The Curt Brown Chronicles: A 1968 Review of Boundary Control and Legal Principles

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One of the many things I learned from Curt had to do with being in the surveying profession, after hours, if you will. Far too many surveyors clock out at the end of the work day and leave it at that. Every one of us has encountered something unique on the job. Why not share that with others so we can learn from your experiences? Indeed, it is the best way to advance the profession. —Michael J. Pallamary, PS

June 1968, California Council of Civil Engineers and Land Surveyors
A "Manual of Instructions for the Perpetuation of Survey Data" was published last September by the County Engineer Department of San Diego, headed by Dave Speer. Purpose of the Manual is: "(1) to establish recommended procedures for the preservation of survey data in compliance with state law, and (2) to provide better access to available sources of existing survey information." Curt Brown and Don Nasland of the San Diego Chapter were two of the six members on the drafting committee. The other four members represented the City Engineering Department, the County Engineering Department, and the State Division of Highways.

In 1968, John Wiley and Sons published the second edition of Boundary Control and Legal Principles. The 371 page hardcover book sold for $12.00. Curt was joined by H. Frederick Landgraf and Francois D. "Bud" Uzes. One of Curt’s peers, A. Phillips Bill, a licensed surveyor and registered engineer reviewed the book on behalf of ACSM and its members.

The identification of and the resurvey of the boundaries of previously defined parcels of land involve elements both of the arts and of the sciences. The arts dominate in the analysis of the legal record of descriptive title, the evaluation of this against the record on the ground, and in the presentation of the surveyor’s conclusions to his client and to the future record. Science is served in the measurements made by the resurveyor designed to make his findings more useful to the future use of the parcel of land surveyed, and in his considered efforts to make the remonumentation of the parcel more easily available and understandable to the future.

Reference material for the Land Surveyor has always been more than adequate in the scientific aspects of resurvey. However, source material available in the art of the resurveyor has been, at best, fragmentary.

Mr. Brown’s definitive text Boundary Control and Legal Principles fills a gaping void on the reference shelf of the Land Surveyor, by its thorough treatment of the art of the Surveyor.

Your reviewer, for example, has always felt that Land Survey practice in the area of his first interest (New England) was so insular and so dependent on case law in the region that analogies would be rare to surveys in other parts of North America.

Thanks to Mr. Brown’s book I find that basically the same law and the same responsibility govern the function of the re-surveyor no matter where he practices.

Subject matter is extremely well presented in a simple, logical style and the various aspects of evidence are analyzed clearly and succinctly. The text is well indexed to the drawings illustrating the various problems.

I like the illustrations particularly as they simply and clearly augment the text and are not all cluttered up with a lot of extraneous material not really pertinent to the problem being discussed.

All in all, it is hard to criticize any facet of this most important contribution to the literature of our profession.

No Land Surveyor, either in practice or in training, can afford to be without this most important text! –Phillips Bill, RLS & PE

Author Michael Pallamary has compiled the writings and lectures of the late Curtis M. Brown. These works are published in The Curt Brown Chronicles.

A 72Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine—complete with images—is available by clicking HERE