailed; but with a careful perseverance, means can and must be found to overcome all obstacles."(6)

All of the assistants that conducted reconnaissance were very aware of the need to continue the "beautiful system of triangulation." However, it was up to the triangulation parties to find the means to overcome all obstacles. The nature of these obstacles were often described in the reconnaissance reports. In 1853, Brevet Major Henry Prince(7), U.S.A., Assistant in the Coast Survey, conducted a reconnaissance of the coast from Cape Fear, North Carolina, to the North Santee River, South Carolina. He divided this strip of coast into three distinct sections and related that "Along nearly the whole of the first section extends a sound separated from the ocean by a narrow strip of sand-hills. Into this sound are several inlets, of which the principal are Lockwood's Folly, Shallotte, Tubbs and Little river; these were found to have from six to nine feet in them, with practicable entrances and good anchorages. The rivers in this section are mostly mere serpentine creeks, winding through marshes and swamps thickly covered with growth of black gum, tupelo, ash, oak, and pine. The points for main triangulation, to be found on the sand strip referred to, will be connected with those in the interior by cutting; which, however, is of a much less expensive(8) character than that already executed in other parts of this section."(9)

Major Prince's cutting of "a much less expensive character" could certainly have been interpreted to mean somewhat easier clearing work. However, in practice it became, "Avenues, making in the aggregate an extent of more than fourteen miles, were traced and opened by the party so as to admit of observing with the theodolite..." for Assistant C.P. Bolles when he was conducting the primary triangulation to the west of Tubbs Inlet in 1859. He found, "The impediments from standing wood and undergrowth on this part of the coast increase the natural difficulty of laying out and determining primary lines which pass over a level surface."(10) This would not be the last time that the "recon man" and the triangulation party differed over the level of difficulty involved in observing a triangulation scheme.

One of the last reconnaissance jobs accomplished by Major Prince prior to detachment from the Survey in 1855 was the selection of the base line site at Epping Plain, Maine, near the border with Canada. Superintendent Bache visited the site and commented on its merits in 1856: "In July, I visited in person the site selected on Epping plains for a base of verification, the only practicable one which the reconnaissance of Major Prince and Assistant Boutelle had developed. The grading of this base will not be an easy task, but its ready connection with the triangulation, ... and its admirable position so near the end of the work, make up for considerable disadvantages in other particulars. I have accordingly taken steps to ascertain the cost of grading, and to prepare for measurement next season...."(11)

Bache also commented on Prince's merits and spared no words in praising him: "The adaptation to this branch of service, which was shown in your former connection with the survey, has again been strongly marked, with the advantage of increased experience in its operations. The character of service which you have rendered is that which military habits and experience, and strong military bias, would naturally render most acceptable to an officer, and I have not seen among the accomplished officers of the Coast Survey one who could surpass you, and but two who could rival you, in reconnaissance...."(12) Major Prince must have

been a favorite of Bache's as only a few military officers or civilian assistants received such praise.

The budget request for 1856-1857 included a $15,000 item "For running a line to connect the triangulation on the Atlantic coast with that on the Gulf of Mexico, across the Florida peninsula, per act of March 3, 1843."(13) This was a very important project for both tactical and strategic reasons.

Tactically, it eliminated the requirement to carry a first-order triangulation network around the Florida peninsula as the Atlantic Coast and Gulf Coast would be tied together by a cross-peninsula first-order triangulation chain. This chain was referred to as the "air-line" and ultimately would extend from the vicinity of Fernandina Beach, Florida, to the vicinity of Cedar Keys, Florida. Bache estimated that it would cost only 1/4 as much to tie the two coasts together in this manner as opposed to the original plan.

Strategically, the "air-line" marked a turning point in the nature of geodetic operations within the Coast Survey. Superintendent Bache had earlier expressed interest in carrying the geodetic survey into the interior of the country. He was chipping away at accomplishing this goal by such means as the telegraphic longitude program which went into the interior and by sending triangulation crews up the tidewater rivers of Virginia to the head of navigation. But these latter efforts were second-order triangulation surveys ostensibly related to specific navigation charts. The Florida "air-line" was the pioneer effort in carrying first-order triangulation into the interior of the country. Two years later, the Committee of Twenty of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, in its landmark report on the Coast Survey, made the first public recommendation that the Survey expand its triangulation network by running a chain of triangles through the Appalachian Mountains for tying together work conducted in the Northeast with that of the Gulf Coast. This work did not begin for many years, but the Association's suggestion, as well as Bache's encroachments into the interior, demonstrated that the vision to bind the Nation together in continuous chains of triangulation had its beginnings during the Bache superintendency. It would be many years before the Appalachian work was undertaken; the chain of triangulation carried down the spine of the eastern mountains became known as the Eastern Oblique Arc.

Reconnaissance for the Florida "air-line" began in late 1856. Captain James H. Simpson(14), U.S. Topographical Engineers, Assistant in the Coast Survey, started "from a camp near Loftin's creek, about ten miles from Fernandina" and "with the necessary equipment, the party were occupied twenty-one days in traversing the route of the railroad and adjacent country in the direction of Cedar Key. The entire distance traveled in the reconnaissance was four hundred and twenty-nine miles.

"Captain Simpson ... proceeded to open the lines between the stations which he had selected as points for triangulation in order to test the cost of cutting... Stations were erected for the completion of four triangles, in which the conditions most desirable for accuracy were sought and obtained. The triangle sides average about six miles and a quarter in length...."(15)

By 1859, the work had progressed halfway across the peninsula as far as New River, just north of Gainesville. Once again, a triangulation party was surprised to discover impediments to the work where reconnaissance had anticipated few problems. Captain Martin Luther Smith(16), U.S.A., Topographical Engineers, Assistant in the Coast Survey, had been in charge of the triangulation since early 1858. Captain Smith related: "It was supposed at the commencement of the season that the ground to be passed over would prove more favorable than that met with during the previous year, but the contrary was the case. New River swamp, which, according to the maps of the interior, our lines should have missed, covers much of the ground traversed by one of the sides of each triangle. The section of country through which they pass is more or less densely timbered, and the lines forming their sides had to be opened foot by foot with the axe. When it is considered that thick pine woods offered the most favorable cutting required in carrying the work forward, the remainder and about an equal portion being through the swamps and matted bogs of the south the extent of the labor may be judged of. The opening of the lines constitutes the main expense attending the triangulation."(17)

One final important reconnaissance was completed before the Civil War. In the summer of 1859 Charles Boutelle proceeded to the St. Croix River and Passamaquoddy bay on the Maine-Canada boundary for the purpose of selecting triangulation station sites. Transportation was provided by the U.S. revenue cutter JACKSON while Boutelle was working in the area. This reconnaissance marked the finish of the Coast Survey's first complete look at the coastline of the United States from Canada to Mexico. In fifteen years, Bache had expanded Coast Survey operations from a small area centered around New York City to the total extent of coastline from Passamaquoddy Bay to the Rio Grande River. In addition, he oversaw the completion of the reconnaissance of the West Coast. Although the details were not completely filled in during Bache's lifetime, this first scientific look at the coast of the United States was in itself a remarkable accomplishment.


The triangulation work on the eastern seaboard and Gulf of Mexico had one common parameter -- it was accomplished with great difficulty. Transportation facilities were quite primitive and much of the area was covered by marsh, mangrove swamps, or trees. With the possible exception of Bache's seemingly idyllic summertime trips to the mountains of New England (18), the field parties spent much of their time battling the elements, establishing lines-of-sight, and warding off sickness. Each area had its peculiar problems which sometimes led to the development of new techniques and methods. Some of the difficulties and accomplishments of the various field parties are recounted below.


Most primary triangulation work in New England was carried on under the direction of Superintendent Bache while secondary triangulation crews in New England during the 1850's operated with a number of chiefs including Assistant Charles O. Boutelle and Captain Thomas J. Cram(19), U.S.A., Assistant in the Coast Survey. Much of the triangulation work in New England during the 1850's was along the coast of Maine as the primary work had advanced to the Kennebec River by 1850.

Primary triangulation in Maine was carried on in the seacoast mountains. Many isolated peaks in these mountains were positioned almost perfectly for the needs of the triangulation. Mt. Pleasant, Mt. Blue (3,187 feet), Mt. Harris, Humpback (today called Lead Mountain,) Mt. Agamenticus, Mt. Independence, Ragged Mountain, and Mt. Desert (Cadillac Mountain), were among the high points selected for the primary work. Two points just across the Canadian border at Chamcook, New Brunswick, and on Grand Manan Island terminated the coastal arc of triangulation for the United States.

The high mountains allowed observations over greater distances than were possible on any other part of the East or Gulf Coasts. In 1859, Mount Katahdin was observed from Western Ridge, a distance of approximately 100 miles. When combined with Bache's observations from Mt. Desert in 1856, it allowed the determination of the "geographical position of that remarkable feature of the interior of Maine...."(20) In spite of the high mountain peaks, topography occasionally conspired to block lines of sight. The highest noted height of instrument above the ground prior to the Civil War years was on Mt. Desert as "It was necessary to raise the heliotrope on Mount Desert some fifty-six feet above the ground, in order that the line from Mount Harris should pass above Mount Waldo. The station point at Mount Harris had been elevated twenty feet above the ground by a substantial structure of mason work, prepared last season."(21) (22)

The Epping Plains Base Line, measured in Maine in 1857, was the last of the great base lines measured by Superintendent Bache. The rocky terrain of Maine precluded a level site, and the Epping Plains Base Line had over 140 feet of relief. It was the first base line measured on uneven terrain, but this turned out to be a minor inconvenience as progress in its measurement exceeded that of the 6 other base lines measured by Bache.(23) The first three days' work on this base line were shortened by arrangements for photographing the apparatus and the onset of fog and showers; but the next four days showed excellent progress. The base line was finished at the end of the seventh day. Although the photographs are lost(24), this marked the first time that photography of field operations was attempted. The photos showed "placing the apparatus over a mark, the aligning, the setting of the trestles in advance of the measurement, the transfer of the measuring tube, and the making of contact. The comparing apparatus and tent are also shown...."(25)

It was another two years before Epping base line was connected with the primary triangulation. Assistant Charles Boutelle was assigned this task and commenced work in the fall of 1859. He built two forty-foot tripods with scaffolding at each end of the base. Because of high winds shaking the instrument tripods, he conceived the idea of draping the outside scaffolding with light canvas and screening the inner tripod from the wind. These screens "were spread on the windward sides, and kept the platform on which the theodolite was placed in perfect steadiness. At the west end of the base the wind blew almost a gale from the northwest on the evening of the 15th and morning of the 16th of October; and although the scaffold was over forty feet high, eighteen feet wide at the base and nine at the top, the protection from the screens was such that the observations were not materially interfered with."(26) This technique was used to good advantage for many years.

Boutelle completed the tie of the Epping Plains Base Line to the primary triangulation. The preliminary computed value of the original measurement of this base line "subject yet to some small change" was 8,715.845 meters. "As derived through the primary triangulation from the mean of the Fire Island and Providence bases from computations to 1859, the same base is 8,715.837 metres in length, differing but eight millimetres, or three tenths of an inch from the former value."(27) Eight millimeters closure suggested an accuracy better than 1 part in a million for the New England triangulation work and higher accuracy for the actual base line measurements. Bache personally accomplished much of the work involved in measuring the arc of primary triangulation from the Providence Base Line to the Epping Plains Base Line. The accuracy of the results established Bache as a field geodesist of the first rank. Bache began the work of establishing a direct arc(28) from Epping Plains to Fire Island in 1861. The arc extended from Mount Monadnock, New Hampshire, to Long Island, New York. This work was finished in 1862. Although ostensibly observed to add another check, this arc was probably run to continue the incursion of the triangulation further into the interior of the country.

Another aspect of the triangulation work was the determination of elevation of station sites by observing vertical angles. In 1852 and 1853 Captain T. J. Cram, U.S.A., Assistant in the Coast Survey, conducted a series of experiments designed to determine the best method of deriving elevations. These experiments involved the use of spirit levels, reciprocal zenith distances (vertical angles observed from two stations simultaneously to eliminate refraction errors,) barometric determination of elevation, and variation of boiling point of water with elevation. He conducted his tests at Mount Washington, New Hampshire, the highest point in New England.

Captain Cram determined that the most reliable method of determining elevations was spirit leveling. He ran a line of levels from Portland, Maine, to the base of Mount Washington, a distance of approximately 70 miles. He then ran two tests; the first established bench marks at every 500 feet of elevation as he went up the mountain, and the second at every 100 feet. He determined that the elevation of the mountain was 6,280 feet above the "level of mean tide at Portland."(29) Cram also discussed the problem of "the effect of unequal refraction on the apparent level, and shows how to get rid of it altogether, or to reduce it to a very small quantity, by equi-distant fore and back sights ...."(30) This is still the primary technique used to reduce refraction errors in precise leveling operations.


Offshore barrier islands, large sounds and bays, extensive marshland, pine forest, and deciduous forest were the geographic conditions encountered by the survey parties while working on the southeast coast of the United States. In surveying this coast, mud, mosquitoes, flies, swamps, marshes, timber, and heavy brush were common problems. In Virginia and North Carolina extreme cold was occasionally experienced during the winter months. Probably disease was no more prevalent on the Atlantic Coast than on other coasts, but on a few occasions whole crews were incapacitated necessitating cessation of operations.

Given that the eastern seaboard had been settled for close to 200 years by the 1850's, it is reasonable to assume that basic geographic relationships along the seaboard and in the well-settled areas were understood by the mid-Nineteenth Century. The experience of Captain William R. Palmer(31), U. S. A., Topographical Engineers, Assistant in the Coast Survey, served to illustrate the limited state of geographic knowledge in the mid-Nineteenth Century and the need for accurate maps. Captain Palmer was chief of a secondary triangulation party working along the Rappahannock River in 1855. He conducted an initial reconnaissance of the river from Fredericksburg to its mouth at Chesapeake Bay. Riverboat pilots assured him that the distance was 155 miles while he estimated it to be 130 miles. In conducting the triangulation, he determined, "The whole length of the river, from Fredericksburg to the mouth, is about 108 miles." Superintendent Bache commented upon Palmer's finding: "The erroneous estimates of distances, where there are no good maps, have entered into the estimates of the speed of vessels and so forth, mingling thus with many of the transactions of ordinary life, the scale of which they exaggerate."(32)

In the early days of the Survey, Superintendent Hassler received much criticism and derision for his many concerns with his health and the many sicknesses to which he fell prey. Perhaps Hassler was a hypochondriac; but as the work progressed from the Mid-Atlantic states to Texas, it became apparent that this whole region was a breeding place for disease and vermin. The summer was designated the "sick time" in these areas; and fevers, respiratory ailments, and various infectious diseases were quite common. Field party personnel were not exempt from these maladies and occasionally work came to a halt while party members recuperated from virulent diseases. This occurred in the summer of 1853, when the double triangulation party of Assistant John Farley and Sub-Assistant J. R. Offley was working in Virginia on the James River between Richmond and City Point. One party was coming up-river from City Point while the other was proceeding down-river from Richmond. They wished to junction before closing out work in that area for the year. However, because of the "unhealthiness of the season on the river, both gentlemen becoming sick" it was decided to terminate operations on July 26. This decision was made in spite of having only an interval of 10 miles remaining between the work of the two parties.(33)

Sometimes the field assistants avoided the most extreme weather, with the corresponding opportunity for illness, by retiring to the office or their homes and computing the season's results. In the winter of 1854-1855, Assistant Farley worked in the field from October 15 until December 25 and then resumed operations again in late April. The most severe winter months were spent "in revising the computations of his work of last season, including those requisite for the comparison of the two bases [base lines] at Richmond and Petersburg...."(34)

Ferdinand Hassler's son, Assistant J. J. S. Hassler, was not one to shy away from inclement weather or remove himself from an area in which sickness was prevalent. He was chief of a combined triangulation-topographic party working up the North Carolina coast to Cape Henry, Virginia. In the winter of 1854-1855 he was working in an area of Currituck Sound that was too shallow for the navigation of his party's vessel, the Coast Survey Schooner VANDERBILT. As a consequence, his party operated out of open boats and flat-bottomed skiffs and "suffered a good deal from exposure to the inclemency of the winter."(35)

This experience was a minor inconvenience compared with the winter of 1856-1857. Hassler conducted a reconnaissance of the "desert tract" [today's Virginia Beach is one of the communities encompassed in this "desert tract"] between the head of Currituck Sound and Cape Henry and began the work of "opening avenues between the stations selected, and in consequence of the extreme inclemency of the season, this proved to be a work of unusual difficulty. Operations were begun early in December. Under favorable circumstances of weather, the natural obstacles to be encountered by the party in penetrating through swamps heavily timbered with gum, cypress, and oak, would have retarded progress, but to these were superadded impediments which have rarely interfered with the operations of the section. For continued periods during the winter the forest was covered with snow, which materially obstructed the advance of work on the lines, and the consequent fogs, added much to the difficulties experienced in making the subsequent observations...." Hassler gave up temporarily on the triangulation and began a plane-table topographic sheet of the area south of Cape Henry. The weather was unprecedented as: "Ice accumulated to the height of ten feet(36) along the beach south of Cape Henry. Nearly all the wild fowl in the vicinity, many of the fishes, and some of the cattle were frozen to death." (37)

J. J. S. Hassler, who over 40 years before as young Scipio had assisted his father with the first field work of the Survey of the Coast, survived one more season in the field. In the spring of 1858 he fell and broke an arm. Related to that accident, he "was seized by incurable disease, and, after much suffering, died on the 23rd of June, 1858." In eulogizing the younger Hassler, Superintendent Bache also paid homage to the first Superintendent of the Coast Survey:

"... Mr. Hassler was the son of the first Superintendent of the work, to whom, more than to any other man, the credit of its organization is due, and whose energy, peculiar abilities and knowledge, nursed it into life. He was from his youth, under his father's direction, employed in the work; and his restless activity of disposition kept him almost constantly in the field, abridging those periods of relief and relaxation which others seek, and exposing him to attacks of disease under circumstances most unfavorable to resistance. His system seemed to give way suddenly under a complication of disorders, and death found him almost in the midst of his occupations, with a spirit resembling his father's, faithful, devoted, unwilling to relinquish the

performance of duty to the very last. Mr. Hassler's age, at the time of his death, was fifty-nine years." (38) (39)

Violent weather along the southeastern coast could also provide Coast Surveyors with unwelcome surprises. Captain T. J. Cram, U. S. A., Topographical Engineers, Assistant in the Coast Survey, was working in Pamlico Sound [spelled Pamplico in Bache's reports,] North Carolina, off the Coast Survey Schooner GUTHRIE in the spring of 1859-1860. In late April his work was nearing an end and his wish to conduct observations from three additional stations "was frustrated by the very violent storm which raged in Pamplico sound on the 29th of April. Its force was such as to destroy the high tripod signals at Cedar island and Pea island, the heavy timbers of which they were made being broken so as not to admit of repairs. At Cedar island the water, raised by the action of the wind, swept directly across the site of the signal and undermined it. The signal at Roanoke marshes was also overturned, but re-erected afterwards from the same material. The station points, being marked well below the surface of the ground, were not lost by the overflow of the water in the storm alluded to...."(40)

Continuing to the south, high brush and trees obstructed lines of sight while working towards the Georgia boundary from the Edisto base line in South Carolina. To overcome this problem, the party of Charles Boutelle erected 45-foot tripods with observer's scaffolding at every station, "Excepting that in Beaufort, in which instance the tower of the Baptist church furnished the desired elevation, the structures were forty-five feet in height, and were erected by the party. The device of setting screens so as to protect the theodolite scaffold from the effect of prevailing winds was again employed by Mr. Boutelle...."(41)

In areas where plantations had been established on the sea islands of Georgia and South Carolina, the Coast Surveyors had relatively pleasant living, if not working, conditions. They were welcomed with generous Southern hospitality at these plantations. In spite of being a Massachusetts Yankee, Assistant Boutelle was the recipient of much of this hospitality: "I have so often mentioned in my reports the considerate kindness with which we have been allowed thus to occupy nearly every house along our routes, that it is unnecessary to enlarge upon it here. The character of our work along the seacoast of South Carolina is such that we are necessarily thrown much upon the courtesy of the planters who occupy it for facilities in prosecuting our labor, and in many cases we cause them both trouble and inconvenience. These have not only been cheerfully borne, but in addition thereto, an amount of personal kindness and consideration, combined with interest and aid to our work, has been everywhere manifested far beyond our expectations or deserts."(42) A few years later, Charles Boutelle would be considered a traitor and Union spy by these same planters for his assistance to Union forces in the Charleston area.


