NSPS Surveying USA at Worland, Wyoming

A 1.084Mb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine—complete with images—is available by clicking HERE

The front page of the Saturday, March 19, 2011, edition of the Northern Wyoming Daily News contained an article informing readers thusly: Local Surveyors to check GPS systems today… Beginning at 11 a.m. local surveyors Stanton Abell, of Worland, and Rick Hudson, of Thermopolis, will be available to check your GPS systems…" Standing in the parking lot of the Washakie Museum and Cultural Center, under a clearing sky an hour before the event, we reviewed our detailed plan for crowd control, confident in our abilities to multi-task, or call for backup if necessary. We had volunteered for this mission…and it would be accomplished!

Two days prior, we had constructed a cast-in-place concrete monument with brass disk as the official 2011 NSPS Surveying USA station, chose the top of the solid granite Earth sculpture as the GPS calibration station, and vowed to obtain a direct observation on the… Nose; the latter being the tip of the life-size, bronze mammoth’s trumpeting trunk.

With the appointed time approaching, Stan left the Trimble 4800 for Rick to set up over the station, temporarily designated Sargent Point for owner Newell Sargent Foundation, and sped off to occupy another station across town; informing him, "If I’m not back by 11, push the green button." With the receiver set up, our chapter banner and NSPS sign suspended from a range pole, and our two-faced monument board displayed, Rick taped one second of latitude south (101 feet) and one second of longitude east (73½ feet) from the globe, placing traffic cones there for visualization of screen readouts to real world distances. (Geodetically sound but ultimately too optimistic.) In a vest pocket he carried a 2 cm. dia. by 5 cm. long socket, waiting for the opportunity to tutor some innocent child or wary adult about local and network accuracy and how efficiently we surveyors can now measure with GPS/OPUS methodology. (Before day’s end he got his chance.)

Stan returned to the largely vacant parking lot and was informed "the snowmobile with the for sale sign" (along Big Horn Avenue) was getting a lot of attention. Undaunted, they recovered a nearby corner monument, observed WAAS and DGPS positions on it and on the top of the globe then, in true `veyor fashion, became fascinated with the geographic detail etched into the polished rock surface. Stan had been told the orb will be lifted an inch and spun by a hidden one-horsepower motor while being bathed in cascading water; quite an impressive engineering and construction project for the sake of artistic endeavor.

Later in the day we did offer assistance to a gentleman with a hand-held (navigation grade) GPS receiver; providing him with the ability to ascertain and transmit an accurate geographic position to his hunting buddies, emergency responders or some hapless tourist who becomes "lost" on the mountain.

Near the end of our four-hour occupation, opportunity presented itself with a husband and wife who stopped to partake of our activities. The conversation turned to the globe and its future as a rotating fountain and speculation as to its weight. Being hard-wired for mathematical and scientific problem-solving the two psudo-geodesists taped the globe’s major axis (hips), divided by pi and again by two, and announced a radius of 1.42 foot. In unison they recited the permanently memorized value, 20,906,000 feet, and determined the globe to be a 1/15,000,000 model of Earth. Stan proclaimed 145 pounds per cubic foot to be a close approximation for the weight of concrete and rock. Both called upon retired brain cells for the volume of a sphere, mumbling 4 and pi and unspecified powers of our radius. Stan headed for his vehicle while Rick retained our visitors. He returned, not with a reference book, but with a "Googled" formula on his PDA. (Who needs memorization or books when you can grab numbers out of thin air.) Finally the weight, about ¾ ton; days later refined by Rick (using reference book data for the weight of granite) at about 2,015 pounds.

By early afternoon, the wind, which is widely reported to almost never blow in Worland, commenced with sustained velocity experienced in Cody and Casper. One last direct GPS observation, by two old veterans possessing four score years of surveying experience, and…mission accomplished! Unless someone photographed us with a cell phone camera, how we did it is for us to know and five-digit registrants to marvel. Stan pushed the green button, we loaded up our toys, and bade farewell to NSPS Surveying USA.

R.L.Hudson, PS, owns R.L.Hudson Surveyor in Thermopolis, Wyoming. An Honorary Member of PLSW, he is an active member of the surveying community in Wyoming and in the NW Chapter of PLSW.

Stanton J. Abell, Jr., PE, PS, is employed by PE Grosch Construction Inc. in Worland, Wyoming. Stan is an Emeritus member of the Wyoming State Board of Examining Engineers & Land Surveyors.

A 1.084Mb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine—complete with images—is available by clicking HERE