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Details for Benchmark: RD0668

N 45° 42.350 W 123° 15.217 (NAD 83)

Altitude: 1024.23

Coordinates may not be exact. Altitude is ADJUSTED and location is SCALED. (more info)

In WASHINGTON county, OR View Original Datasheet
L 96
Marker Type:
bench mark disk
setting not listed - see description
Mark of questionable or unknown stability.

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Even though we are logging this as a Note, we believe we recovered the monument base.

Comments and changes to the 1934 monumentation description are as follows:

  • The description mentions that this is “in Walcott”. There is nothing left of Walcott. On published maps of the area, the spelling of Walcott has one less “l” than in the 1934 description.

  • This is now the Port of Tillamook Bay Railroad (instead of the Southern Pacific).

  • Because mile post 789 is no longer standing, we were unable to verify the 27.5 rail lengths distance from that mile post to the mark.

  • There is no positive indication of where the flag station might have been.

  • We found the mark at 34 feet east-northeast of the east end of the gate as measured along the fence line. Or, it is 36.2 feet from the end of the gate if measured in a straight line directly to the mark (roughly northeast by east).

  • We found the mark at 36 feet approximately south of the closest rail as measured perpendicular from the alignment of the tracks. (We have investigated other 1934 marks along this track and so far it appears that in those descriptions they typically measured from the closest rail rather than to the centerline of the standard gauge tracks.)

  • We found this mark 12.6 feet approximately north-northwest of the original right-of-way fence line (as measured perpendicular to the run of the fence line).

  • The mark is 23 feet approximately south of the center of a manhole cover and 20.8 feet approximately south of the manhole cover’s orange WCI Cable marking post #78907. (This manhole is in the middle of nowhere – miles from any town.)

  • The mark is across the tracks from a few railroad (or cable company) enclosures that are in a 115 foot x 50 foot yard surrounded by a cyclone fence topped with barbed wire. These buildings are fairly new – built sometime after July 2000.

Our Garmin Nuvi 760 gave the coordinates of the mark as N 45° 42.358 W 123° 15.275 (with “19 foot accuracy”). This is 250 feet from the scaled coordinates.

We are within a foot (or less) of all 3 still-verifiable distances from the 1934 monumentation and firmly believe this is the original base (especially so, given that this is such a remote area with nothing else around.)


07/14/2009 (just to say Hi)

Continued on next log…

LOG – Part II

This is one of our favorite “finds” even if the disk itself was gone. This took multiple trips over a 3 month period to find, research, and log. We made extra trips and research forays in an attempt to ensure we had truly found the monument base.

Bushwacking was definitely required! The scaled coordinates were unfortunately some distance from the ultimate location so we were off to a bad start. Brush here is thick – made up of “sticker bushes” and Scotch Broom. Scotch Broom can be a scourge around here and this location was a prime example – sometimes it was up to our necks. There was no clearing anywhere – all brush. It took a good part of the day just to find a portion of the R.O.W. fence. It was not continuous – part of an old cedar fence post here, some barbed wire there, and 2 or 3 rusted metal posts. We would find one portion and then work outward from there to try and find another. Searching often required using the weight of your body to “fall through” the brush to create a hole to advance a foot or two. As we got farther away from the scaled coordinates we begin to worry that maybe there was nothing left of the gate. (Finding the gate was our only hope for an east-west clue to where this was.) At the end of the first day, towards dusk, after falling down though another mass of brush, we saw a rusty tubular piece of bent metal on the ground. Following the bends of the metal led to one of the highlights of the search: It ended at a cedar gate post that was still standing and still held one side of the hinged gate! Since it was getting dark, we took a very rough guess of where the mark might be and fought our way to that location. We made a few tentative probe stabs but came up with nothing. Darkness brought the search to a halt for that day.

We came back the next day ready to battle the Scotch Broom. It required extensive work just to be able to see the ground. Since the description was not clear as to which part of the gate the CGS monumenters were measuring from, or whether they were measuring from the closest rail or the center of the tracks, we had quite a bit of ground to probe. We set up a grid with flags and would probe every 6 inches. Mark and probe, mark and probe, was our rhythm for the day. After a lot of searching and brow wiping we finally had a hit with the probe. The initial probing was discouraging. The “hits” butted up against a tree stump and did not seem to extend 8 inches away from the stump. This suggested that maybe we had found a rock instead of an 8x8 inch concrete monument.

We commenced digging around the area of the hits. We reached concrete! (ahhh – the thrill of finding concrete at the end of probe tip instead of a rock). Unfortunately, as we cleared off the top of the concrete we did not find a disk. It turned out that the concrete top was broken off (sad face).
We were able to determine the reason we initially thought the area of probe hits was too small to be the monument: the tree whose stump this was next to, had grown over a portion of the broken top of the concrete. We chipped away at the wood and eventually discovered a full 8 x 10 inch concrete post base. The 1934 monuments along this railroad are 8x8 at the top. However, on what was left of the base, we could see forming board marks with a slight inward tendency on one side that led us to believe that when the concrete reached its original apex it could be an 8x8 size instead of the 8x10 size at the subterranean base.