Today we think of Florida as a vacation paradise. In the mid-Nineteenth Century, much of Florida was a rude wilderness inhabited by hostile natives, dangerous animals, and myriads of insects. The southern 2/3 of the state had few settlements; and the climate, like that of most of the Gulf Coast, was debilitating.

Sub-Assistant Charles Ferguson worked at Indian River Inlet near Cape Canaveral in 1860. He found, "The difficulty in carrying on the triangulation arises from the character of the islands bordering on the ocean. They are covered with a dense growth of mangrove, oak, and palmetto, and the ground rises gradually from the sea-beach to the middle, where the hills abruptly end, leaving a swamp of palmetto underbrush, decayed logs, roots, and stumps of trees, on the western side of the islands."(43) This seemed almost easy by comparison with work in the Florida Keys though.

In 1855 triangulation and topographic crews were working in the Florida Keys in cooperation with the General Land Office establishing quarter-section posts. Sub-Assistant Samuel A. Wainwright made several ineffectual attempts to place these posts and reported, "The difficulties presented in its execution are almost insuperable. Operations on foot are in many places impossible, and in others the water is so shallow for miles in the coves that boats cannot be got through them.... It is often impossible to procure any suitable station, owing to the softness of the bottom, and to the thick growth of bushes on the shore."(44) Assistant John Rockwell reported similar problems: ".... The mangrove swamps which abound on the keys are among the most formidable difficulties. Tall signals become necessary in order to be visible above the trees, and lines have not unfrequently to be opened through the swamps. This is a slow, laborious, and expensive operation. The swamps are overflowed at high tide, and the mud, water, and mosquitoes that abound in them are beyond description, and these, with the intense heat of the climate, render the work of cutting almost impossible. The labor of opening lines and dragging boats over the shoals has proved to be very severe upon the crew and vessel...."(45)

Sub-Assistant F. W. Dorr added to the picture of working in the Florida Keys with his observation that while working 25 miles northeast of Key West strong northerly winds blew all the water off an extensive mud flat for a distance of two or three miles offshore. The surface of this mud flat was "covered entirely by gray mud, into which a pedestrian must sink more than two feet at every step."

Southern Florida had other problems throughout much of the 1850's. Although a major war had been fought with the Seminole Indians in the 1830's, they remained unconquered and chose to move ever-deeper into the Everglades of south Florida rather than submit to the United States Government. Coast Survey operations from Cape Florida to Cape Sable were carried on in Seminole territory. In the 1850's there was a renewal of hostilities. Although no Coast Survey parties were attacked, on occasion they were forced to move from their working area or were unable to obtain pilots to guide them to areas of active hostilities. In late 1856, F. W. Dorr was unable to engage the services of a pilot to take the Coast Survey Schooner DANA to Cape Sable from Key West "such was the general terror of the Indians."(46)

No matter how terrified the pilots and others were of the Seminoles, no Seminole touched a Coast Surveyor. However, disease was ever-present and struck down an aid to Assistant C. T. Iardella in December, 1856. After arriving at Key West on the Coast Survey Schooner AGASSIZ, Aid S. J. Hough "was seized with fever a few days after reaching port, and died on the 14th of December." Hough had worked the winter before in the Keys with Assistant John Rockwell and then in the summer with Superintendent Bache in the mountains of Maine.(47)

Conditions did not improve on Florida's west coast. At Charlotte Harbor a party under Lieut. W. R. Terrill, U. S. A., Assistant U.S. Coast Survey, coped by erecting 50-foot scaffolds, "the lines passing over dense mangrove, through which cuttings for sight on the signals would have involved great expense of labor and time."(48) Although the work in Florida was inherently difficult and dangerous, Superintendent Bache would occasionally embellish field reports for inclusion in the annual report. He reported a severe injury and subsequent treatment of a member of the party of C.T. Iardella in the following terms: "While engaged on the shores of St. George's sound, one of the men belonging to the party was severely wounded. The necessary operations of amputation and general treatment were performed by Dr. McClellan, of the army, to whose special courtesy and kindness Sub-Assistant Iardella particularly refers as deserving of the warmest thanks." (49) Such terminology, by merely telling part of the story, left the reader wondering whether an individual had been attacked by a Seminole, alligator, or water-moccasin. The truth was that Assistant Iardella's vessel was not on the working grounds but was in Tampa Bay weathering a blow. During this period, a crewman carelessly handled a pistol and shot himself in a finger necessitating amputation.(50)

Proceeding further north and west, in 1860 Sub-Assistant Spencer C. McCorkle experienced "severe hardship, particularly on St. Vincent's island, the parts of it necessarily traversed being made up of a succession of ponds and marshes" in cutting lines through the swamp and brush for triangulation lines-of-sight. He must have also encountered a very dry year as, "The latter part of the season, moreover, was very unfavorable, the atmosphere being obscured for a period of six weeks by fires in the woods along the shores of St. Vincent's sound."(51)


Assistant Ferdinand Gerdes felt, "Probably no tract of equal extent, included in the operations of the survey, presents so many natural obstacles to progress in the field as the delta of the Mississippi."(52) In the winter of 1856-1857 he divided the whole area into an interlocking series of second and third order triangles and measured a baseline at the junction of the passes. However, in the winter of 1857-1858 he found the river at its highest stage in twenty years and the marshes inundated from December until May. Exacerbating this situation were frequent fogs. In many areas, "The ground consequently had become too unstable for the use of the tripods and scaffolds, and the time and care required in making observations were thus doubled." Under some of the tripods which he had erected the year before, he found several feet of water.

At those principal stations having sufficient soil stability, Gerdes built tripods and observing scaffolds thirty to thirty-five feet high. Even at these stations he had to dig deeper than normal to set their legs. The intersection stations, which were observed upon but not occupied, consisted of tall signal poles inserted into screw piles and braced by wires. However, two violent storms blew down all of these structures. The first occurred on December 23, 1857, and then, after rebuilding all of the signals, another blew them down again on January 15, 1858. His schooner, the GERDES(53), was blown ashore in the second storm but was refloated with the only damage being the loss of an anchor and cable which were fouled in grounded logs.

By summer the ground was sufficiently hard in some areas to allow working without extraordinary measures. This was true of the mud islands at the mouths of the easterly passes. However, Gerdes recognized that these islands were ephemeral features for establishing triangulation points as when digging into them, "streams of soft mud will sometimes spout up for several feet. At any rate the mud islands appear suddenly, remain sometimes for years, and occasionally disappear entirely in a very short time." Another interesting feature that Gerdes noted was the existence of "springs of strongly salt water" sometimes surrounded by fresh river water. At one spring near Northeast Pass lighthouse, "the salt water rises up visibly at one place from a depth so great that all my efforts to ascertain it failed."(54)

Besides the mud islands, other features of the Louisiana coast were subject to rapid changes. Sub-Assistant J. G. Oltmanns, who was working at Cote Blanche Bay, saw that every gale changed the general configuration of the coastline and "large parts of the coast which, two years ago, were familiar in outline can now be scarcely recognized. Remarkable changes were noticed on the outside reef, and, amongst other instances, he reports that the station 'Centre Signal,' which was occupied by the party in 1856, from the surface of the ground has at present a depth of eight feet water over it. At other places, of formerly extensive shoals, he found even greater depths, and also very perceptible alterations in the outline of the marshes and swamps...."(55)

Man-made features were also ephemeral in nature. The station at the lake end of the Ponchartrain railroad was consumed by fire "before the angles from Little Woods and the Marine Hospital could be observed upon it..." leaving "the series with but two angles measured in several triangles. The station was located on the roof of a house, in the burning of which all marks of reference were destroyed."(56) Other problems in retaining marks in this area were noted. Sub-Assistant Stephen Harris, while working on Lake Borgne in 1859, was directed to make observations from the primary triangulation station Nine Mile Bayou. He discovered "the granite block placed there as a mark in 1852 could not be found. The shell bank in which it was then fixed had in the interval been removed as material probably for roads...."

Harris reacted to the destruction of numerous other triangulation marks in the area by adopting the following precautions: "1. The selection of stable ground not likely to be exposed to the action of water. 2. The use of a number of marks for each station, situated at such distances from each other and under such different circumstances, as to make it unlikely that all will be displaced by the same cause. 3. Distinguishing and determining each mark so that it may be recognized and its position known in case of the loss of all the other marks at the same station. 4. Making all the marks entirely separate from the observing tripods and scaffolds."(57) These common sense suggestions have since been followed by generations of surveyors within the Coast Survey and its various descendant organizations.

Another new method was first tried on the Gulf Coast as a result of the growing network of lighthouses. While working in the vicinity of Chandeleur Sound, it became necessary to determine the position of a new lighthouse on Lake Borgne. In doing this "the angle at Cat Island station, between Ship Island light and Chandeleur light, was measured to strengthen the determination of the latter. These observations were made at night upon the dioptric lights, which showed to great advantage."(58) This marked the first instance of night-time observations on artificial lights, a technique that became the dominant method of observing geodetic stations in the early Twentieth Century with the advent of reliable electric lights and portable power sources.


Assistant James Williams found that the Texas coast in 1851 could be a hard taskmaster. Williams headed the triangulation crew working throughout the Galveston Bay area and found that conditions were inimical to conducting triangulation work. He related to Bache, "The climate of this region, unless the last season is an exception to its general character, is singularly unfavorable for extended geodetic operations. The stormy winter, the short twilight, and intense heat of cloudless summer; the frequent, almost constant, high winds; the hazy, misty air,-- all battle against progress; indeed, the air may be said to be clear only during a norther, when it is impossible to make an instrument steady on its high tripod."(59) Williams had just returned from the California coast where conditions of working and living were even more difficult than in Texas.

Perhaps by 1853 Assistant Williams had come to like the Texas coast as the tone of this report indicated:

"Bay of Matagorda is admirably suited for triangulation; its width is convenient; there is no timber near it, except on the Colorado; and the depth of water within one hundred yards of the shore, (usually two and a half to three feet,) admits the economy and convenience of using vessels.... From the mouth of Cany creek southwestward, a sandy strip [Matagorda Peninsula,] not anywhere more than a mile wide, extends for sixty miles to Pass Cavallo; this separates the Bay of Matagorda from the Gulf of Mexico. The average width of the bay, for ten miles from its head, is not more than two miles; then it suddenly opens to a width of about four miles; and this continues very uniformly to this place, (Matagorda.) The northern shore of the eastern part of the bay is marshy, and extends back in a prairie far enough, as I judge, to include the interior points of the primary triangulation, giving sides of twelve to fifteen miles.

"Fortunately, there is a piece of dry prairie accessible from the bay, which gives a good position for a secondary point to be connected with 'Kenner,' the westernmost point of my last year's reconnaissance."(60)

In spite of Williams' change of attitude, Texas still had the last word with him: "In the occupation of station West Base, Mr. Williams met with very unfavorable weather; and on the 2nd of May a violent hurricane suddenly came up, which prostrated the camp and the observing scaffold, and so injured the instrument -- the fourteen-inch theodolite, C. S. No. 53, (Brunner) -- that the further continuation of primary work was rendered impracticable, and Mr. Williams commenced plane-table work which had been assigned him for a later part of the season." (61)


Henry Laurens Whiting, the dean of Coast Survey topographers, wrote: "The limit of land and water is the most striking and important outline which exists in nature...." To define this boundary between land and water, the Coast Survey sent topographic mapping crews to every part of the far-flung coast of the United States. In the period 1850 through 1860, 7,295 square miles were surveyed which encompassed more than 25,000 lineal miles of shoreline including tidal rivers and creeks. Superintendent Bache sent out an average of 17 topographic parties per year, each of which surveyed nearly 40 square miles.

There were three major facets to the topographic mapping conducted by the Coast Survey during the 1850's. The most significant result of Coast Survey topographic work was that for many areas it was the first systematic scientific inventory of the United States coastline's nature and characteristics. Often coupled with this first mapping was the tacit encouragement of settlement and the development of commerce. The second major result of this early mapping was to determine the extent of man-made and natural changes occurring since previous mappings of a given area. Resurveys became increasingly common towards the end of the decade. The third result from this mapping was the determination of the topography and characteristics of given areas for planning the construction of defense and public works installations. Surveys for forts, port facilities, lighthouses, and even aqueduct routes for the Washington, D. C., water supply were included among this genre of survey.

The principal tool used by the topographers was the planetable, a flat drawing board which could be attached to a tripod with an adjustable head which allowed leveling the board and orienting it with respect to direction. The topographer fastened a base projection with precisely plotted signals at a scale of 1:10,000 or 1:20,000 on the board and oriented it with respect to north. The topographer then occupied a series of known sites and observed selected cultural and natural features. The observing instrument was an alidade which was placed on the planetable and centered over the geographic location of the topographer's station on the projection sheet. The alidade was equipped with a straight-edge which lay in the same vertical plane as the alidade's line-of-sight. The topographer mapped features of interest by drawing rays along the straight edge emanating from the plotted geographic position of the topographer towards the observed feature. The intersection of rays drawn from various stations located the feature. Elevations were derived from vertical angle observations to the features. Of course, not every point along linear features such as cliffs or dune lines would be observed upon, so the topographer used his engineering and artistic abilities to fill in the gaps. Depending upon the nature of the terrain, culture, weather, and other factors, the topographer might have used supplementary methods such as chain and compass traverses, horizontal sextant angles, theodolite intersections, and, as a last resort, estimation and sketching.

Henry Laurens Whiting was the recognized leader of many talented topographers associated with the Coast Survey in the Nineteenth Century. It was said of Whiting that he could make a better map of the far side of a hill without seeing it than others could while standing before it. Whiting began work with the Coast Survey in 1838 and served continuously until his death in 1897. During the 1850's he worked at various times in most coastal states between New Hampshire and Georgia. Other notable Coast Survey topographers from this period included Alexander Wadsworth Longfellow, the brother of the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow; Ferdinand Gerdes, the principal assistant on the Gulf Coast for much of his career; Charles M. Bache and Richard M. Bache; Isaac Hull Adams, John Seib, and J. B. Gluck; Augustus F. Rodgers, a brother of Rear Admiral John Rodgers, who conducted much of his work on the West Coast; and a number of younger assistants such as Cleveland Rockwell, James Lawson, Clarence Fendall, J. G. Oltmanns, J. W. Donn, F. W. Dorr, and Samuel A. Wainwright.


In retrospect, the most valuable aspect of early Coast Survey topographical mapping was that it afforded a first look, or snapshot, of the state of the United States coastal environment in an early stage of development. Much of the coast was still in a pristine condition. Coast Surveyors worked from the rock-bound coasts of New England to the sand beaches, swamps, and marshes of the Southeast and Gulf Coasts. Their job was to observe and record the land in minute detail. They left many first-hand descriptions of their observations as well as hundreds of survey sheets. The topographic sheets included natural and cultural features such as: rock outcrops, cliffs, hills, and mountains; sand beaches and dune fields; coastal islands; marsh land; mangrove swamp; prairie lands; inlets; streams and rivers; the limits of pine and deciduous forests; cultivated fields; fence lines; roads, paths, and city streets; and piers, residences, commercial establishments, and public buildings.

Coast Survey topographers reported upon their progress, methods used in conducting a survey, and the nature of the area covered. In many instances, the topographer's map and report were the first detailed description of the area surveyed by a professional surveyor and engineer. In the aggregate, these surveys and reports were the first critical look at the total United States coastline. A few selected descriptions of areas, beginning in New England and working to the Rio Grande, are included to give an idea of the state of the United States coastline in the 1850's.

The Northeast Coast

Assistant Henry Whiting worked to the north of Cape Ann in 1853 and described how rapidly the character of the coast could change:

"The country surveyed this season has been quite varied. The rocky and broken character of Cape Ann seems to change very abruptly at about the Essex river; the masses of rocks, with their pine and cedar growth, disappear entirely, and the country has a soft and fertile appearance; the hills are remarkably smooth and undulating, and are scattered in quite distinct peaks or mounds, sometimes separated by tracts of marsh or quite level upland. These hills, within the limits of my survey, range from about two hundred to one hundred and twenty feet in height. The immediate shore is also quite different from that of Cape Ann and Massachusetts bay, being more like our southern coast. The long beach and sand-hills of Plum island, with the marshes and sounds behind it, is not unlike the coast of North Carolina, and with the same hydrographic characteristics, as the shifting bars of Ipswich and Essex rivers, with their shallow channels, plainly show."

