This was probably the absolute best benchmark find yet. (And what makes it even more enjoyable is that the latest data sheet reports that someone with the Power Squadron had reported this as "not found" in 2003. ha!)
The day was fabulous, warm, and breezy.
I happened to see a farmer out starting his old tractor right near where I needed to park, and asked him if I could go up to the top of the bluff to find the benchmark. He was a bit baffled as to what I was doing this, even after I explained things to him. He said that on top of one of the line of knolls in the area he'd heard there was a monument of some sort and that it was the highest spot in Whiteside county. I promised to show him some pictures if I found it, and he unlocked a gate for me and went on to pull some junk out of the way with the tractor.
There was a road/path paved with huge chunks of gravel leading right up the steep slope, so I followed that. It was very steep and went straight up the incline. I was pretty beat by the time I reached the top. (checking the topo map later showed that the path rose 100 ft in about 250 ft. Pretty steep. The elevation of the pipecap above where I parked was 145 ft. in about 350 yds.)
On top of the steep bluff there was a graveyard of various rusting farm wagons, etc. and what looked like a collapsed chicken coop. There was even the remains of a horse-drawn wagon.
The mown path curved around and into a sunlit clearing with woods on either side and many birds flying around as well as yet another rusted farm implement.
My GPS indicated that the benchmark was to my left, north, and so I whacked my way through some light brush to find a barbed wire fence with a pasture on the other side.
After getting over the fence without emasculating myself, I found myself in a beautiful pasture mown short by cattle, leaving only huge thistle plants blooming with gorgeous huge purple flowers.
I threaded my way through the many cow pies and followed my GPS. Then I glanced up, and THERE IT WAS! The old iron pipe!
It was right on the very highest spot for many miles and the tallest hill of many in the pasture.
And to my great excitement, it had the original pipecap still in place!! The best find before this one was the ROCKS pipecap, (MG0670,located about 6.5 miles south of here)and it too was on top of an almost vertical cliff/hill. But when I at last reached it, all it was was the pipe. The cap had vanished.
But this one had the cap in good shape, considering that it's been standing there, spring, summer, fall, and winter for over 73 years! It even had one brass dowel/screw holding it in place, though the other was gone.
As you can see in the photo, the cap reads "U.S. Mississippi River Commission 1891"
The views were spectacular, and there wasn't a building in sight. It was so peaceful, isolated, (not even any cows. Well, live ones.. read on.) and beautiful that I could have spent the entire day there. Not a soul around and on the highest spot for many miles, on a beautiful day in a beautiful meadow. It doesn't get much better.
I took many pictures and enjoyed it as much as I could. I then began my trek back.
While on the summit, I'd noticed a dark object in the distace. As I walked toward it to see what it was, I realized it was a dead cow! I also noticed several large birds, which I imagine were turkey buzzards, circling overhead. I approached as close as my nose would allow, took a quick picture and made my way towards the fence.
I crossed without injury again, but found myself in a very thick wooded area which was difficult to get through. But I finally found the path again and enjoyed the downhill walk.
I found the farmer and showed him the pictures, thanked him, and headed on my way.
A great find all the way around. Highly recommended.
[This entry was edited by CacheBar on Thursday, June 24, 2004 at 2:02:30 AM.]
[This entry was edited by CacheBar on Thursday, June 24, 2004 at 2:04:22 AM.]
[This entry was edited by CacheBar on Sunday, June 27, 2004 at 11:28:42 PM.]
[Photos:]Pipecap with GPS
This shot shows the elevation to be 718 ft. (can see it better if you click on photo to maximize it.)
AHA! I found it.
View North from pipecap
On a clear day, you can see forever...
This cow is not napping..
Can't imagine what happened to this cow, but it was the only one I saw, despite abundant evidence that they have been all over this pasture.
Don't know if these were large hawks, eagles, or turkey buzzards. I don't know if hawks and eagles eat dead meat or not.
riding the updrafts near the bluff
Wheeling around in the sky.
Detail of Pipecap
U.S. Mississippi River Commission 1891
This piece of farm equipment likely served for years before ending up in this isolated high meadow.