Continued on next log…

LOG – Part III

With no actual disk or stem hole we wanted to do our best to see if we could confirm this was indeed the original location. We conducted online searches, library searches, and made a trip to the county historical society. We were unable to find photos or other any other information on Walcott. Railroad books covering this area had information on other stations, but not on Walcott. Perhaps this was because it was remotely located and was only a flag station rather than a regular station.

We went looking for other marks set along this part of the railroad (Project ID L2334) to see what we could learn that might help us with RD0668. We found two commonalities for these marks: 1) the description distance from the tracks seems to indicate that the measurements were made from the closest rail rather than from the center of the tracks. 2) the top finished and weathered surface of these monuments has aged to a nice, almost ivory-colored, wrinkly texture.
Item 2 did not help us (since the top of RD0668 was sheared off) but Item 1 did lend credence to our find being what was left of RD0668.)

Purely historical information on Walcott: Although we were unable to find any historical photos or published information on Walcott, we did come across a typewriter-produced, first-hand account from a famous old-timer of the area. This account provides some flavor of the area from a time when L 96 was in its heyday. This information was dictated by Elroy Gravelle. Elroy was born around 1914 and spent his entire life in this part of Washington County.

“…there was a station (freight) called Walcott. It was a place where lumber from the mills was loaded on trains. The lumber come from a mill near our place, called the Johnson mill. They built a plank road from the mill to Walcott station so that lumber could be hauled in the winter time too.
Neighbors in the area would send to Portland, through mail order catalog stores such as Jones Cash Store, Montgomery Ward, and Sears and Roebuck, for many items they needed and it would be sent to Walcott station. Then people would pick up their own articles they ordered. No one those days bothered other person’s merchandise at the station.”

Apologies for the long log.

(edited to add the last 2 paragraphs that were inadvertently omitted.)

[This entry was edited by TillaMurphs on Saturday, August 15, 2009 at 4:39:15 PM.]

photoRD0668 - Tracing fence line.
The white cord at the left is something we stretched between fence post remnants to try and establish the fence line. (16 November 2009 photo)
photoRD0668 – A remaining fence post.
We finally find part of the fence. We attached flagging to assist with sighting through the brush from post to post. (16 November 2009 photo)
photoRD0668 - Gate post.
The key clue - finding a gate post (the only one we found). (16 November 2008 photo)
photoRD0668 - Gate post bottom.
Interesting bottom pivot. (16 November 2008 photo)
photoRD0668 – Twisted gate.
After clearing vegetation we found the remnants of the gate. (16 November 2008 photo)
photoRD0668 – Getting close.
At the very bottom and at the left corner of the photo you can see a portion of where we have already cleared brush. The monument would turn out to be in the center of the brush about 1 meter in front of the dog’s nose. (Of course the dog has one ear turned inside-out for the photo – he is such a dork). (16 November 2008 photo)
photoRD0668 - Monument found! (our assumption).
After chipping under the stump and digging - the (assumed) monument is finally exposed! (16 November 2008 photo)
photoRD0668 - Monument.
(16 November 2008 photo)
photoRD0668 - Monument Detail.
(16 November 2008 photo)
photoRD0668 - Monument in December
photoRD0668 - Looking west-southwest - snow.
Mark would be just at the left edge of the photo at about the vertical center and down in the Scotch Broom. (December 2009 photo)
photoRD0668 - Looking east-northeast.
The arrow indicates the general location of the monument although the monument is obscured by brush and can’t be seen in the photo. (July 2009 photo)

Tried for this one didn't even come close. According to my GPS I got within about 250 feet of the benchmark while staying on the dirt road, but the GPS was pointing up into a clearcut logging area that was guarded by a locked gate. I couldn't tell if there was a railroad up there or not, but it did not look promising. Either the coordinates are way off, or things have changed significantly since the last recorded notes, or there IS a railroad through the clearcut that would be more easily explored during the day.

Documented History (by the NGS)

01/01/1934 by CGS (MONUMENTED)

Control Text

  • The horizontal coordinates were scaled from a topographic map and have an estimated accuracy of +/- 6 seconds.
  • The orthometric height was determined by differential leveling and adjusted by the National Geodetic Survey in June 1991.
  • The geoid height was determined by GEOID99.
  • The dynamic height is computed by dividing the NAVD 88 geopotential number by the normal gravity value computed on the Geodetic Reference System of 1980 (GRS 80) ellipsoid at 45 degrees latitude (G = 980.6199 gals.).
  • The modeled gravity was interpolated from observed gravity values.

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