In 1855 Whiting returned to northern Massachusetts and surveyed Cape Ann. Whiting wrote of Cape Ann: "...The character of the country is that peculiar to this ridge of Cape Ann, wonderfully broken, with abrupt hills, rocks, valleys, etc. The height of the country ranges from 150 to 200 feet; all minor and artificial details, as buildings, woods, fences, &tc., seem lost in the general character of huge rocks and boulders, sometimes absorbing nearly three curves....."(62) (63)

The next summer Assistant Whiting worked in the vicinity of New York and offered a surprising opinion, "Staten Island presents variety as great in the contrasts of surface as it does in scenery, and is certainly one of the most picturesque and beautiful of all the islands on the Atlantic coast. The highest land seems mostly confined to the northeastern part of the island, where some of the hills range over four hundred feet in height. These reach to the very shore on the north and east, and there develop into the pleasing villa sites of Clifton and New Brighton. Several valleys run through this high land in different directions, forming a most agreeable variety of hill and dale, the undulations of which admit of the highest degrees of cultivation. At the eastern side, bordering on the `Narrows' of New York harbor, the range of high land leaves the shore, and trends southwesterly towards the middle of the island, where it abruptly terminates. Beyond this, and extending to the southern end, lies a level tract, richly and variously cultivated."(64)

The Southeast Coast -- Virginia to Georgia

Many rivers were surveyed to the head of navigation by Coast Survey topographic crews. Among these rivers were the Hudson in New York and the James, Rappahannock, Potomac, and Appomattox in Virginia. The double party of Sub-Assistants John Seib and Samuel Wainwright began the topography of the Appomattox River at Petersburg, Virginia, in May of 1852 and worked towards its junction with the James River as fast as the triangulation party could furnish it with points to continue downriver. In mid-August, the crews furnished tracings of shoreline to a hydrographic party working in the river; but then "sickness prevailing among the party, the filling in of a small portion of the interior work was postponed to a more healthy season, and on the fifteenth of August the operations of this party were transferred to the eastern shore of Chesapeake bay." Seib and Wainwright noted that the "topography of the Appomattox is very intricate, the river being very narrow, branching often, and forming a number of small islands, whose shores are lined with thick bushes, and which are in many cases covered with woods." This characterized many of the tidewater streams of Chesapeake Bay.(65)

Continuing out of the bay, the topography of the Hampton Roads area was "low and even, the highest point above high-water mark scarcely exceeding ten feet; it is much intersected with creeks, coves, and branches, with considerable woodland and marsh...."(66) The area between False Cape and Cape Henry on the outer coast was surveyed in 1859 by Sub-Assistant John Mechan. He found, "Back bay [present-day Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge] is divided from the ocean on the east by a sand beach, the southern extremity of which is dotted with high sand dunes, and oak, pine, and cedar hummocks, containing the huts of numerous wreckers and fishermen, and known as the "Wash Woods." Further north are the "Wash Flats," a low smooth strand, so near the general level of the sea as to be submerged during strong easterly gales. When viewed from a vessel at sea, it seems a continuation of the ocean, and, with the high sand-hill range and trees of the "Wash Woods," presents so near a resemblance to the entrance of the Chesapeake at Cape Henry as to have been often taken for it, with disastrous effects; hence, it is called "False Cape," or "False Cape of the Chesapeake." The sand dunes at Cape Henry are in some places eighty-five feet above the ocean level."(67)

Proceeding down the coast to the Outer Banks, Sub-Assistant I. Hull Adams discovered that topography in certain areas can change rapidly from year to year. While working on the lower part of Bodie's Island, he found, "many changes ... in the positions of signals, woods, &c., from last year. The signal at Cove Point, established in 1851, at high-water mark, was found to be 100 metres in the ocean. Woods which existed have been choked by the sand drifted by the wind and water, and destroyed, leaving the beach bare or covered with dead stumps, where it was before well wooded."(68) Rapid change was not always the rule on this part of the coast; the previous year Henry Whiting, while working at Beaufort, North Carolina, found surprising persistence of land forms, "During the last thirty years there does not appear to have been any particular change, either in the shore-line or shoals within the limits of the harbor. The causes and action of tide, &c., which first formed them, seem to continue them in their general position and extent." Whiting characterized much of the North Carolina coast with this survey:

"The outside beach, or 'bank,' opposite Beaufort harbor, is of the usual formation of this coast. It is mostly covered with a low pine, and mixed growth, and its average width is half a mile; the sand hills and ridges upon it are from 20 to 35 or 40 feet high, thus forming a good and sufficient shelter, from both wind and sea, to all vessels anchored inside the banks; the holding ground is also good, as shown by the results of the hydrographical survey.

"The interior shores of the harbor are mostly of marsh, grown with masses of oyster-beds and shells, which, near the edges and where the sand has united with them, are quite hard and solid. At Lenoxville and Shepherd's Point, and at the town of Beaufort, the main upland comes to the water's edge. At the two former points, the deep waters of Newport and North River channels approach quite near the shore, and without any intervening shoals."(69)

Heading to the Georgia coast, Assistant Alexander W. Longfellow, the brother of the great American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, worked in the Sapelo Sound area in 1857 and described the topography of the area as having "the usual character of the southern coast, the sea islands being sand banks, protected on the ocean side by a series of parallel ridges thrown up by the action of the sea and the winds, and running generally with the trend of the coast. The level portions form the plantations which produce sea island cotton. These subside inland into extensive marshes, intersected by innumerable creeks, through which passes the remarkable channel of inland navigation ... extending from South Carolina to Florida."(70) The same year, Lieutenant A. W. Evans, U. S. A., Assistant on the Coast Survey, inspected Sapelo Island and the adjoining Blackbeard Island for a primary base line site. He found Sapelo "to be a congeries of hammock islands, originally separated, but now connected by marshes, which have assumed the character of hard savannahs, being now for the most part dry. These hammocks abound in live oak and palmetto, afford the best arable land, and are generally the highest ground. When they become, by successive vegetable deposits, a little higher than the neighboring marsh, the first growth is of scrubby pine. It is thus that the savannahs or prairies seem to possess no distinct line of separation from the adjacent pine land, but gradually to run into it, while oak is found growing upon higher and drier spots, having a well marked edge or shore."(71)


Florida was pioneer territory in the 1850's with few settlements and few amenities. Although encompassing a large extent of shoreline, the Florida peninsula displayed little variety in topography. The area around present-day Miami was surveyed in 1851 and 1859. The 1851 survey was performed by Assistant Isaac Hull Adams who found:

"There is very little variety in the character of the topography of the keys surveyed during the past season.... Key Biscayne has a fine wide beach on the eastern side, nearly four miles in length, of Atlantic sand, which is quite different from the shells and ground coral (Gulf sand) of the other keys. On the western side there is a very high growth of mangroves, and the character of the mud seems to be much the same as that about the other keys. This mangrove thicket extends nearly half across the island, for two-thirds of its entire length. The other part is covered with a thick palmetto scrub. The shore of the main land, commencing at Miami river, has a sort of hammock growth of about a quarter of a mile in width for three miles; after which, for about five miles, there is a prairie growth which extends back to the commencement of the pines. This pine land extends, in many places, to the everglades. For the next four miles the hammocks increase in width, interspersed with swamps and prairie grass. A narrow ledge of rocks, about ten feet in height and covered with trees, is a distinguishing feature of the first three or four miles below the mouth of the Miami river."(72)

Eight years later Sub-Assistant C. T. Iardella continued surveying to the south of Key Biscayne. Besides the topography, Iardella described many of the difficulties of working in this area:

"The main shore, from Shoal Point ten miles southward, consists of a strip of uneven breadth of prairie land called the `Hunting Grounds.' At some points it is quite narrow, but at others it stretches to a distance of six miles from the western shore of Key Biscayne bay, and is backed by a ridge of high land about a quarter of a mile in width. The ridge as far as Fender Point is covered with large pine trees, but below it, and as low down as Barnes's sound, it bears a heavy growth of black mangrove and other trees. Throughout the entire distance of thirty miles the shore is overflowed by high tides, in some places to a breadth of three or four miles.

"The western shore of Key Largo from Jewfish Point to North Largo, a distance of thirteen miles, is also overflowed at high spring tides; and on many occasions, while engaged there, the surface was found so soft as to require a foundation of mangrove branches for the plane-table. Beyond its western shore this key is covered with buttonwood, mangrove, sea-grape, and other woods. In an extended reconnaissance over that part of Key Largo, very little fast land was found, and no soil fit for the growth of vegetables.

"The small keys between Lignum Vitae and Sandy key are surrounded by extensive mud flats, and are entirely covered with water at high tides. Great difficulties were experienced in obtaining stations for the plane-table, the surface being of the nature of quicksand, into which a man of ordinary weight would at once sink to the waist. Here a triangle of wood six feet on a side was necessary to support the plane-table."(73)

Work on the west coast of Florida was no easier than on its east coast. Sub-Assistant N. S. Finney was assigned much of the early work between Tampa Bay and Cedar Keys. Finney's skill and patience were tried by the nature of the coast in this area. Around the Homosassa River entrance he encountered 236 "soft, marshy islands as existing within an area of thirty-five square miles." While working between the Wacassassa and Withlacoochee River entrances he was compelled to "dispense with the chain altogether, and carry on the work entirely by intersections; the surface being soft and broken marsh, very much cut up and traversed by innumerable small creeks and bayous. As a matter of necessity, the plane-table and instruments were transferred from station to station in the boat. There was great difficulty also in finding stations sufficiently firm, and, in consequence, most of those occupied were in water from one to three feet deep."(74) He found the character of the topography of this area to be "... a continued belt of marsh, cut by innumerable creeks and bayous, extending, in some places, ten miles towards the interior of the peninsula. Hundreds of small islands are found, partly covered with stunted mangroves, and nearly all overflowed at high water. The channels being left quite dry at low tide has rendered the survey tedious and difficult."(75)

Assistant George D. Wise experienced similar problems while working in Apalachee Bay and St. George Sound in 1860. Assistant Wise observed: "The main land east and west of St. Mark's is very low, and the marshes extend a long distance back. Our anchorage was on the open coast, between two and three miles from the land, in six or seven feet water, and at low tide our small boats would ground when a mile from the shore, which was reached with much difficulty through the mud." Wise also visited many of the beautiful springs of northwest Florida as he noted: "Many of the streams are subterranean, boiling up from great depths in springs of perfect clearness. The Ocilla, Wacissa, Wakulla, and Spring creek, all comprised within the limits of my survey, are of this character. I found bottom at Wakulla spring at eighty-eight feet, the lead being plainly visible at that depth."(76)

The Northern Gulf

Assistant William E. Greenwell was working on the coast of Mississippi in 1851 on the Coast Survey Schooner PHOENIX between Pascagoula and Pass Christian. The character of the country was quite similar to much of the coast from the western Florida panhandle to the Pearl River on the Mississippi-Florida boundary. The shore was "low and smooth, thickly wooded to the very water with pine, principally, interspersed with magnolia and hammocks of live-oak. Skirting the shore along is here and there a settlement, with small spots of cultivated ground, whilst the interior, for miles and miles back, is but a dense forest of pine, apparently in its wild and primitive state.

".... The town of Pass Christian, situated upon a ridge of fast land, about twenty feet above high water, sloping gradually towards the sound and again back in the interior, presents the only feature different from sheet 17. [Pascagoula area] Around it is the same wild, thick forest of pine as seen along the whole coast.

"The features of the country embraced in the Biloxi sheet are somewhat different from that just described. On the east shore of Biloxi the banks are abrupt, being from twenty-five to thirty feet in height, and of a red clayish soil."(77)

Approaching the delta of the Mississippi River, the character of the country changed rapidly. Assistant R. M. Bache, in charge of the Coast Survey Schooner G.M. BACHE, conducted the topographic survey of Lake Borgne in 1856 and noted problems that exceeded those of working in Florida. He reported: "In the country which I have just surveyed the cane was in many places so high as to render necessary the use of a portable platform, and so dense as to greatly impede the movements of the party, requiring sometimes the forward signal to be carried ahead in an extra boat, and the back signal to be sent for in the same way; so that, instead of making from thirty to thirty-five stations in a day, which can readily be done on the outside shore-line, generally only ten could be made, and those with the greatest labor."(78)

Assistant Ferdinand Gerdes commenced the topographic survey of the eastern part of the Mississippi Delta in 1859 and experienced similar conditions: "With the exception of the Gulf shore, which, north of the delta, is open and composed partly of beach and hard marsh, the plane-table could be nowhere used, the cane and reeds growing so high as to prevent any sight for sketching in the details. In making the topographical survey, flags of distinctive shape or color were placed at each turn of the river and its outlets, and their positions determined from two trigonometrical stations by the theodolite or sextant. At one reach several miles of the stream were surveyed by means of a signal hoisted on a boat and moved from point to point as occasion required...."(79)

Gerdes worked in Barataria Bay and Terrebonne Bay in 1853 and saw that some of the coastal islands were considered quite desirable. He described Isle Derniere as "an island of some twenty-two miles in longitudinal extent; on some places more, and on others less, than one mile wide. It is entirely level and low, with the small exception of a sand ridge, five or six feet high, running along the beach. For eight miles it has been covered with thick chaparral; but during the last three or four years the western part has become cleared and thickly settled, and now becoming, during the summer season, a very suitable and fashionable watering place for the large population at the Attakapas and Plaquemines. There are at present, perhaps, sixty houses in the village of Isle Derniere, nearly all owned by planters."(80)

Continuing further to the west, Sub-Assistant J. G. Oltmanns worked in Cote Blanche Bay, Louisiana, in 1859 and noted the shores to be "very marshy, excepting those of Cote Blanche island. Marsh island is so soft and swampy that the utmost care must be taken in setting up an instrument. Its shores are subject to frequent and rapid changes. Of late years the island has been cut through in several places, and the interior lakes and bayous are changed or enlarged by almost every storm....

"Cote Blanche island, like Belle Isle, is one of those remarkable formations of firm land standing out at intervals along this part of the coast of Louisiana from surrounding marshes. It is about a hundred and twenty feet high, and contains an area of, perhaps, two thousand acres of land, on which are raised sugar-cane, cotton, and tobacco."(81)


Assistant Samuel A. Gilbert was assigned to conduct secondary triangulation work at Matagorda Bay, Texas, in 1856. Although not written as part of a topographic report, Gilbert's description served as a reconnaissance view of the conditions to be expected by the topographic party. He wrote, "The general character of the country is level prairie, much cut with low, wet, boggy tracts and small bayous.

"There is no timber excepting on the islands in the Colorado bottom, and on the immediate banks where the land is low and subject to frequent inundations, and in those localities a very dense growth of cotton-wood, cypress, gum, and other varieties, interlaced with vines of various kinds, forms an almost impenetrable thicket.

"Through the islands, between the two mouths of the Colorado, run innumerable small bayous and channels, which are generally so choked up by fallen trees and drift-wood as to be inaccessible for boats of any kind.

"The trade in the river is limited, and by reason of the shell reef obstructing the navigation at Dog island, where the water, as well as at the mouth of the river, is lessened to two and a half feet, sea-going vessels, engaged in carrying sugar and cotton from Matagorda to New York, are under the necessity of receiving and discharging their cargoes by lighters at Shell island, at a distance of eight miles southwest of the town of Matagorda.

"The shores of Lavacca bay, in the upper part, rise from fifteen to twenty feet above the water level."(82)

Sub-Assistant Wyllys S. Gilbert, brother of Samuel, was assigned to the topographic survey of San Antonio Bay in 1860 and his mapping disclosed:

"The sand mounds on the western side of San Antonio bay are conspicuous from their height, several of them reaching an elevation of sixty feet, and the whole occupying a space of about a square mile, covered by an undergrowth of sweet bay-trees and live-oak, which gives to the locality the appearance of being heavily wooded. The country between San Antonio bay and the head of St. Charles's bay to within three miles of its entrance is sparsely covered by trees, principally live-oak. The scattered 'motts' within the same limits afford a refuge for the wild animals that infest the country. Panthers, tiger cats, and mustangs are said to abound." (83)

The "motts," or "montes" as they were called, were first described for the Coast Survey by Assistant W. E. Greenwell in his 1854 survey of the area around the Rio Grande River. He wrote:

"The country between Brazos St. Iago and the Rio Grande is mostly a level prairie of alluvial soil - a vast grazing plain, upon which thousands of cattle find subsistence the whole year round. Rising abruptly on this plain are islands, or `montes,' as they are called, varying from fifteen to forty feet in height -- curious features in themselves, since they all differ, both in soil and vegetation, from the level below. Upon these grows, in all its perfection, the mezquite, intermixed with a species of ebony and lignum vitae, perhaps the best fuel in the world.

"The Rio Grande is a narrow tortuous stream with an average width of not over four hundred feet. It is navigable for steamboats of light draft as far up as Roma, three hundred and thirty miles from its mouth, but impracticable for any other kind of vessels.

"The bar is a shifting quicksand, with an average depth of from four to six feet, and is impracticable for sailing-vessel unless in tow of a steamer."(84)


As the surveys progressed, occasionally shoreline changes occurred between the work of the reconnaissance and triangulation parties and that of the topographic parties. Sometimes signals established by the triangulation parties would be awash or completely eroded away by the time a topographic party commenced its work. Dramatic changes were usually the result of great storms that swept over barrier islands or pounded the mainland; but relentless tides and currents, although effecting changes not apparent to casual observers, continually sculpted the evolving shoreline. It became increasingly apparent that change was the one constant along much of the East Coast and Gulf Coast as the result of the unremitting action of wind, wave, tides, currents, and, in many instances, human activity.

The coast of Louisiana was noted for its changing shoreline. An 1851 Coast Survey reconnaissance in the area was compared to surveys run by Captain Andrew Talcott, U. S. A., Topographical Engineers, in 1839 at the entrance to the Mississippi and found that the "marshes have generally been extending further out to seaward...."(85) In 1853, Ferdinand Gerdes mapped Barataria Bay and compared it to work done by Major P. G. T. Beauregard in 1840 and found:

"1. On the west side of the main pass into the bay.... All this is now dry land.

"2. On the eastern point of the entrance, near the fort, the sea is making heavy inroads. Since last summer, the beach has lost more than one hundred yards, and the new United States quarters for officers are now distant only twenty-five or thirty yards from high-water, and perhaps twice as far from low-water mark. The front fence of the enclosure is washed away, and the place where it stood is below low-water mark. Any continued easterly storms will endanger all the buildings extremely, and must prove ultimately fatal even to the fort itself if the action of the water is not checked.

"3. A new channel (which I have named the East channel) has been opened....

"4. On the bar in the main channel, (Grand Pass,) the depth has generally increased...."

In his report, Gerdes also took time to comment on the history of the area:

"... This is quite classical ground in the history of the United States. Remains of old Fort Lafitte, and of many buildings, are to be seen still. It was here that the late Commodore Patterson(86) broke up the freebooters and pirates sailing under the Carthagenian flag; he destroyed the fort, which was mounted with twenty pieces of cannon, dispersed a force of from eight hundred to one thousand men, of all nations and complexions, and captured seven schooners (one armed, under Carthagenian colors) and one felucca.

