The Curt Brown Chronicles: Comment and Discussion

A 75Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine—complete with images—is available by clicking HERE

One of the many things I admired about Curt Brown was not only his self-deprecating humor, but also the very character that made him up. He was a man by every standard of measurement and one of the measures of a man/woman is his/her willingness to accept criticism or corrections to the things they did. Because Curt pretty much controlled the content of the columns he wrote for ACSM, he could also dictate what was published. He had the authority to censure things if he wanted. Instead, he encouraged and welcomed civil discourse and, the profession is much better for it.

In the later articles he published, he had his fair share of critics, mostly people who felt empowered in a perverse sort of way by challenging Curt. Most of the time, his critics were those that argued about something Curt wrote 20 or 30 years earlier, foolishly advancing debates that would have made sense a quarter of a century earlier.

In this month’s Thought Leader, I write about the degradation of land surveying through the blind application of modern programs. In those cases, measuring people get an answer and they have no clue how it arrived.

With the advent of the Internet, Facebook, and forums, we face a different kind of critic in the form of "trolls." These are people who post things anonymously as they have neither the class nor the character to identify themselves so they can be debated in public.

Last month I published an article about Line Trees, written by Curt in 1963. The gentleman below elected to comment and Curt welcomed him to do so. Moreover, his critic identified himself and this led to a healthy discussion on the topic. Taken in context with my current Thought Leader column, there is a story here we should all consider.
—Michael Pallamary, PS

December 1963
The pages of Surveying and Mapping are open to free and temperate discussion of all matters pertaining to the interests of the Congress. It is the purpose of this department to encourage comments on published material or the presentation of new ideas in an informal way.—Editor

Line Trees
Ted R. Miller*–Reference is made to the article "Line Trees" by Curtis Brown in the March 1963 journal. I would disagree under the conditions described that an original GLO line tree found between a known section corner and a known 1/4 corner should place a dog-leg in the line connecting the two, and thus placing the 1/16 corner off a straight line.

The controlling points of the original survey were the corners which the original surveyor set and not the path he traveled in determining their location. Otherwise there would not be a straight line in any of the compass-located lines of the original survey between section and quarter corners. Due to man’s inability to walk a perfectly straight line when perfectly sober, a compass line inherently wobbles.

Line trees were possibly a required headache for the original surveyor, and their linear location may not have been too closely recorded. I would seriously question prorating the distance from the line tree, thus placing the 1/16 corner other than equidistant between original corner locations. And in direction, who knows how close behind the compassman or the chainmen may have been the axman.

Certainly if either the ¼ corner or particularly the section corner in the case cited, since it was close to the line tree, were lost, then the line tree would be controlling in determining the direction of the straight line and the distance.

*700 Park Avenue, Charlevoix, Michigan. Registered Land Surveyor (Michigan), and member of the Michigan Society of Registered Land Surveyors and the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping 

CORRECTION: The formula in last month’s Line Trees installment should have been 20.00/32.94 × 33.02 = 20.049

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 75Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine—complete with images—is available by clicking HERE