"The whole gang had been harboring on the Chenaie islands, Grand Isle, and Grand-terre."(87)

Sometimes radical changes were noted right after finishing the topographic mapping. In late 1852, a hurricane swept over the area from Chandeleur Bay to Mobile Bay and "so altered the regimen of the vicinity of some of the islands as to induce a re-examination of Naso roads, and of Horn Island pass, before publishing the charts which had been prepared. The light-house at the Chandeleur islands was destroyed. A break was made through Ship island, and also through Petit Bois island."(88) In other areas the changes were gradual, but just as spectacular. Assistant Henry Whiting was able to ascertain that the 150-foot high Wequobsky Cliffs, along the south side of Martha's Vineyard, had been encroached upon "some fifty feet in nine years. This encroachment continues for some miles to the westward on the south side of the island. I found the beach washed in at 'Chilmark Pond station' about twenty or twenty-five feet, but this becomes less and less, until at the extreme southeast end of the island the shore seems to have increased if anything...."(89)

In the early 1850's, the concept of resurveying an area to specifically measure the change in shoreline and culture as opposed to serendipitously noting these changes became a standard goal of Coast Survey mapping. The first of these surveys was conducted in November, 1851, at Sandy Hook, New Jersey. This survey was done to determine if the Sandy Hook sand spit might continue migrating to the north and alter or block the New York harbor entrance. This first survey was commenced from "Ocean House northward, and six marble blocks were placed at points selected with reference to the facility of repeating this survey for future comparison."(90) In the summer of 1853, Ferdinand Gerdes was detailed to "make the resurvey of Sandy Hook" and found that most of the marble blocks had been removed or lost. However, he ascertained that "the Hook has changed somewhat, though not materially, in outline...." The same year, Gerdes was directed to also survey the area between Sing Sing and Port Washington along the Hudson River because of the great changes that had taken place since the last Coast Survey work in 1839.(91)

In 1855, Gerdes mapped more of the New York area; and, in considering the changes that had taken place in the past two decades, he surmised: "The sheet of East river, from Hell Gate to Throg's neck, I suppose must appear quite different from Mr. Renard's survey of 1837 or 1838. There are now large and flourishing villages and manufacturing places where then only single and scattered farms could be found. Cities, even, are laid out where he must have found marshes and forests."(92)

The work of topographic mapping in cities called for special techniques and quite a bit of patience. Assistant Alexander Wadsworth Longfellow surveyed the city of Portland, Maine, as part of a study of harbor improvements. As opposed to observing changes that had taken place since a previous survey, this study was designed to serve as a planning document in order to help predict and mitigate the potential ill effects of future commercial development on the Portland waterfront. He found the work to be "very tedious, from the numerous interruptions and delays in the crowded streets...." To accomplish the survey, he first determined the position of all conspicuous objects in the city "before running out the streets; and these, in addition to the triangulation signals, furnished numerous test points, which gave the most satisfactory means of comparison [to check the accuracy of the mapping.] The streets were first chained, to determine their length, width, and angles of intersection with others, and afterwards for the purpose of determining in position the houses and other features of detail."

During this survey, he chained over 73,000 meters encompassing over 40 miles of street, determined the location of 3,810 separate buildings in addition to whole blocks of buildings in the downtown areas, and determined the position of over 7 miles of wharf at the harbor.(93)

A final ante bellum major survey for detecting changes in shoreline was conducted in 1860 for the city of Boston. Henry Whiting resurveyed the islands in the outer harbor of Boston "which have suffered most change from the action of the waves, winds, and frost.... This survey on the scale of 1/5000 gives, with great minuteness, the present condition of the more exposed portions of the outer harbor. By comparison with the former surveys, it will enable the United States commissioners approximately to estimate the progress of destruction within the last thirteen years, and roughly to show what those islands were in form and dimensions before the trees and vegetation which once protected them were removed. The materials furnished by the wear of these islands are placed at the disposal of the currents and waves for the formation or increase of bars and shoals."(94)


Many of the Coast Survey Assistants were strong patriots and advocates of the rapid expansion of the United States and the development of its resources. The annual reports of the superintendent often proclaimed the opportunities for commerce and agriculture to gain a toe-hold or expand in the areas surveyed by the various field parties. Much of this expansionist rhetoric was quoted from the reports of the topographers. Not only did they report on the configuration of the coast line, but they also encouraged its settlement and use.

A good example of this tendency was the report of Assistant W. E. Greenwell who described the potential of the region around Mississippi Sound in 1852. Greenwell dwelt upon the importance of its timber resources and the importance of Mississippi Sound as an avenue of commerce. He rhapsodized, "The timber is inexhaustible, and the facility of getting it to the mills very great. The sound, too, forms a secure anchorage for vessels of any size, whilst the different passes from the Gulf into it are so plain and accessible as to offer, when once known, no obstacles. Few are yet aware of the depth of water that can be carried through these passes. When charts of this part of the coast are published they will, no doubt, more fully develop the resources of this region.... In addition to this lumber trade a new source of wealth has sprung up in the export of spars, which can in no part of our country, probably, be found so easy of access to the water, more free from defects, or of larger dimensions."(95)

In 1851, Henry Whiting reported "upon the natural character and peculiarities of Beaufort [North Carolina,] as a harbor and port" and also communicated his "opinion regarding its entrance and the facilities it might afford to the commercial interests of this region...." He then touted Beaufort as a port that "has many advantages and is well situated. There is no river or inland navigation to delay or require the towing of large vessels. A ship drawing 20 feet water can leave at any state of the tide with almost any wind, and discharge her pilot at sea in from 30 to 45 minutes after weighing anchor." However, Whiting then threw out the gauntlet to build railroads and port improvements when he bemoans the fact that "the usefulness of one of the best harbors and ports on our whole southern coast is lost from the want of proper facilities of communication and internal improvements, giving access to it from the interior country and cities."

Occasionally, topographic field reports would digress from pure description to more scientific discussions of the origin of topographic features and the forces tending to shape them. Assistant Longfellow wrote a geologically-oriented description of the topography of Casco Bay and Portland Harbor, Maine, in 1853:

"The character of the topography is moulded directly upon that of the geological formation which characterizes this region and the coast of Maine generally. This is a slate formation, with a stratification so much inclined with the horizon as to become nearly vertical. Its prevailing character is micaceous, though of so highly metamorphic a type as to pass in many localities into talcose or chlorite slate and other modifications. It presents to the most casual observer, in its external character, the strongest indications of having been greatly altered by heat. The general direction of the strata is northeast and southwest, as shown upon the map in the shore section; and in the contours of the interior, equally numerous trap dikes intersect the strata, following the direction of its stratification, the most remarkable example being just to the southward of the Portland light, and so large as to be shown upon the map. This dike having been worn away by the weather and the sea, has left a canal with vertical walls, through which the sea rushes at high tide.

"From the varied character of the rocks results an inequality of hardness: the softer and more friable portions, yielding readily to the power of the elements, are worn down and washed away, leaving small valleys or depressions between; the harder rocks extending generally in the direction of the strata. These give the characteristic form to the relief of the ground, the rock being generally but thinly covered with soil, and in many places entirely bare. In these reaches the decomposed rock forms a rich and warm soil, which affords the best arable land on the cape.

"In the wooded and uncultivated parts, back from the shore, these depressions, not being drained, form swamps and morasses, generally covered with alder bushes...."(96)

Perhaps Longfellow allowed himself to get carried away with this description. However, there was no United States Geological Survey at that time; and Bache had commissioned geologic studies of Florida by Louis Agassiz and of California by William P. Blake in the early 1850's. There was no other organization to describe the coastal geology, and perhaps Longfellow felt such descriptions to be a natural extension of his duties.

Although not as geologically-oriented as Longfellow, Henry Whiting described possible reasons for the longevity of Beaufort Harbor entrance. He discussed the role of tides, eddy currents, storms, depositional regimes, and the inter-relationship of geographic features in building a theory as to why Beaufort entrance remained relatively unchanged. He concluded that there were two major reasons why "the inlet and bar of Beaufort are probably the best on our whole eastern seacoast, south of the Chesapeake bay." The first of those reasons was "the shelter and eddy currents occasioned by Cape Lookout. The influence of these currents upon the inlet, opening as it does to the south, and in the 'bite' of the cove immediately under it, is, to cut and carry away the sands and shoals which storms may throw up, and deposit them at the point of the cape. At least, it is obvious that the influence which has formed Cape Lookout, and creates the deep water and bold shore of this cove immediately south of it, will not allow any deposits to take place at a point where the eddy and counter-currents have their greatest effect; while the projection of the cape, and the shoals extending beyond it, prevent the action of the sea within this cove from being as great, or having the same effect, as upon a coast presenting an unprotected and nearly even outline to the action of storms and breakers, as is the case on the shores both above and below Cape Lookout and Cape Hatteras."

Whiting states that the other major reason tending "to preserve the inlet at Beaufort, is from the non-existence of any large interior sound or bay.

"The current through the inlet is wholly a tidal one, and the back waters of 'Borgne' and 'Cove sounds,' and from 'Newport' and 'North' rivers, accumulate no more on the flood tide than escapes on the ebb; they are also of such extent and so located as to be materially affected by the tide, being filled and emptied by the flood and ebb, and there are no fresh-water feeders to either of the rivers sufficient to at all affect their currents.

"There is thus a strong and continual tidal current through the inlet, and this current is not lost or overpowered by a heavy swell from sea, deadening its effect and throwing back the sand, which it displaces, in shoals and bars; but it runs with the eddy currents of the cove into which the inlet opens, and the same action and effect is continued that the current out of the inlet produces, all tending to preserve and deepen the channel."(97)

Although such discussions as Longfellow's and Whiting's were not always correct in their assignment of cause and effect, they did serve to stimulate future investigators and were pioneering efforts in coastal geology and its relationship to coastal topography. Whiting's report on Beaufort, in particular, highlighted the necessity to study numerous disciplines in order to comprehend the factors affecting the formation and destruction of coastal land forms.


The hydrography, like the topography, consisted of original surveys, resurveys of areas suspected to have changed, and surveys for special purposes. Techniques used in the 1850's differed little from those used in the early surveys by Lieutenants Commanding Thomas Gedney and George Blake. Inshore surveys were done by sounding boats or small shallow-draft schooners. The survey boats were usually whale boats which could have up to six oarsmen, a coxswain, a leadsman, one or more anglemen taking horizontal sextant angles, a recorder, and a boat officer. The survey boats operated either independently or deployed from a mother ship that anchored in the working area. Offshore surveys were generally conducted by a ship although occasionally boats would be launched from mother vessels far offshore to conduct surveys of shoals. Precise positioning was accomplished by azimuth intersections from shore observers co-ordinated by signaling from the sounding vessel or by horizontal sextant angles observed on the survey vessel.

The goals of Coast Survey hydrography were: 1) to discover and make known the nature and location of hazards to navigation; 2) to assist navigators by defining and describing the nature and configuration of the sea-bottom; 3) to ascertain whether the winds, tides, currents, and sediments of an area would cause the sea-bottom configuration to change; 4) to predict the rate and direction of changes in sea-bottom configuration; and 5) to observe and predict changes that would result from human activity. Although not strictly a hydrographic function, the determination and survey of sites for lighthouses, buoys, and other aids to navigation were also a major function of Coast Survey field parties in the 1850's.


Most hydrographic surveys resulted in few, if any, discoveries of note. They provided snapshots of the bottom configuration of an area at the time surveyed, and, in general, were a form of insurance for mariners that increased the probability that an area could be safely transited. During the period from 1850 to 1861, the Coast Survey maintained an average of 10 hydrographic survey parties in the field and finished 520 hydrographic surveys. The average survey during those years encompassed 56 square nautical miles and had over 8,000 soundings obtained primarily by a leadsman swinging the lead and calling out the depth. To obtain those 8,000 soundings, vessels were sailed, steamed, or rowed an average of 217 miles per survey.

Buried within the statistics was the fact that there were basically two different kinds of surveys. Harbor and harbor approach surveys differed significantly in the density of soundings and intensity of work required as opposed to offshore surveys. The harbor surveys were done at a larger scale than the offshore surveys with correspondingly greater detail. Two large surveys (as compared to the "average" survey for number of soundings and miles of sounding line) accomplished in 1853 illustrate the difference between the two basic types of surveys. Lieutenant Commanding John Maffitt on the Coast Survey Schooner CRAWFORD conducted a survey of the Georgetown, South Carolina, harbor and its approaches. In the course of this survey of a relatively small area his boats ran 598 miles of sounding line in approximately 100 square nautical miles, obtained 68,520 soundings, took 90 bottom samples, and observed 9,850 angles to position the sounding vessels.(98) During the same year, Lieutenant Commanding J. J. Almy with the steamer HETZEL and the Coast Survey Schooner GRAHAM conducted a survey of the outer coast from Prout's Island, Virginia, to Cape Henry Light, a distance of thirty-three miles. On this survey, Almy ran 1,176 nautical miles of sounding line in an area of approximately 500 square nautical miles, obtained 18,106 soundings, took 37 bottom samples, and measured 5,778 angles for determining position of the sounding vessels.(99) The inshore survey required 115 soundings per mile of sounding line while the offshore survey required only 16 soundings per mile of sounding line, a ratio of 7:1. Sounding density was approximately 680 soundings per square mile for the Georgetown survey and 36 soundings per square mile for the Virginia survey. For vessel positioning, a fix was obtained approximately every 0.20 mile for the offshore survey while the corresponding value was 0.06 mile for the inshore survey. As in either case the survey vessel was advancing at approximately the same velocity through the water, it becomes apparent that the rate of data collection was much higher on the inshore work than on the offshore work. The record-keeping and plotting of survey observations were also correspondingly greater for the inshore work.

With both types of surveys, crews built signals and established shore camps for theodolite observers (observing time-coordinated azimuths to the survey vessel upon signal from the vessel,) installed tide staffs that required constant observation during the times of hydrography, and observed currents at critical locations. In the offshore Virginia survey, Lieutenant Commanding Almy observed 5 current stations; at Georgetown, Maffitt observed 16. Almy observed seventy-eight high tides and seventy-seven low tides during the course of his survey by means of 3,546 observations by observers reading the tide staff every 15 minutes. These readings were meant to correct the depths measured by the leadsman to mean low water. Maffitt's tidal effort was comparable as "observations were made by reliable and careful men, day and night." Although self-registering tide gauges had been introduced a few years earlier, their use was not wide-spread and many tide observations were made by visual observation of tide staffs well into the late Nineteenth Century.

Coast Survey hydrographers conducted surveys from Maine to the Rio Grande River and on the West Coast during the 1850's. They made many discoveries and also delineated known shoals such as the Inner Middle Shoal at Chesapeake Bay entrance "where there is only three feet of water, almost always breaking, and is the terror of vessels navigating this part of the bay....."(100) and Cape Romain shoals which "are of a most dangerous character, being directly in the track of the southern coasting vessels; lying six miles from the light-house, and with water of such good depth on the seaward side as might well deceive the most careful navigator."(101)

Most surveys, though, were mundane and of areas that were neither terrifying nor deceptive. Although much of the work was done by the Navy, some inshore surveys were accomplished as an adjunct to triangulation reconnaissance work by civilian assistants such as the surveys of St. Marks River entrance, south of Tallahassee, Florida, and that of portions of Lake Pontchartrain near New Orleans in 1852. As the 1850's drew to a close, an increasingly greater amount of the hydrography was done by the civilian assistants as the Navy presence was progressively shrinking. Concerning St. Marks River entrance, Assistant Ferdinand Gerdes reported, "On the bar of St. Marks, and in the Spanish Hole, the state of the water was minutely ascertained by a large number of soundings, which, from their uniformity, were reduced to a limited number, which you will find recorded in the accompanying chart......The soundings, of course, refer to low water(102), as I found it during the survey."(103)

Another example of hydrographic surveying accomplished as part of reconnaissance work was the survey of Milneburg Harbor on Lake Ponchartrain. During this survey, Assistant Samuel A. Gilbert "found very even soundings throughout, and that the character of the bottom is generally the same in similar depths of water. From the shore to a depth of five and a half or six feet the bottom is very hard, being sand and broken shells; from that outward it gradually becomes softer in its character, and at ten feet is composed of soft blue mud and shells, which affords excellent holding-ground for vessels at anchor." Gilbert also discussed the effect of human activity on the hydrography of the lake, a theme which would receive increasing attention by the Coast Survey. He observed a sand shoal on each side of the wharf at Milneburg which he attributed to the manner in which the wharf was built and that it obstructed "the currents which set along the shore at right-angles with the wharf, with a velocity of two and a half to three miles an hour.... an eddy is formed on the east side, and the heavy particles borne along by the current are deposited. Such, also, is the case with the west side when the flood-tide rushes in."(104)

The hydrographic survey work continued in spite of many problems. Lieutenant Commanding Charles H. McBlair, commanding the steamer WALKER on the continuing survey of Nantucket Shoals, noted in 1852: "The survey has been attended with increased difficulties, arising from the remoteness of the field explored from the port of refuge. We have succeeded, however, in placing upon the chart the most eastward and least accessible of the shoals, and such progress has been made in the general hydrography as to warrant the expectation that it may be completed in one more season."(105) The following year marked the completion of the initial survey of Nantucket Shoals. [See page ____.] In spite of Lieutenant McBlair reporting that he had succeeded "in placing upon the chart the most eastward and least accessible of the shoals," Lieutenant Commanding T. S. Phelps on the CORWIN, acting on the report of a merchant ship captain, surveyed two small 10-fathom shoals twenty-three miles to the southeast of Davis's South Shoal in 1860. The survey of those two shoals, designated Phelps Bank, finished the pioneer surveys of Nantucket Shoals.(106)

Difficulties were not confined to the eastern seaboard. In 1853 hydrographic parties on the schooners MORRIS and BELLE were working in the Galveston Bay area when hit by a violent storm on May 2. (This was the same storm that prostrated the shore camp of Assistant James S. Williams, blew down his signals, and damaged his theodolite.) Both vessels were damaged and subsequently the BELLE was laid up in Galveston. Lieutenant Commanding John Wilkinson(107), U. S. N., Assistant in the Coast Survey, took the crew of the BELLE on board the MORRIS as a double crew to work with the boundary commission off the entrance to the Rio Grande.(108) The astronomer and surveyor of the Texas-Mexico boundary was Major W. H. Emory, a brother-in-law of Superintendent Bache. Although Bache complained that the damage to the MORRIS "measurably interfered with the progress of the season's work, especially that designed to have been executed on the outside," he pronounced the season's work satisfactory and praised Wilkinson's "energy and perseverance" in completing all that was accomplished under the circumstances.

The MORRIS left the boundary area on August 20, well into what was considered the "unhealthy season" on the Gulf Coast. The ship was in very poor condition, so Wilkinson sailed it to Pensacola and laid it up there. Because of a prevailing epidemic, he detached the officers and crew and booked passage for most of them on a vessel sailing for New York. The ship's doctor, Assistant Surgeon Daniel L. Bryan, stayed behind to care for the sick at the Pensacola Naval Hospital, contracted the disease, and died September 14, 1853. Illness was not confined to the port cities. Steam engineers Washington Nones and George E. Shock of the Coast Survey steamer WALKER also contracted the disease and died during the 1853 epidemic. In 1854 the CORWIN, Lieutenant Commanding T. A. M. Craven, was surveying Wimble Shoals between Nag's Head and Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, "when the cholera broke out on board his vessel, and he was obliged to leave...."(109)


Prior to 1850, the Coast Survey had made about 20 discoveries of hazards to navigation, hydrographic features that would help the mariner position his vessel, or new routes and channels that would shorten the sailing time of a mariner approaching or leaving port. By the end of 1860, that number had swollen to well over 150. Surprisingly, many of these discoveries were made in well-traveled waters including approaches to harbors and within marked channels.

Perhaps the most surprising discovery of this era was Stellwagen Bank, on the main route into Boston harbor. This bank is just a few miles to the north of Cape Cod and stretches toward Cape Ann. It is over twenty miles in length and five miles across and lies in the path of major routes from Boston to Europe and points south. In 1854, Lieutenant Commanding Henry Stellwagen, U. S. N., Assistant in the Coast Survey, discovered this bank in the course of regular hydrographic surveys. He underscored the importance of this discovery in his report: "I consider promulgation of this discovery as very essential to navigators, and that the knowledge of it will highly benefit commanders of vessels bound in during thick weather, by day or night. By it they can not only ascertain their distance to the eastward of the coast, but, by attention to the lead after passing inside, a good idea of latitude may also be obtained...."(110) Attention to the lead included both depth and bottom characteristics. In Stellwagen's initial survey of the bank, he ran six lines crosswise and two lengthwise. Besides general depths of 10 to 15 fathoms, he determined, "The northern end of the bank has rocky bottom, with, however, a slight covering of fine black sand. The middle and southern parts are coarse white and yellow sand. The bottom inside of the bank, in deep water -- and this is quite an important observation -- is generally a green unctuous mud, or ooze."(111)

Superintendent Bache felt that, "Stellwagen's Bank will rank in importance with Gedney's channel, at the entrance of New York, and Davis' shoal, on the highway to that mart from Europe and the eastern States, and will add another proof that important discoveries and developments are to be made by the Coast Survey, even in what may be called the beaten tracks of commerce and navigation...."(112)

In 1856 the Coast Survey Schooner GALLATIN, under Lieutenant Commanding C. R. P. Rodgers, U. S. N., Assistant in the Coast Survey, and cousin of John Rodgers, was working in the well-frequented waters of Nantucket Sound. Rodgers reported on the frustrations of attempting to conduct hydrographic surveys in an area subject to haze and fog. The positioning method adopted was that of intersecting azimuths observed by shore parties. However, "Many miles of soundings were run, but day after day, upon communicating with the theodolite observers on shore, it was found that they had not been able to follow us with their telescopes, and that part of our labor had been fruitless.... The task was peculiarly difficult; the haze which prevails in that vicinity, the rapid tides, the rough sea, and the broken character of the bottom, presented obstacles to be surmounted only by the most patient perseverance."(113) Rodgers worked in the area the year before and had not altered his opinion of the weather conditions as he reported, "The wind in this locality is rarely moderate; when there is not a flat calm, the breeze is usually fresh enough to baffle or impede the hydrographer, while in the frequent fogs he also finds a formidable enemy."(114)

Rodgers hired a small steam vessel, the FIRE FLY, which made it possible to work in the adverse wind, current, and sea conditions. His "patient perseverance" was rewarded by the discovery of a shoal northwest of Nantucket Island. This shoal, which Rodgers designated Edwards Shoal, lay "in the channel-way south of the Cross Rips, surrounded by deep water, and its crest is a narrow ridge, more than half a mile in length, with only ten and twelve feet water upon it...."

Lieutenant Commanding C. R. P. Rodgers(115), who spent over six years on the Coast Survey, was amazed that this shoal had not been previously discovered. He commented: "It is remarkable that a shoal like this, so constantly passed by vessels beating through the southern channel of Nantucket sound, should have been so long unknown, and particularly that it should have escaped the notice of pilots.

"Its discovery forcibly illustrates the value of the comprehensive methods employed in the Coast Survey, and the practical utility of making the hills and valleys of the sea as well known as those on the shore...."(116)

Not all discoveries were hazards or navigational landmarks. Coast Surveyors surveyed many areas which were thought to have dangerous shoals or no apparent passage only to find clear water or easily navigable channels. On the eve of the Civil War, Assistant Charles O. Boutelle was conducting triangulation in the vicinity of Beaufort, South Carolina. When sailing between stations on the Coosaw and Morgan Rivers, he kept the lead swinging continuously to keep his own vessel off shoals. In the course of doing this, he added a section of deep water to the Inland Passage between South Carolina and Georgia that would have implications for communication between Charleston and Savannah during the upcoming conflict. Boutelle wrote of his discovery:

"That part of Coosaw river lying above Coosaw island, and between the island and the junction of Beaufort river with Coosaw river, has been supposed too shallow for the steamers that formerly passed between Charleston and Savannah, and they have often grounded there at very low tides.... In beating down the river last week I found a continuous channel which will probably give fifteen feet at mean low water over the whole bed of rocks which forms the bottom of the river, where six and seven feet was supposed to be the best water."(117)

Superintendent Bache committed an error in publicizing this finding in his annual report for 1860. A few years earlier he had recognized the strategic implications of the inland water communication of the Southeast Coast when he surmised, "The inland passage from Savannah river to the St. Mary's, now so useful to commerce, becomes, in the event of war, of inestimable value."(118) Perhaps when he wrote this, Bache was thinking of war with a foreign power. However, it is probable that South Carolina had already seceded from the Union by the time the Coast Survey report for 1860 was published and such information could have helped the Confederate cause.

Discoveries were also made in areas already surveyed by the Coast Survey. Unfortunately, some of these discoveries were made by vessels that ran aground on uncharted shoals. In 1855 Commander Charles Henry Davis, who had served with the Coast Survey for seven years in the 1840's, was head of the Nautical Almanac Office at Cambridge, Massachusetts, but retained his interest in hydrographic surveying. In possible response to an accident in Boston Harbor, he worked with Mr. Alfred Nash, a harbor pilot, in determining the location of a number of rocks which had been missed in the original survey of the harbor. Commander Davis provided Pilot Nash with a list of "dangerous places said to exist" which Nash verified. Davis then precisely determined the location of the dangers for charting purposes. Davis commented upon the reason for discoveries of this nature in the well-traveled Boston harbor:

"Owing to the broken, jagged, and uneven form of the rocky bottom of Boston harbor, in which numerous high-spiring points, with scarcely surface enough for the lead to rest on, are known to exist, these discoveries must be occasionally expected. They are made by vessels striking on shoal spots, where only good water had till then been known. These spots are, in fact, often surrounded by the deepest water. They are not likely to be found in any other manner, for there is nothing in the character of the bottom or its form (being, as it is, wholly devoid of any regularity of contour) to indicate the places of these sharp points...."

Davis allowed some professional pride to enter into this discussion as he had conducted the original surveys of Boston Harbor for the Survey. He argued that the discovery of pinnacle rocks "by the most skillful pilots, added to the fact that they lie for the most part in deep water and in the channel-ways, prove that the survey is fully up to the actual state of knowledge, and keeps pace with its advances." Although he spoke the truth, he waxed strident when he continued, "An opposite opinion could only be held by one ignorant of hydrography and of the nature of this ground."(119)

Superintendent Bache reacted to the Boston Harbor discoveries by writing an apologia for hydrographic surveyors in general: "... Rocks along coasts and in harbors are extremely difficult to find unless where the sea breaks upon them, and no reasonable expenditure of time and means would suffice to make the hydrographer sure that he had found, even by sweeping with deep-sea lines, all such dangers to navigation. A remarkable low tide, with a heavy swell, often reveals these hidden dangers in places where they have been unsuspected, and after a channel has been used by thousands of vessels, day after day and year after year, a point of rock is found by bringing up some unlucky craft. The hydrographer does his best with the sounding-line, obtains all the information he can from pilots and fishermen, and then often must incur the blame, but ill-deserved, of having omitted some pinnacle of rock from his chart."(120)


By 1850, sufficient hydrographic survey work had been accomplished to note significant changes in many areas along the East and Gulf coasts. In fact, it became apparent that change was the rule for most harbors and for virtually all exposed areas south of the rock bound coast of New England. Recognizing this fact, Superintendent Bache came to realize that the work of the Coast Survey would never be complete in the sense that resurveys of many areas would be required. His policy became one of surveying important localities every few years to "give the means of knowing the direction and amount of change taking place, of studying the causes, and of applying the principles of engineering to controlling and modifying them."(121)

The earliest resurvey for specifically ascertaining the extent of changes since earlier surveys was done during Hassler's superintendence in the late 1830's at New York Harbor entrance. This was done again in 1848-1849 and also included the south side of Long Island. The 1848-1849 survey found that, "The inlets of Fire Island, Gilgo, New inlet, Hog island, and Rockaway, have changed considerably since the former surveys, the channel in each having moved to the westward...."(122)

The recognition of such changes became the norm. In 1851 Lieutenant Commanding Tunis Augustus MacDonough Craven, U.S.N., Assistant in the Coast Survey,(123) noted "the remarkable changes" that had occurred between 1846 and 1851 at Aransas Pass, Texas. The comparison must have been based on an early reconnaissance as Craven's 1851 work was the first Coast Survey hydrographic survey of the Aransas Pass area. He found:

"The point in my reconnaissance designated as 'Old Range,' was, in 1846, within 120 yards of the channel, and the 'Range' itself was awash. It is now 350 metres from the beach, and upwards of half a mile from the mid-channel....

"The point I have marked as 'E. Range' was formerly a Pilot's Range, and fifteen months since was about fifteen yards from the beach in the channel way; it is now 340 metres from the beach.

"You will see from the above, that the point of St. Joseph has, for five years, been working out to the southward, and as it encroaches on the channel, the opposite point of Mustang island wears away with equal rapidity. All of the point of St. Joseph, from the 'Old Range' to the spit at the narrows, is a loose, sandy flat, which has been entirely formed since 1846, and on which vegetation has commenced...."(124)

The following year (1852) Lieutenant John Maffitt resurveyed the channels leading into Charleston Harbor at the request of the Charleston Harbor commissioners "for the purposes of ascertaining the changes produced by storms, &c...." This survey was an early example of an integrated physical and geological oceanography study as Maffitt made "borings on the bar, which he succeeded in sinking to the depth of fifteen and fifteen and a half feet; specimens of every foot of which have been preserved, with specimens of water bottled at every hour of flood and ebb tides." Current observations were also made during this project.

Maffitt was Superintendent Bache's favorite hydrographer. He publicly praised Maffitt's performance in this survey: "I cannot, in justice, omit the statement that the labors of this party have, in amount, as compared with means, in constancy, and in success, exceeded any which have yet come under my observation in the progress of the survey."(125) As Superintendent Bache was a member of the Charleston Harbor Commission,(126) perhaps he was grateful for Maffitt's work as it reflected on both him and the Coast Survey.

Later in the year, Maffitt resurveyed Cape Fear River entrance and found:

"... The resurvey of the Cape Fear bars exhibit very marked changes, which are characteristic of all sand-bars. I have observed, and had it also attested by the pilots, that a strong northeasterly wind has the effect of deteriorating New inlet bar in depth, and the main and western bars are thereby improved; vice versa, a continuance of southerly or easterly winds shoals the main or western bars, and improves the new inlet. The migratory nature of the various shoals in the channel way over these bars, renders it expedient for strangers always to employ a pilot, as the chart sailing directions cannot, under these circumstances, be relied upon for any specific length of time."(127)

Comparisons for determining change in a given area were made with surveys from other organizations, when those surveys were deemed reliable. Lieutenant Commanding Benjamin Franklin Sands of the Coast Survey Steamer WALKER made a comparison of his 1852 reconnaissance of the Mississippi Passes and an 1839 survey by the Army Topographical Engineers and discovered that:

"The Pass a l'Outre has deepened, while the Southwest, and indeed all the outer passes, have shoaled. The Southwest Pass has extended nearly a mile further into the sea, in a southwesterly direction; the Pass a l'Outre nearly three-fourths of a mile in an easterly direction; the deposit having been pushed out further by the current in the direction of the passes, and gained thus much in the struggle between it and the waves of the Gulf, caused by gales from the southward of east or west--tending to prove that in the aggregate the current of the Mississippi has the preponderance over the force of the waves, which leads me to believe that a good channel may be kept open by 'dragging' or raking, as suggested by Professor Forshey (128), of New Orleans, which will keep alive the mud, and allow it to be carried off by the current."(129)

Sufficient experience had been gained by 1853 in the study and delineation of harbor entrances on the mid-Atlantic and Southern Coasts that John Maffitt was able to state authoritatively after the initial survey of Georgetown, South Carolina, "The bar of Georgetown, like the southern bars in general, is subject to constant changes; the absence of previous reliable surveys prevents a comparison by which the changing character of the bar can be judged." In spite of this, Maffitt made predictions concerning the near-term fate of various channels based on this first survey. He observed "that 'Mother Norton' shoal is rapidly increasing in a southeasterly direction, which naturally presses the last quarter of the ebb-tide to the eastward, with the tendency, it is presumed, to improve the northeast or new channel..." while also noting, "The increase of the Great Dry breaker has forced the main channel to the westward, to the destruction of an inner channel, called the Goose Neck channel."(130)

Not only inshore areas but also offshore areas were monitored for change. In 1857, Lieutenant Commanding C. R. P. Rodgers surveyed Georges Bank off the Massachusetts coast with the revenue cutter MORRIS (possibly not the same vessel as the Coast Survey Schooner MORRIS) and compared his work to the 20-year-old Navy survey conducted by Lieutenant Charles Wilkes. Lieutenant Rodgers found, "The position of the shoalest water seems to be the same as it was when surveyed by Capt. Wilkes twenty years ago. The least depth found by us was thirteen feet at low water - two feet less than the least found in the examination made in 1837."(131)

By the end of the 1850's, knowledge that conditions were constantly changing for many harbors and harbor entrances led to requests from municipal and federal authorities for resurveys of many areas. The 1858 Superintendent's Report included such references as "... Comparative maps of the Cape Fear surveys of 1853 and 1858, and sketches of Hatteras and Ocracoke inlets have been drawn.... The hydrography of the Cape Fear entrances has been re-examined for changes, by request of the United States Commissioners. Maffitt's channel, Charleston harbor, has been resurveyed.... A comparative chart of St. John's bar, from the surveys of 1853 and 1857, has been drawn...." The Maffitt's Channel survey was conducted to check the effectiveness of dredging and demonstrated that the depth and access to "this important entrance to Charleston harbor" had been improved. Also in 1858 at Boston Harbor, "supplementary soundings were made in the vicinity of Sunken Ledge, a spit of sand and gravel having made out from it since the date of the survey of Boston harbor, so as to require a corresponding alteration in the chart...."(132)


Hell Gate

With the new understanding of the coastal environment brought about by the observations of the Coast Survey came a desire to modify the environment for human benefit. The earliest examples of this within the Coast Survey were the 1848 reports of Charles Henry Davis and David Dixon Porter in which they suggested that Way's Reef, Pot Rock, the Gridiron, and other rocks be removed from Hell Gate between Long Island Sound and the Hudson River. This narrow passage was notorious for ships losing control and running aground or sinking because of strong currents sweeping vessels into the rocks and reefs. Lieutenant Porter had determined that Pot Rock was the most dangerous obstruction and "once removed, Hell Gate would be less dangerous by one-half, and the eddies, which are now the cause of half the difficulties, would in a measure disappear."(133)

Acting on these suggestions, a group of New York private citizens hired a French engineer, a Mr. Maillefert, to blast the various rocks and reefs out of the channelway. Maillefert did not drill into the rocks to be blasted, but instead, laid successive charges on top of the rocks and blasted them down in increments. Between blasts, a Coast Survey hydrographic crew under Lieutenant Commanding Washington A. Bartlett measured the changing depths and configuration of the rocks in the blasted areas. At Pot Rock over 30,000 cubic feet of rock were removed by the firing of 220 charges. Pot Rock's depth was increased from 6 feet to 20 feet during these operations. Other obstructions were removed during these blasting operations making Hell Gate significantly safer for vessels traveling between the Hudson River and Long Island Sound. Coast Survey hydrographers monitored this work as it was in progress. Bache felt that, "The Coast Survey chart of Hell Gate, and its approaches, will be modified in accordance with the changes which may be developed, and the first edition will serve as a historical record of no small value and interest."(134)

A side note to the surveys and demolition efforts was that metallic boats were borrowed from a Mr. Joseph Francis for the use of the demolition engineers and surveyors while the work was in progress. Lieutenant Bartlett remarked during the course of the work, "His boats have been in constant use for months, on and around the rocks at Hell Gate, and are now in daily use, and perfect order, without the expenditure of one cent for repairs. No collision ( by any exertion of their crews) with the rocks hurts them, and we have purposely placed them directly over the charges of 125 lbs. of powder, and blown them up with the concussion of the water, without the slightest injury."(135) Why Bartlett chose to make such experiments is a mystery. One can only wonder what the nature of his report to Superintendent Bache would have been had he succeeded in destroying the boats.

Portland Harbor - Social Engineering

In the early 1850's a railroad was built from Canada to Portland, Maine, making that city the deep-water port for Montreal and Quebec. As a result of this railroad, Portland anticipated a doubling of its maritime commerce within the following decade. Consequently, city leaders invited a commission to study their harbor consisting of Superintendent Bache of the Coast Survey; General Joseph Totten, Chief Engineer of the Corps of Engineers; and Commander Charles Henry Davis of the Navy. The report of the commission is a landmark in the study of harbor engineering perhaps not so much for its scientific content as for its social and philosophical content. This report marked the first time that a harbor was studied to determine the most effective and least injurious means of improvement prior to construction as opposed to studying a harbor after "improvements" which caused great harm had been made. Perhaps reflecting the reform-minded spirit of the times, the commission recommended the establishment of a permanent government body vested with the authority to monitor and regulate changes caused by both natural causes and human activity. The commissioners furthermore espoused the radical viewpoint that private property rights must be subordinated to the "common good" in order to assure unbridled development did not irreparably harm Portland Harbor.

The primary objective of the commission's study was to recommend an optimum shoreline "beyond which parties should not be allowed to encroach upon the water" so as "to prevent, by timely action, injury to the noble harbor in question." For Bache and his fellow commissioners:

"...the case now presented is one of a novel and singularly interesting character. The common occasions for calling together a council of engineers for harbor improvements have been either to remedy natural defects, to repair the consequences of neglect, to restore a regimen which has been disturbed by natural convulsions, or to remove artificial constructions which have proved injurious to the channels.

"The Commissioners believe there is not one, in the long list of cases which they have met in the course of their reading, where the engineer has not been required either to undo what has been badly or thoughtlessly done, or else to do something which will supply a positive defect. But the grateful task assigned to this commission is entirely different. It is not called upon to introduce any change into the natural state of things, or to condemn the errors of the past. Having before it a harbor of excellent capacity, with sufficient natural means of self-preservation, it is only expected to show how that capacity may be safely used, and how those means may be maintained unimpaired."

A second major goal of the study was to generate a plan which would guide the city of Portland in expanding its harbor facilities and help it "escape, in future, those great evils and expenses which have been so frequently incurred by mismanagement or neglect in other places." In particular, the report referred to Great Britain and Ireland as having many examples of mismanaging harbors as the result of rapid and unplanned construction of new facilities in response to an increase in trade.

Thus, the commissioners felt a heavy responsibility to develop a plan which would allow for the increase of commerce while at the same time assuring that the harbor was not damaged. Developing a plan was relatively easy. However:

"... it is very evident, the Commissioners would remark that, for the adoption and successful prosecution of any plan of improvement, a controlling supervisory power over the harbors of Portland and all its interior basins must be lodged in competent hands. If no such power exists, action will be always desultory, and sometimes mischievous, as it has been in other places. This is a position which need not be maintained by any long argument. It is quite apparent that owners of lands bordering on the tidal waters will, if permitted, follow out their distinct designs without concert of action, with different objects in view, and with a special regard to those objects, irrespective of any general effect that may result from them. It is equally apparent that, in a case of so much general importance as the present, the rights of private property should not be allowed to interfere with public utility. To enforce this consideration, instances may be mentioned where the exercise of private rights has caused great and almost irremediable injury.... All of them convey the same lesson, which is, that the want of an intelligent and permanent supervising authority, which will examine and regulate in all respects, however detailed or general, any occupation of the water area, is certain to lead to harm, and to produce effects which must be counteracted at some future period with difficulty, hazard, and expense."

The commission recommended that the city government of Portland take over the supervision of harbor improvements unless the state legislature establish a:

"... permanent Commission, with authority to direct constructions in all the tidal harbors of the State.

"In order, however, to guard against misapprehension, it may be well to say that there is no desire to encroach upon, much less to defeat, private and corporate rights. It will be readily understood that, in this question, there are two classes of interests somewhat distinct from each other - public and private. There are also two classes of objects -- special and general. Neither one of the objects or interests need, necessarily, be sacrificed to the other; but it will often demand a sound discrimination to render them compatible with each other. The exercise of such a discrimination properly belongs to a durable and responsible body. And the Commissioners cannot but express the hope and expectation that they are now addressing a body which either is, or will hereafter be, invested with suitable controlling powers, by means of which it can restrain ignorance, allay contention, reconcile jarring interests, and educe the common (which is the highest) good."(136)

New York Harbor

The greatest of the ante-bellum harbor studies was that of New York Harbor. In 1855 the Commissioners on Harbor Encroachments of New York requested that new hydrographic surveys of New York Harbor be conducted in the interests of commerce, defense, and navigation. The first surveys had been conducted twenty years earlier and considerable natural and man-made changes had occurred as shown by partial resurveys in different areas. Following the completion of the second series of hydrographic surveys of New York Harbor, an advisory council, consisting of Superintendent Bache, General Totten, and Commander Davis, produced a map and report for the Commissioners on Harbor Encroachments detailing the extent and nature of changes that had occurred. They also suggested that a physical survey of the harbor be conducted to determine the causes of the observed changes. They recognized that "Time would be wasted for purposes of navigation upon such a survey, but when it comes to those of improvement nothing less than a physical survey will answer. A few thousand dollars thus expended, by determining the minute actions of the tides and currents and their causes, may save hundreds of thousands in expensive tentative works of improvement. These observations could hardly fail to show where natural actions were to be aided or restrained, and when art might profitably come to their aid or must be used to control, modify, or change them."(137)

The new surveys found that changes to the harbor were significant. Between the Hudson and East Rivers alone, 1,220 acres of land had been made "upon which, formerly, the tide rose more than four and a half feet, removing thus a tidal space of nearly nine millions of cubic yards from this part of the harbor. To this encroachment is to be added the space occupied by piers and slips, amounting to 519 acres, since the tidal currents are so checked between the piers as to lose nearly their whole scouring action. The piers alone displace 312,000 cubic yards." Overall, these changes were beneficial, but in many specific instances harm had been done to local channels and commercial areas. The nature of the problem as described by the council was:

"It is not sufficient to know the changes and their extent. The causes which have produced them must be ascertained. In this way alone can they be regulated and controlled. It by no means follows that, because a partial change in a particular direction is favorable, that if this be continued indefinitely it will still be advantageous. For example: a diminution in the water-span of a harbor, by increasing the velocity of the current, may deepen the harbor, and thus a first encroachment may appear to be advantageous. Continue this, and the velocity of the current becomes excessive; navigation is impeded by it; the bed of the harbor is torn up in one place to be deposited in another; the capacity of the harbor is contracted injuriously. Again: the contraction of the entrance to the harbor may act, at first, favorably by increasing the rate of flow of water over the bar and thus increasing its channels; but this contraction, if continued, may so alter the direction of the currents as to destroy the first favorable effect, and may even be carried so far as to obliterate, by its encroachments, some of the principal channels."(138)

The advisory council reinforced its view with: "These changes, which the map fully shows, enforce all that we have heretofore said in regard to the danger of encroachments in this part of New York city front. We cannot too often repeat, that whatever changes the direction and velocity of the current, must change the regimen of the harbor for good or evil."(139) The council went on to suggest that New York Harbor would have been better off "had the shore-line been regulated years ago according to a systematic plan. The advisory council has not been opposed to such additions to the land as were required for present or future accommodation by wharves and docks; on the contrary, they have everywhere endeavored to provide such, where encroachments had not already been carried to the verge of imprudence, or beyond it, or had not been guided by erroneous principles, tending to produce injury to many while seeking individual benefit."(140)

This report, while brandishing a stick for private property owners, also held out a carrot. Recognizing that the driving force behind the encroachments on New York Harbor was the high value of real estate, the council acted to blunt potential charges that they were against private property rights by advocating the use of an additional 1,840 acres for dock space and the filling in of 2,840 acres of tidelands amounting to 34,000,000 cubic yards of harbor volume. But, this was to be "done according to systematic plan, which will avoid the dangers we have observed or have been able to foresee, and which will, as far as they have effect, favor those changes for the better which are now going on and avoid injurious ones."(141)

The rhetoric in this report was carried one step farther than in the Portland report. Contained within the New York Harbor report is the germ of the concept of finite resources and the need to conserve economic resources. The council recognized that:

"New York harbor, like all other tidal harbors, must principally depend on the ebb and flood to keep its approaches and channels in navigable condition. For this reason it is necessary to preserve jealously, the water area of the harbor, so as to permit the greatest possible quantity of tide-water to enter it and by its efflux to scour the channel and bar."(142)

As a result of the report of the advisors, the legislature of the State of New York requested that the Coast Survey "complete the physical survey of the harbor, so that the results might not only be adapted to purposes of navigation but to the study of the changes in progress." (143) Superintendent Bache acted on this request and assigned Assistant Henry Mitchell, the brother of the famous astronomer Maria Mitchell, to the physical survey of New York Harbor. Mitchell had just finished a major study of the tides and currents of Nantucket and Vineyard Sounds and had worked part of the past year conducting tidal observations in support of hydrographic surveys in New York Harbor. He differentiated between studying tides and currents for purposes of navigation and for studies of harbor improvements and realized that:

"The study of tides and currents must be regarded in a two-fold relation: first, as affording the means of constructing prediction tables for immediate use in navigation; second, as an inquiry into a class of agencies whose ceaseless activities are gradually altering the configuration of our harbors and seacoasts -- here cutting away headlands, there stretching out hooks, destroying at one point and building at another. We are called upon not only to exhibit the daily and hourly conditions of these great elements, but to ascertain their offices, their modes of operation, and their effects...."(144)

Working from shore stations and the Coast Survey Schooner MADISON in the Hell Gate area in 1857, Mitchell established Saxton self-registering tide gauges and two manually observed box gauges. The box gauges were observed every 15 minutes, night and day, during the course of the survey. Showing an increased level of sophistication over earlier tidal surveys, he connected the permanent stations "by lines of levels, so that we are able to refer all the observed heights to a common zero and ascertain the disturbance of sea level at each stage .... The changes in the mean water level, caused by long continued gales of wind, are among the most striking characteristics of this region, and are susceptible of accurate classification by proper groupings of the observed heights."

For current studies, the MADISON was used to occupy long-term stations and the ship's boats employed in locations where a single day's work would suffice. Observations were made in the axis of the stream; and, by judicious use of the boats, as many points as possible were occupied simultaneously. The primary instrument for observing currents was the "ordinary log," a weighted pole with a graduated line used to measure the velocity of the current.(145) Velocities and directions of currents were recorded at half hour intervals while on station, as well as the exact time of slack water. Most of the major stations were occupied with an unbroken series of observations for 7 to 9 days.

Within the confines of New York Harbor, it would seem that the work would have little physical danger associated with it. However, Mitchell considered the difficulties in the Hell's Gate area to be "almost insurmountable" particularly in observing maximum flood currents off Hallet's Point. At this locality "the flood streams are gathered together into a single torrent, in which no boat can lie at anchor. We repeatedly tried ... to secure a boat in this place during the flood current, and in each case it was either run over by drifting vessels or by the stream itself. Abandoning this plan at last, as a vain risk of life ..." Mitchell then attempted using "free floats and noting the time of their passage across certain ranges. Many experiments of this kind were made with varying results, but since each float chose a distinct path we could not feel authorized to take a mean of the velocities given.... Our experience has always shown that all methods of observing current other than that by the use of the common log and line, from fixed stations, are subject to peculiar objections...." In spite of this, Mitchell succeeded in examining "the whirls and counter currents in the vicinity of Hell Gate...." and discovered that, "Many of the more remarkable of these are confined to fixed limits, and regularly recur with each ebb or flood current..."(146)

While Mitchell was conducting surveys of the Hell Gate area, a Coast Survey crew under Lieutenant W.G. Temple of the CORWIN was conducting hydrographic surveys in the area. Temple devised a novel method of determining least depths on many of the rocks by "sweeping." He used "one of the large sounding boats" which he "laid broadside to the current, nearly at slack water, having a loaded pole, twenty-four feet long, suspended by lead lines from the bow and stern. The boat was then allowed to drift slowly over the rocks, the pole being always kept so as to touch the bottom. At the instant of finding the shoalest water, the position of the boat was carefully determined, and the operation was repeated until the whole vicinity had been thoroughly swept."(147) This method was a forerunner of the wire-drag and wire-sweep methods which reached their full development by the Coast and Geodetic Survey in the early Twentieth Century.

In 1858 Mitchell expanded his studies into all of New York Harbor. Superintendent Bache instructed Mitchell to not only study the surface currents during 1858, but also to study "the motions of the waters below." The goal of studying the sub-surface regime was to better define the factors affecting sedimentation and erosion in a tidal basin. Assistant Mitchell invented an "ingenious apparatus" to observe the sub-surface currents. This device consisted "of two large copper globes, as floats, connected by a slender cord, one weighted so as to float when immersed to the depth of four feet, and the other so as to sink to different depths in the currents which it may be desired to investigate. The motion of the apparatus will depend, of course, upon the difference of movement at four feet, the nearly superficial current, and below, so that, obtaining by the ordinary log the movement at the surface, that below becomes known by observing the motion of the apparatus itself. It has been tried also by balls with small stems or tubes, the balls being weighted so as to float at the desired depth."(148)

By means of his floating copper globes, Henry Mitchell "ascertained that, instead of uniform gradation of velocities from surface to bottom, there often occurs in deep channels a counter drift, or even distinct streams, at different depths. These singular movements were ascertained to belong to certain localities only in New York harbor, where they assume sometimes the form of immense rotatory movements in vertical planes. At some of our stations phenomena of this character never fail to repeat themselves daily, on the recurrence of certain tidal phases, while at others the wind enters in as an element and varies the conditions. At certain stations we found that when the surface current is opposed by strong winds the axis of the stream sinks, and the water pours on below the retarded stratum as beneath a sluice. I mention these points to show with what variety this single inquiry abounds, and to suggest that many new conclusions are likely to follow your [Bache's] study of the data we have collected. From the most hasty consideration of our results it may be seen that, without a knowledge of these sub-currents, structures, however simple, placed in New York harbor, may be productive of the most disastrous consequences, by controlling in a degree the future movements of the shoals, or by causing new deposits...."(149)

Mitchell's discoveries were totally unexpected; and, if not unprecedented, certainly were among the earliest of studies to determine the true nature of the movement of water masses in estuarine environments. Superintendent Bache remarked, " ... Among the unlooked for developments of the season is the discovery of sub-currents, differing widely both in their epochs and direction from the surface drifts.... The leading phenomena seem to be presented at the return of certain tidal epochs, yet at some localities in the harbor it was observed that strong winds altered the conditions in a remarkable manner...."(150)

In Bache's study of Mitchell's data, he came to many conclusions including, "Since the tide wave is propagated most rapidly in deep water, it follows that the fall of the tide takes place earlier in the channel than upon the shore; hence the water tends to flow laterally from the shore. With the flood streams the reverse must be true, and the tide wave rising earlier in the channel a flow of water takes place towards the shore. In consequence of these distinctive characteristics the ebb and flood assume an unequal share in the moulding of sandy coasts. The ebb current, with its concentration of forces, is a far more powerful agent than the flood; its scouring capacity along its normal course must be more considerable, and it creates more extensive draught currents...."(151)

In spite of the studies conducted by Mitchell and the exhortations of Bache and the advisory council, development and mindless practices continued to dominate the use of New York Harbor. In 1859, George W. Blunt, brother of Assistant Edmund Blunt and a member of the Commission on Harbor Encroachments of New York Harbor, notified Bache that a vessel had grounded on Battery Shoal in an area which the most recent surveys had shown as being safe. After a hydrographic inspection of the area, Bache related the new shoal to the filling of tidelands off the Battery and wrote to the President of the New York Chamber of Commerce:

"The filling up between pier No. 1 and the Castle may readily be avoided by dredging, and no doubt the entire completion of the Battery work would retard the now rapid increase of the shoal. The shoal must, however, in a general way, be related to the new shore line, as the old was to the former shore, and thus the shoal while changed in form must be pushed out to a distance, not equal, but corresponding to the addition to the shore-line of the Battery."(152)

The Commissioners on Harbor Encroachments of New York further documented abuses to the harbor in an 1859 report. Unauthorized filling of wetlands was commonplace as was the extension of construction beyond the lines allowed by law. These were not only the acts of private citizens but also were done under the authority of the city government.

Another source of damage to the harbor was sewage. In the mid-Nineteenth Century there were few concerns with public health or damage to the environment. However, there was great concern with the commercial ramifications of damage to areas such as New York Harbor. The report documents that, "It has been ascertained that the slips in the harbor have been filled up nearly eighteen inches each year, by material discharged from the sewers, of which only four out of one hundred and ten discharge at the outer end of the piers, the remainder discharge into the still waters of the slips or basins, where there is no current to carry off the deposits."

Paralleling the human sewage effluent was the dumping of "dirt swept from the streets of the city [which] is deposited by order of the city inspector.... The dirt is continually being dropped into the waters of the harbor and filling up the slips, from the practice of heaping it up on the piers and bulkheads. During last month the pier at the foot of Twenty-third street, East river, gave way from the accumulation of dirt upon it, and 3,000 cart loads were thus thrown into the river." Considering that much of the "dirt" of New York City streets was horse manure, it takes little imagination to visualize what a cesspool New York Harbor must have been.

To remedy the evils affecting the capacity of the harbor, the Commissioners requested that the legislature of New York enact stiffer penalties for encroachments and the power to remove the encroachments at the cost of the offending parties. Concerning the sewage and dirt, "All new sewers should be carried to the outer ends of the piers ... and, where practicable, the termination of those now built should be changed so as to empty in like manner with the new ones.... No dumping should be permitted upon or near the piers or bulkheads, under a penalty; and the city inspectors should be required to have scows or other vessels provided and ready to receive the dirt from the carts, there being no good reason why dirt should have a preference over all other articles in the use of our piers and bulkheads."(153)

Change and encroachments continued. Henry Mitchell conducted major studies of New York Harbor again in 1866-67, 1872-1873, 1876, 1880, and 1887. Following the initial survey of the harbor, a flurry of similar studies were undertaken at Boston Harbor, Mobile Harbor, and the site of a proposed canal between Cape Cod Bay and Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts. As at Charleston Harbor earlier, sub-bottom borings were also made at many of these localities to determine the composition and engineering properties of the near-surface sediments. The record boring was attained at Mobile where a 16-foot core was obtained.(154)

These physical and geological surveys were done at the expense of local authorities demonstrating Bache's ability to sell programs and acquire funding from diverse sources. The object of these surveys was generally the preservation of harbors "by preventing dangerous encroachments on the water in the rapid progress of buildings and of improvements on land, by ascertaining the changes caused in the water space by the changes in the land, and the causes of these changes." Superintendent Bache justified using local funding because "more elaborate observations of tides and currents, of hydrographic, and sometimes of topographical details, are needed than are demanded for purposes of navigation, and hence beyond the usual requirements of the Coast Survey...."(155)


Prior to 1851 the lighthouse service had been managed by the Fifth Auditor of the United States, Stephen Pleasanton. Mr. Pleasanton, as a good auditor should, took pride in running a lighthouse establishment that was much more frugal than comparable European institutions. He even turned money back to the Treasury in some years. But as an auditor, he had little feel for the needs of the mariner concerning placement and ranges of lights. He also had little enthusiasm for investing in new technologies such as Fresnel lenses to increase the visibility of the lights under his charge. Because of these weaknesses, an increasingly vocal maritime community, led by the chart-selling and Coast Survey affiliated Blunt brothers, demanded reform and improvement in the Lighthouse Service.

In response to these demands, Congress passed the Lighthouse Act of March 3, 1851, which established a temporary commission to study the lighthouse establishment and make recommendations for its improvement. This board was composed of three naval officers, Commodore William B. Schubrick, Commander Samuel F. Dupont, and Lieutenant Thornton A. Jenkins; two army officers, Brevet Brigadier General Joseph G. Totten and Lieutenant Colonel James Kearney; and Superintendent Bache of the Coast Survey. Giving an added impetus to their study was the loss of the newly constructed Minot's Ledge Lighthouse(156) at the entrance to Boston Harbor on April 17, 1851. This lighthouse had just been finished and come into use the year before.

Sections 2 and 3 of the Act of March 3, 1851, were particularly pertinent to the Coast Survey as it was directed to make preliminary surveys on the seaboard "to determine the site of a proposed light-house, or light-boat, beacon, or buoy, or to ascertain more fully what the public exigency demands" regarding aids to navigation and the needs of commerce. The Corps of Topographical Engineers was directed to perform like service on the Great Lakes. In fact, the Coast Survey had been heavily involved with this particular aspect of placing aids to navigation for years as an adjunct to the work of surveying. However, this new law formalized the relationship between the Survey and the Lighthouse Establishment and permitted the vigorous pursuit of this aspect of the work.

In 1851 the Coast Survey made 43 separate investigations under the auspices of the lighthouse commission. Most of this work was accomplished by the naval assistants attached to the Survey. As time went on, this element of the work diminished. In 1857 only two investigations were made and for the remainder of the period before the Civil War only sporadic studies were made. These investigations involved recommending locations, appropriate technology, and characteristics of fixed and floating aids to navigation. Occasionally Coast Surveyors would design and oversee the construction of various aids as well as supervise the placement of floating and prefabricated structures.

The temporary lighthouse commission thoroughly investigated the administration of the Lighthouse Establishment and made many sweeping recommendations. Chief among these was the establishment of a permanent board for managing the Nation's aids to navigation. Congress acted on this suggestion and on October 9, 1852 created a nine-member Lighthouse Board headed by the Secretary of the Treasury as the ex-officio president, Commodore Schubrick as chairman, the other five members of the original commission, Joseph Henry of the Smithsonian Institution, and Captain E. L. F. Hardcastle, Corps of Engineers, as the engineering secretary.

Samples of the 1851 correspondence with the commanders of the hydrographic parties give an idea of the scope of Coast Survey influence on the placement and nature of aids to navigation in United States coastal waters.

Lieutenant Commanding Maxwell Woodhull recommended a larger light vessel at Pollock Rip off the Massachusetts coast because "The boat ... is too small for the purpose; it is a general complaint that during a blow the light cannot be hoisted sufficiently above the deck to be a certain guide, and in some instances could not be lighted, owing to the motion of the vessel throwing the oil from the lamps. I think a light-boat should be of sufficient capacity to carry the light at all times at the usual elevation, or it becomes of little or no service...."(157)

Because of the great amount of shipping frequenting the area near the extremity of Nantucket Shoals, Lieutenant Commanding C. H. McBlair recommended, "Placing a floating beacon, with a fog bell attached, on Davis' new South shoal...." McBlair described the area as having "as little as eight feet water upon it--is swept by very strong tides, and, during the summer months, almost constantly hidden by fogs." Earlier plans for this dangerous shoal included building "a beacon upon it, but the great difficulties of the undertaking, arising from the character of the climate and the distance of the nearest port, seem to be regarded as insuperable."(158)

Lieutenant Commanding John Maffitt recommended that "Charleston light should be a "fixed light," with improved reflectors. No light should revolve -- that is , one of a range for entering a narrow channel, as the loss of it, even for a few seconds, might be attended with danger." To emphasize this point, he added, "I have frequently experienced the truth of this." In an era of living with nature as opposed to constantly attempting to modify its effects, Maffitt also recommended that the light be mounted on a railway, "as the bar is materially influenced by northeast storms, and the range consequently changing to southward."(159)

In calling for more and better lights on the Florida reef, Lieutenant Commanding John Rodgers got to the heart of the matter in recognizing " that the Florida channel is the natural outlet of the Mississippi; that the lights along the Florida reef are those in which the western planters of the United States are particularly interested; and that in lessening the danger of getting their produce to market, its price to them will be enhanced...." To compensate for the "curved shape of the channel, requiring continual change of course; the strength and irregularity of the current; the coral reefs which fringe either shore, and the lowness of the land" which "added to the vast amount of passing commerce, and number and value of the wrecks," Rodgers suggested four more lighthouses with first-class refracting lights at strategic locations.

Paradoxically, Rodgers argued that with the increased safety afforded by the lights, commercial vessels would " keep in our own waters in passing through the Florida channel. The wrecks inevitable to extensive commerce will pay salvage to our citizens, rather than to foreigners; and foreign goods thus introduced, pay duties to our government." As matters stood, wreckers in the Bahamas salvaged approximately twice the $1,200,000 which Key West wreckers annually earned.(160)

During the next few years, the Coast Survey made its most significant contributions in the field of aids to navigation on the West Coast and on the Florida Reefs. The colonial administrations of Spain, Mexico, Great Britain, and Russia had neglected the establishment of aids to navigation on the West Coast; thus the locations of all early lighthouses from San Diego to Cape Flattery were chosen by Coast Survey field parties. This process began in 1851 when Assistant A. M. Harrison recommended the Point Loma (San Diego,) Point Pinos (Monterey,) and Cape Disappointment (Columbia river entrance) sites for lighthouses while Assistant R. D. Cutts recommended sites for the major lighthouses marking the entrance to San Francisco Bay. By late 1852 construction had begun at Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay, and within 6 years 16 lighthouses had been built.

In 1852 the profusion of sea-birds on the Farallon Islands led to an armed confrontation between the lighthouse construction crew and a group of egg-pickers who were gathering eggs to sell in San Francisco. A Coast Survey vessel with a heavily armed crew was sent to assure that the construction went on unmolested.(161) The Lighthouse Inspector for the West Coast during this period was Major Hartman Bache, Topographical Engineers, a cousin of Alexander Dallas Bache.(162)

In 1852 Lieutenant James Totten, U.S.A., and Assistant in the Coast Survey, placed a screw-pile signal on American shoals, about 15 miles to the east of Key West. This area was considered to be the most dangerous area on the Florida reef. The signal was built for survey work but placed in the hope that it would also serve "to warn vessels of their proximity to danger...." The initial success of this signal in serving the maritime community led Totten to surmise, "What light-houses are at night to the mariner, these signals will prove to him by day, on a small scale; they stand amidst the dangers of the reef, and vessels passing along this coast would generally do well to give them a wide berth."(163) Over the next two years, the Coast Survey built more signals on the Florida reef for continuing the triangulation of the Florida Keys. Finally, in 1855 Lieutenant Totten, acting under the direction of the Lighthouse Board, replaced 14 wooden triangulation signals with permanent wrought and cast iron beacons. These beacons were all 36-feet high, designated with a letter indicator, and painted various combinations of red, black, and white. With such a system, the mariner was able to determine his location and avoid dangers by noting the paint pattern and letter designator. Bache referred to the marking of the Florida reef as "one of the most useful results of the Coast Survey."(164)

One of the more interesting duties that the Coast Survey became involved with in regard to the Lighthouse Board was the placing of a large bell-buoy off Cape Hatteras. (165) This buoy was a large iron buoy (among the first iron buoys in U.S. waters) that was especially designed and constructed for duty off Hatteras. Lieutenant Commanding T. A. M. Craven was intimately associated with this buoy and monitored its construction and testing. The buoy weighed 15 tons while its frame and bell added another 1 and ½ tons. To this weight, Craven added 15 tons of ballast such that its draft increased from 2 feet to 3 and ½ feet. He tested its water-tight integrity by filling the inside with water prior to launching. The stability of the buoy was tested by causing it to roll over by attaching ropes from the masthead to heave the buoy down. All of these tests were performed at Philadelphia. Following successful testing, Craven towed the buoy from Philadelphia down Delaware Bay and then to Cape Hatteras. At Hatteras he moored it with another 16 tons of ground tackle. With the exception of manned lightships, this was probably the single largest floating aid to navigation ever built in the United States up to that time.


1. Letter from Bache to John Farley, January 9, 1850. Roll 44, Bache Correspondence, Coast and Geodetic Survey Records, National Archives. As quoted in: Slotten, H. R. 1994. Patronage, Practice, and the Culture of American Science Alexander Dallas Bache and the U.S. Coast Survey. p. 147. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, U.K.

2. Letter from Frank Hudson to Julius Hilgard, March 17, 1850. Hilgard Papers, Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley. In: Slotten, H. R. 1994. Patronage, Practice, and the Culture of American Science Alexander Dallas Bache and the U.S. Coast Survey. p. 147. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, U.K.

3. For a table of comparative statistics from which the following discussion of production statistics can be derived see: Bache, A. D. 1862. Report of the Superintendent of the Coast Survey ... 1861. Appendix No. 5, Statistics of field and office-work.... p. 87-89.

4. Although part of this hydrographic production increase was attributable to the use of steamboats, much of this work was accomplished in harbors and inshore areas where the larger steam vessels would be ineffective.

5. Bache, A. D. 1852. Report of the Superintendent ... 1851. Senate Executive Document 3, 32nd Congress, 1st Session. Appendix No. 12. List of geographical positions determined by the United States Coast Survey. p. 165. This list was updated and reprinted every two years through 1859. The introduction and explanation associated with each list have minor but sometimes substantive differences.

6. Gerdes, F. H. 1853. Extracts for the Report of F. H. Gerdes, to the Superintendent, of a reconnaissance from the Suwanee river, Florida, to the mouths of the Mississippi, Louisiana. In: Bache, A. D. 1853. Report of the Superintendent ... 1852. Appendix No. 12, p. 92.

7. Major Prince graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1831. He served two tours on the Coast Survey, 1844-1846, and 1850-1855. During the Civil War, he was a Brigadier General, U.S. Volunteers, and was brevetted Brigadier General in the regular Army for gallant and meritorious services in the field. After being mustered out of volunteer service in 1866, he reverted to the rank of Major. He retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1879.

8. Often the cost of clearing lines-of-sight was the major cost associated with triangulation work and it would be discussed in both the reports of the individuals conducting reconnaissance and of those conducting the triangulation work. This statement could have two implications: 1) there was less brush and easier work to clear the needed lines-of-sight; or 2) labor was cheap in this area.

9. Bache, A. D. 1854. Report of the Superintendent ... 1853. p. 55

10. Bache, A. D. 1860. Report of the Superintendent ... 1859. p. 62-63.

11. Bache, A. D. 1856. Report of the Superintendent ... 1856. p. 28.

12. Letter from Bache to Prince, February 28, 1855. In: Bache, A. D. 1856. Report of the Superintendent ... 1855. Appendix No. 68, p. 402.

13. Bache, A. D. 1856. Report of the Superintendent ... 1855. p.34.

14. Captain James H. Simpson graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1832. He served with the Coast Survey from late 1856 to early 1858. He was brevetted Brigadier General in the regular Army for faithful and meritorious service during the Civil War. He rose to the rank of Colonel, Corps of Engineers, and retired in 1880.

15. Bache, A. D. 1858. Report of the Superintendent ...1857. p. 79.

16. Captain Martin Luther Smith graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1842. He served continuously on Coast Survey duty from 1857 until the outbreak of the Civil War. He served as Assistant-in-Charge of the Office and in Florida on the "air-line" triangulation. He also served as chief engineer for the construction of the Fernandina and Cedar Key Railroad during this period. He resigned his commission on April 1, 1861, and joined the Confederate States Army. He rose to the rank of Major General and served at Vicksburg and later as General Lee's Chief Engineer of the Army of Northern Virginia.

17. Bache, A. D. 1860. Report of the Superintendent ... 1859. p. 73.

18. Even working in Maine during the pleasant summers was not without its hazards. The Report of the Superintendent for 1857 reported, "Mr. Humphries, the aid of the party, was unfortunately drowned in the Kennebec river on the 20th of August, by the upsetting of a boat in which he was returning from Bath, where he had been sent on duty...." ( p. 43.) This occurred while Humphries was engaged in secondary triangulation work along Kennebec River.

19. Captain Thomas Jefferson Cram graduated No. 4 in the West Point class of 1826. He spent over 10 years on the Coast Survey between 1847 and 1861 broken by three years service as the Chief Topographical Engineer in the Department of the Pacific. Following the Civil War he was brevetted Major General for "faithful and meritorious services." He retired from the Army in 1869 as Colonel in the Corps of Engineers.

20. Bache, A. D. 1860. Report of the Superintendent ... 1859. p. 35.

21. Bache, A. D. 1856. Report of the Superintendent ... 1855. p. 35.

22. Although masonry structures were used on "The Great Trigonometrical Survey of India," this marked possibly the only occurrence of use of a masonry structure versus wood tripod and scaffolding in the Coast Survey.

23. The six other base lines measured by Bache were Kent Island, Maryland, in 1845 with the Hassler measuring apparatus; Dauphine Island, Alabama, in 1847; Bodie's Island, North Carolina, in 1848; Edisto Island, South Carolina, in 1850; Key Biscayne, Florida, in 1855; and Cape Sable, Florida, in 1855. The last five base lines were measured with the Wurdemann-Bache apparatus. Perhaps reflecting greater skill in manipulating the apparatus, Bache had three days' work at Epping Plain in which he measured over 1 mile. Previous to that he had experienced only 1 day of base line work in which he had accomplished more than one mile of measurement.

24. Inquiries have been made to the archivists of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Harvard University, and Harvard Observatory for copies of these photographs. None had seen or knew the location of these first photographs of Coast Survey field operations.

25. Bache, A. D. 1858. Notes on the measurement of a base for the primary triangulation of the eastern section of the coast of the United States, on Epping Plains, Maine. In: Bache, A. D. 1858. Report of the Superintendent ... 1857. Appendix No. 26, p. 304-305. The photographs were taken by Mr. Black of the Boston firm of Whipple and Black and were turned over to the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

26. Boutelle, C. O. 1859. In: Bache, A. D. 1860. Report of the Superintendent ... 1859. p. 37.

27. Bache, A. D. 1860. Report of the Superintendent ... 1859. p. 26.

28. The triangulation schemes running north from Providence and east from Fire Island junctioned at Narragansett Bay. In 1844 Bache designated second order triangulation accomplished by Edmund Blunt from Fire Island to Narragansett Bay sufficiently accurate to take the place of a first order triangulation along that stretch of coast. Blunt measured the Providence base line that same year with the Hassler apparatus, and Bache commenced first order work proceeding to the north from the vicinity of Buzzard's Bay, Massachusetts.

29. The National Geodetic Survey of NOAA reports that the elevation of Mount Washington is 6,285.7 feet above sea level as determined by reciprocal zenith distances. The United States Geological Survey reports that the elevation of Mount Washington is 6,288.176 feet above sea level as determined by first order levels run in 1925. Given that Captain Cram's work was a pioneering effort and resulted in the development of leveling techniques that are still followed in the late Twentieth Century, the accuracy of his results was quite good.

30. Bache, A. D. 1855. Report of the Superintendent ... 1854. p. 10, 40.

31. Captain William R. Palmer of the Corps of Topographical Engineers spent the years 1852-1861 on the Coast Survey. He spent many years in the field and then was the Assistant-in-Charge-of-the-Office just prior to the Civil War. Palmer was a boyhood friend of Bache's and had been his room-mate at West Point while Bache was an instructor there. Oddly, he was not a graduate of West Point but instead had procured a position at the West Point Foundry until 1838 when he was given a commission in the Corps of Topographical Engineers. In 1862 he was a Lieutenant Colonel on the staff of Brigadier General Andrew Atkins Humphreys, Chief Topographer of the Army of the Potomac, when he contracted a disease and died in the midst of McClellan's Peninsula Campaign.

32. Bache, A. D. 1856. Report of the Superintendent ... 1855. p. 48-49.

33. Bache, A. D. 1854. Report of the Superintendent ... 1853. p. 41-42.

34. Bache, A. D. 1856. Report of the Superintendent ... 1855. p. 49.

35. Bache, A. D. 1856. Report of the Superintendent ... 1855. p. 57.

36. This seems like an exaggerated value but could have referred to frozen spray or snow drifts accumulating at the dune line near present day Virginia Beach. However, the Nantucket astronomer Maria Mitchell recorded in her diary January 22, 1857: "Hard winters are becoming the order of things. Winter before last was hard, last winter was harder, and this surpasses all winters known before." In the month of January, the thermometer rarely rose above freezing at Nantucket and was often below zero. She mentioned on January 29 that it was worthwhile to take a sleigh ride to "Sconset to see the masses of snow on the road.... we drove through a narrow path, cut in deep snow-banks far above our heads...." In: (Kendall, P.M. 1896. Maria Mitchell Life, Letters, and Journals. p. 48-55. Lee and Shepard Publishers, Boston.)

37. Bache, A. D. 1858. Report of the Superintendent ... 1857. p. 60.

38. Bache, A. D. 1859. Report of the Superintendent ... 1858. p. 42. Reference to J. J. S. Hassler breaking his arm is on p. 64.

39. One more Hassler was to work with the Coast Survey. F.R. Hassler, a grand-son of Superintendent Hassler, was carried on the roles in 1860 as an Aid and received a little over $100 in pay that year. He was not mentioned in subsequent Superintendent's reports. After more than half of a century, the Hassler family connection with the Coast Survey was no more.

After 14 years with the Coast Survey, Superintendent Bache apparently had made his peace with the ghost of Ferdinand Hassler. This simple, dignified eulogy to the younger Hassler also carried Bache's acknowledgment of his and the Coast Survey's indebtedness to Ferdinand Hassler and the extent of his services in founding and nurturing the Coast Survey.

40. Bache, A. D. 1861. Report of the Superintendent ... 1860. p. 52-53.

41. Bache, A. D. 1861. Report of the Superintendent ... 1860. p. 56.

42. Bache, A. D. 1856. Report of the Superintendent ... 1855. p. 63.

43. Bache, A. D. 1861. Report of the Superintendent ... 1860. Quote from report of Sub-Assistant Charles Ferguson. p. 65.

44. Bache, A. D. 1856. Report of the Superintendent ... 1855. Extract from report of S. A. Wainwright, Aug. 23, 1855. Appendix No. 25, p. 173.

45. Bache, A. D. 1856. Report of the Superintendent ... 1855. Extract from report of John Rockwell, Sept. 17, 1855. Appendix No. 25, p. 175.

46. Letter from F. W. Dorr, U. S. C. S., to A. D. Bache dated June 27, 1857. In: Bache, A. D. 1858. Report of the Superintendent ... 1857. Appendix No. 42, Report to the Commissioner of the General Land Office, showing the progress made in the survey and marking of the Florida Keys, in quarter sections, during the present season. p. 382-390.

47. Letter from C. T. Iardella, Sub-Assistant U.S. Coast Survey, to A. D. Bache dated June 10, 1857. In: Bache, A. D. 1858. Report of the Superintendent ... 1857. Appendix No. 42, Report to the Commissioner of the General Land Office .... p. 387.

48. Bache, A. D. 1860. Report of the Superintendent ... 1859. p. 76.

49. Bache, A. D. 1859. Report of the Superintendent ... 1858. p. 94.

50. Letter from C. T. Iardella to A.D. Bache, February 16, 1858. RG23, MF642, Bache Correspondence, Roll 185, National Archives.

51. Bache, A. D. 1861. Report of the Superintendent ... 1860. p. 78.

52. Bache, A. D. 1858. Report of the Superintendent ... 1857. p. 98.

53. This was one of three instances of Bache naming a vessel for a field assistant. Ferdinand Gerdes did not name the vessel and had in fact requested that it be named the "HASSLER" when first receiving the vessel. Gerdes wrote Bache March 20, 1848: "To avoid confusion, Mr. Patterson wishes my schooner's name to be changed -- would you think it wrong to name her the "HASSLER" -- you know how I cherish the memory of the old gentleman and would rejoice to have a vessel under my charge named after him...." Bache wrote back on March 28, 1848: "... I have to request that hereafter designate the schooner received from the Navy department as the GERDES, in compliment to the Assistant, who was the pioneer of the Coast Survey in the Gulf of Mexico." The other Coast Survey vessels named for assistants were the schooner WISE, named for Assistant George D. Wise, and the sloop TOM GEDNEY, named for Commander Thomas Gedney, U. S. N, Assistant U.S. Coast Survey.

54. Bache, A. D. 1859. Report of the Superintendent ... 1858. p. 193-204.

55. Bache, A. D. 1859. Report of the Superintendent ... 1858. p. 104-105.

56. Bache, A. D. 1859. Report of the Superintendent ... 1858. p. 100.

57. Bache, A. D. 1860. Report of the Superintendent ... 1859. p. 87-88.

58. Bache, A. D. 1859. Report of the Superintendent ... 1858. p. 100.

59. Bache, A. D. 1852. Report of the Superintendent ... 1851. p. 79.

60. Bache, A. D. 1854. Report of the Superintendent ... 1853. p. 73.

61. Bache, A. D. 1854. Report of the Superintendent ... 1853. p. 73.

62. Bache, A. D. 1856. Report of the Superintendent ... 1855. p. 38.

63. The term "curves" refers to contours which generally were determined at 20-foot intervals.

64. Whiting, H. L. 1856. In: Bache, A. D. 1856. Report of the Superintendent ... 1856. p. 42.

65. Bache, A. D. 1853. Report of the Superintendent ... 1852. p. 28.

66. Bache, A. D. 1854. Report of the Superintendent ... 1853. p. 43.

67. Bache, A. D. 1860. Report of the Superintendent ... 1859. p. 59.

68. Bache, A. D. 1853. Report of the Superintendent ... 1852. p. 32.

69. Whiting, H. L. 1851. On the survey of Beaufort, North Carolina. In: Bache, A. D. 1852. Report of the Superintendent ... 1851. Appendix No. 28.

70. Longfellow, A. W. 1857. In: Bache, A. D. 1858. Report of the Superintendent ... 1857. p.73.

71. Evans, A. W. 1858. Report made by Lieutenant A. W. Evans, U. S. A., Assistant Coast Survey, on a topographical reconnaissance of a part of Sapelo island, Georgia, for the selection of a site for a primary base line. In: Bache, A. D. 1858. Report of the Superintendent ... 1857. Appendix No. 39. p. 375.

72. Adams, I. H. 1851. In: Bache, A. D. 1852. Report of the Superintendent ... 1851. p. 71.

73. Iardella, C. T. 1859. In: Bache, A. D. 1860. Report of the Superintendent ... 1859. p. 77.

74. Finney, N. S. 1857. In: Bache, A. D. 1858. Report of the Superintendent ... 1857. p. 91.

75. Finney, N. S. 1860. In: Bache, A. D. 1861. Report of the Superintendent ... 1860. p. 79-80.

76. Wise, G. D. 1860. In: Bache, A. D. 1861. Report of the Superintendent ... 1860. p. 80-81.

77. Greenwell, W. E. 1851. In: Bache, A. D. 1852. Report of the Superintendent ... 1851. p. 76-77.

78. Bache, R. M. 1856. In: Bache, A. D. 1856. Report of the Superintendent ... 1856. p. 75.

79. Gerdes, F. 1859. In: Bache, A. D. 1860. Report of the Superintendent ... 1859. p. 90-91.

80. Gerdes, F. 1853. In: Bache, A. D. 1854. Report of the Superintendent ... 1853. Appendix No. 21, p. *54.

81. Oltmanns, J. G. 1859. In: Bache, A. D. 1860. Report of the Superintendent ... 1859. p. 91.

82. Gilbert, S. A. 1856. In: Bache, A. D. 1856. Report of the Superintendent ... 1856. p. 78.

83. Gilbert, W. S. 1860. Extracts from the report of Sub-Assistant W. S. Gilbert relative to the topographical features of the shores of San Antonio and Aransas bays, Texas. In: Bache, A. D. 1861. Report of the Superintendent ... 1860. Appendix No. 33, p. 355.

84. Greenwell, W. E. 1855. In: Bache, A. D. 1855. Report of the Superintendent ... 1854. Appendix No. 21, p. 30*.

85. Bache, A. D. 1852. Report of the Superintendent ... 1851. p.75.

86. This was Commodore Daniel Tod Patterson, the father of Carlile Pollock Patterson, 4th Superintendent of the Coast Survey, and Elizabeth Patterson Bache, wife of George Mifflin Bache.

87. Gerdes, F. H. 1854. In: Bache, A. D. 1854. Report of the Superintendent ... 1853. Appendix No. 19, p. *51-*52.

88. Bache, A. D. 1853. Report of the Superintendent ... 1852. p. 43.

89. Whiting, H. L. 1853. In: Bache, A. D. 1854. Report of the Superintendent ... 1853. p. 30-32.

90. Bache, A. D. 1853. Report of the Superintendent ... 1852. p. 25.

91. Bache, A. D. 1854. Report of the Superintendent ... 1853. p. 38.

92. Gerdes, F. H. 1856. In: Bache, A. D. 1856. Report of the Superintendent ... 1855. Appendix No. 21, p. 163.

93. Longfellow, A. W. 1856. In: Bache, A. D. 1856. Report of the Superintendent ... 1856. p. 32.

94. Bache, A. D. 1861. Report of the Superintendent ... 1860. p. 38.

95. Greenwell, W. E. 1853. In: Bache, A. D. 1853. Report of the Superintendent ... 1852. p. 44.

96. Longfellow, A. W. 1854. In: Bache, A. D. 1854. Report of the Superintendent ... 1853. p. 30-32.

97. Whiting, H. L. 1852. In: Bache, A. D. 1852. Report of the Superintendent ... 1851. Appendix 28.

98. Bache, A. D. 1854. Report of the Superintendent ... 1853. p. 59.

99. Bache, A. D. 1854. Report of the Superintendent ... 1853. p. 44.

100. Almy, J. J. 1853. Extract from report of Lieutenant Commanding J. J. Almy, Coast Survey Steamer HETZEL. In: Bache, A. D. 1853. Report of the Superintendent ... 1852. p. 30.

101. Craven, T. A. M. 1853. Extract from the report of Lieutenant Commanding T. A. M. Craven, commanding Coast Survey Steamer CORWIN. In: Bache, A. D. 1853. Report of the Superintendent ... 1852. p. 37-38.

102. Gerdes here refers to the vertical datum used as a reference for the soundings. Because of the periodic changing of the level of tide in any large body of water, it is necessary for a hydrographer to monitor changes in the water level caused by the changing tides and then determine a datum for all soundings observed during the course of a survey. The first chart published by the Coast Survey in 1845 indicated that soundings in New York harbor were referred to water level of the lowest spring tides observed during the course of the survey. These occurred on October 23 and 24, 1835. Using water level during the lowest observed spring tide as the plane of reference proved cumbersome. The 1846 publication of the chart of Annapolis Harbor referred to mean low water as the plane of reference for all charted soundings.

103. Gerdes, F. 1853. Extracts from the report of Assistant F. H. Gerdes to the Superintendent, of a reconnaissance of the bar, river, and harbor of St. Marks, Florida, April 26, 1852. In: Bache, A. D. 1853. Report of the Superintendent ... 1852. Appendix No. 13, p. 95.

104. Gilbert, S. A. 1853. Extract from the report of Samuel A. Gilbert. In: Bache, A. D. 1853. Report of the Superintendent ... 1852. Appendix No. 15, p. 99.

105. Bache, A. D. 1853. Report of the Superintendent ... 1852. p. 20.

106. Letter from T. S. Phelps to the Secretary of the Treasury. In: Bache, A. D. 1861. Report of the Superintendent ... 1860. Appendix No. 11, p. 128.

107. John Wilkinson resigned his commission in the United States Navy at the beginning of the Civil War and became a successful blockade runner and commerce raider for the Confederate States of America.

108. Bache, A. D. 1854. Report of the Superintendent ... 1853. p. 74-75.

109. Bache, A. D. 1855. Report of the Superintendent ... 1854. p. 53.

110. Stellwagen, H. S. 1855. In: Bache, A. D. 1855. Report of the Superintendent ... 1854. Appendix No. 9, p. 18*.

111. Bache, A. D. 1855. Report of the Superintendent ... 1854. p. 33.

112. Bache, A. D. 1855. Report of the Superintendent ... 1854. Appendix No. 9, p. 18*.

113. Bache, A. D. 1856. Report of the Superintendent ... 1856. p. 37.

114. Bache, A. D. 1856. Report of the Superintendent ... 1855. p. 41.

115. Lieutenant Commanding C. R. P. Rodgers (1819-1892,) served over six years on the Coast Survey. During the Civil War he was Fleet Captain of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron during Du Pont's attack on Charleston among other duties. He was promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral in 1874 and served until 1878 as commandant of the United States Naval Academy. He retired in 1881.

116. Bache, A. D. 1856. Report of the Superintendent ... 1856. Appendix No. 12, p. 116. Extract from report of Lieut. Comg. C. R. P. Rogers, included in letter of A. D. Bache to James Guthrie, Secretary of the Treasury, dated December 8, 1856.

117. Bache, A. D. 1861. Report of the Superintendent ... 1860. p. 57-58.

118. Bache, A. D. 1859. Report of the Superintendent ... 1858. p. 68.

119. Letter from C. H. Davis to Bache, October 30, 1855. In: Bache, A. D. 1856. Report of the Superintendent ... 1855. Appendix No. 10, p. 152-153.

120. Bache, A. D. 1856. Report of the Superintendent ... 1855. p. 8.

121. Bache, A. D. 1856. Report of the Superintendent ... 1855. p. 6.

122. Bache, A. D. 1849. The report of the Superintendent ... 1849. Senate Executive Document No. 5. 31st Congress, 1st Session. p. 26.

123. Lieutenant Craven spent at least 15 years on the Coast Survey prior to the Civil War. He died a hero's death, commanding the iron-clad U.S.S. TECUMSEH in the Battle of Mobile

Bay on August 4, 1864.

124. Bache, A. D. 1852. Report of the Superintendent ... 1851. p. 80.

125. Bache, A. D. 1853. Report of the Superintendent ... 1852. p. 37.

126. By the end of the 1850's, Bache sat on harbor commissions for Charleston Harbor; Cape Fear River; Portland, Maine; New York; Boston; and Mobile. His fellow commissioners usually included Commander Charles Henry Davis, U.S.N., and Brigadier General Joseph G. Totten, head of the Army Corps of Engineers.

127. Bache, A. D. 1854. Report of the Superintendent ... 1853. p. 54.

128. "Professor Forshey" apparently referred to Caleb G. Forshey (1812-1881,) who had attended both Kenyon College and West Point. He graduated from neither, but is reported to have worked as a civil engineer in the Mississippi Delta area. [Source: Kohlstedt, S.G. 1976. The Formation of the American Scientific Community 1848-60. Appendix: Biographical Registry of the AAAS, 1848-1860. University of Illinois Press.] Sand's report, coupled with Professor Forshey's suggestion, is an early reference to using Coast Survey data for modifying the environment for human benefit.

129. Bache, A. D. 1853. Report of the Superintendent ... 1852. p. 44-45.

130. Bache, A. D. 1854. Report of the Superintendent ... 1853. p. 59.

131. Bache, A. D. 1858. Report of the Superintendent ... 1857. p. 47.

132. Bache, A. D. 1859. Report of the Superintendent ... 1858. p. 8-9, 52, 68.

133. Bartlett, W. A. 1852. Report of Lieutenant Commanding Washington A. Bartlett. In: Bache, A. D. 1852. Report of the Superintendent ... 1851. Appendix No. 56. p. 555.

134. Bache, A. D. 1852. Report of the Superintendent ... 1851. p. 48.

135. Bartlett, W. A. 1852. Report of Lieutenant Commanding Washington A. Bartlett. In: Bache, A. D. 1852. Report of the Superintendent ... 1851. Appendix No. 56. p. 553-558.

136. Totten, J. G., Bache, A. D., and Davis, C. H. 1856. Report of Portland Harbor Commission. In: Bache, A. D. 1856. Report of the Superintendent ... 1855. Appendix No. 31, p. 200-219.

137. Totten, J. G. and Bache, A. D. 1858. Report to the Commissioners on the preservation of New York harbor from encroachment, by the advisory council on the comparative map of New York bay and harbor and the approaches; prepared by the Coast Survey March 1857, including extracts from the report of A. Boschke, esq., United States Coast Survey, to Professor A. D. Bache, Superintendent, February, 1857. In: Bache, A. D. 1858. Report of the Superintendent ... 1857. Appendix No. 37, p. 363.

138. Totten, J. G. and Bache, A. D. 1858. Report to the Commissioners on the preservation of New York harbor from encroachment, by the advisory council on the comparative map of New York bay and harbor and the approaches; prepared by the Coast Survey March 1857, including extracts from the report of A. Boschke, esq., United States Coast Survey, to Professor A. D. Bache, Superintendent, February, 1857. In: Bache, A. D. 1858. Report of the Superintendent ... 1857. Appendix No. 37, p. 358-373.

139. Bache, A. D. 1858. Report of the Superintendent ... 1857. Appendix No. 37, p. 368.

140. Bache, A. D. 1858. Report of the Superintendent ... 1857. Appendix No. 37, p. 369.

141. Bache, A. D. 1858. Report of the Superintendent ... 1857. Appendix No. 37, p. 370.

142. Bache, A. D. 1858. Report of the Superintendent ... 1857. Appendix No. 37, p. 370.

143. Bache, A. D. 1858. Report of the Superintendent ... 1857. p. 33.

144. Mitchell, H. 1858. Report of Sub-Assistant H. Mitchell on observations of tides and currents in Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard sounds and in the East river at Hell Gate, with remarks on the revision of levelings on Hudson river. In: Bache, A. D. 1858. Report of the Superintendent ... 1857. Appendix No. 35, p. 350-354.

145. H.A. Marmer in The Sea ( 1930. P. 230. D. Appleton and Company. New York.) described the current pole as "an ordinary pole about fifteen feet long and about two inches in diameter. At one end it is weighted with sheet lead to submerge in the water all but one foot of its length, and to this upper foot is attached a graduated line -- the so-called log line." The current pole was placed in the water and the distance that it was carried by the current in a one-minute period was measured on the log line, "the principal divisions for the whole knots are spaced 101.33 feet and the subdivisions for tenths of knots are spaced at 10.13 feet." (Schureman, P. 1963. Tide and Current Glossary Special Publication No. 228. Revised 1949 Edition. p. 8, under entry for "Current line." Coast and Geodetic Survey, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C.)

146. Mitchell, H. 1858 and 1859. Henry Mitchell reported on his New York Harbor work in Superintendent's Reports for 1857, 1858, and 1859. This account of his survey was drawn from the 1857 and 1858 reports: Report of Sub-Assistant H. Mitchell on observations of tides and currents in Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard sounds and in the East river at Hell Gate, with remarks on the revision of levelings on Hudson river. In: Bache, A. D. 1858. Report of the Superintendent ... 1857. Appendix No. 35, p. 350-354; and Report of Henry H. Mitchell, on the investigation of currents in the East river, at Hell Gate and Throg's Neck, the sub-currents of New York bay and harbor, and levelings on the banks of the Hudson River. In: Bache, A. D. 1859. Report of the Superintendent ... 1858. Appendix No. 28, p. 204-207.

147. Temple, W. G. 1858. In: Bache, A. D. 1858. Report of the Superintendent ... 1857. p. 51. Slightly different wording occurs in: Report of Lieutenant Commanding W. G. Temple, U.S.N., assistant Coast Survey, stating the results of an examination made to determine the least water on the rocks at Hell Gate, East river, New York, Appendix No. 13, p. 150-151:

148. Bache, A. D. 1859. Report of the Superintendent ... 1858. p. 37.

149. Mitchell, H. H. 1859. Report of Henry H. Mitchell, on the investigation of currents in the East river, at Hell Gate and Throg's Neck, the sub-currents of New York bay and harbor, and levelings on the banks of the Hudson River. In: Bache, A. D. 1859. Report of the Superintendent ... 1858. Appendix No. 28, p. 204-207.

150. Bache, A. D. 1859. Report of the Superintendent ... 1858. p. 58.

151. Bache, A. D. 1859. On the tidal currents of New York harbor near Sandy Hook. In: Bache, A. D. 1859 Report of the Superintendent ... 1858. Appendix No. 27, p.199-201.

152. Letter from A. D. Bache to Pelatiat Perit, Esq., President Chamber of Commerce, New York. Dated September 27, 1859. In: Bache, A. D. 1859. Report of the Superintendent ... 1858. Appendix No. 13, p. 132-133.

153. Blunt, G. W. 1860. Report on Harbor Encroachments. In: Bache, A. D. 1860. Report of the Superintendent ... 1859. Appendix No. 13, p. 134-136.

154. Bache, A. D. 1861. Report of the Superintendent ... 1860. p. 89.

155. Bache, A. D. 1861. Report of the Superintendent ... 1860. p. 17.

156. This lighthouse was designed by Captain William H. Swift, Superintendent Hassler's principal assistant and disbursing agent for the ten years prior to his death. Swift had resigned from the Army in 1849 after 36 years service and apparently received no official censure for his role in this disaster. In his defense, Swift had introduced the use of screw-pile construction to the lighthouse establishment. The first Minot's Ledge Lighthouse used this technique and was one of the earliest iron skeleton construction lighthouses ever built. Modifications were made to the structure, both in design and after construction, which increased its vulnerability. See: Holland, F.R. 1988. America's Lighthouses An Illustrated History. p. 94-97. Dover Publications, Inc. New York; and Cullum, G. W. 1891. Biographical register of the Officers and Graduates of the U.S. Military Academy..., Third Edition, Volume I. p. 237-244. Houghton, Mifflin, and Company.

157. Letter from M. Woodhull to Bache, August 24, 1851. In: Bache, A. D. Report of the Superintendent ... 1851. Appendix No. 20, p. 465.

158. Letter from C. H. McBlair to Bache, August 28, 1851. In: Bache, A. D. 1852. Report of the Superintendent ... 1851. Appendix No. 16, p. 453-454.

159. Letter from J. N. Maffitt to Bache, August 10, 1851. In: Bache, A. D. 1852. Report of the Superintendent ... 1851. Appendix No. 16, p. 456

160. Letter from J. Rodgers to Bache, August 25, 1851. In: Bache, A. D. 1852. Report of the Superintendent ... 1851. Appendix No. 16, p. 457-458.

161. Holland, F. R. America's Lighthouses An Illustrated History. p. 155. Dover Publications Inc. New York.

162. Hartman Bache, cousin of Alexander Dallas Bache, was an accomplished engineer, hydrographer, topographer, and artist. He was intimately familiar with the Coast Survey and had even provided assistance to Superintendent Hassler in the reduction of zinc ore for the manufacture of standards. Copies of his sketches of early West Coast lighthouses can be found in Coast Guard photographs, Record Group 26-LG in the National Archives. He rose to the rank of Brigadier General and died in 1872.

163. Letter from J. Totten to Bache, March 31, 1852. In: Bache, A. D. Report of the Superintendent ... 1852. Appendix No. 14, p. 97-98.

164. Bache, A. D. 1856. Report of the Superintendent ... 1855. p. 8-9, 68, 80-81. See also Appendix No. 16.

165. Letters from T. A. M. Craven to Bache, September 16, 1852, and November 26, 1852. In: Bache, A. D. 1853. Report of the Superintendent ... 1852. Appendix No. 44, p. 153-154.

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