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Professional Land Surveyors of Oregon


Lost & Found

word “dalle” meaning “sluice” or in “voyager french,”

referring to rapids or turbulent water, none of which

the Barlow company had seen as they paralleled the

comparatively docile Columbia River westward over

relatively gentle ground from its junction with the

Snake River. At The Dalles, both riverbanks steepened

drastically and soon rose to more than 2,000 feet

above the river with an impressive array of lava cliffs

and waterfalls, making further travel by wagons

impossible through what today is known as the

Columbia River Gorge. Most previous pioneers had

to dismantle their wagons and put them on hastily

built rafts to carry their families and possessions

downstream past the nearby “dalles” in the river and

on to the dreaded “cascades” where they would then

have to portage several miles to regain the relatively

placid waters below. Many preceding pioneer families

had lost either their possessions or their lives during

this forty-some mile long ordeal. Captain Sam Barlow

had heard about these perils over the past five

months on the trail and was determined to find a

route over the untried mountain passes instead. He

declared “God never made a mountain that he had

not made a place for some man to go over it or under

it. I am going to hunt for that place…” After much trial

and error, he and a companion, after numerous dead

ends and false starts, returned in late November to

retrieve his waiting company, now smaller, and begin

the traverse over the south side of Mt. Hood towards

Oregon City. After leaving their wagons enroute, most

of the party finally made it out of the snowy mountain

canyons on foot, two days before Christmas. They

later retrieved the wagons and completed their

journey to the fertile Willamette Valley. In 1846

Barlow made application to the Provisional

Government for a charter to open

a wagon road over the route

he pioneered the fall

before. It was

readily granted and the Barlow Toll Road was slowly

improved and started receiving travelers willing to

pay a toll versus the other alternatives. Today, its

old track can still be seen as it crosses the range

line several chains south of the northeast corner of

section 25. Its grade snakes along, climbing out of

Rock Creek to the east and reaches the rolling oak

and pine savannah near a wooden gate as it enters

Section 25. It was not hard for me to imagine Mr.

Edwards and Charles Ingalls ambling along a very

similar 1850’s road on their way to Mankato.

Our 1991 survey itself was a traditional traverse

using a “high-tech” Wild theodolite (for the time) that

contained a 3” square hard disc that recorded point

numbers, angles and distances (Code 10, Code 20,

Code 30, etc) and could then be ejected from the

instrument and put into an office “reader” that would

generate a hard-copy print. (An early predecessor

of the modern data collector.) I had also been using

an innovative sun-shot program developed and

marketed by Dr. Richard Elgin’s firm, Elgin, Knowles

and Senne, Inc. of Rolle, Missouri. I started using

it in about 1986 and found it to be a tremendous

improvement over the traditional method commonly

in use prior to that time (for most private surveyors

without a solar compass or solar transit). The “old

method” required measuring the vertical angle to

the sun and then going through a rather tedious

algebraic computation process involving ephemeris

data and local time and lat-long to derive an azimuth,

usually days later in the office. Another disadvantage

of the “vertical angle method” was that it couldn’t

be used reliably between about 10am and 2pm.

Richard Elgin’s program introduced the “hour-angle

method” to me and countless other surveyors. I

still use my HP-41CV with a “time module chip” and

Elgin’s “ASTRO*ROM2 chip” plugged in. I came to

prefer the “trailing edge” option and even now can

still come up with a true azimuth after about 10 to 15

minutes in the field. This was especially handy on the

1991 survey. I was always curious to know the “real

bearings” to BTs, etc. from the corner point (once it

was determined) to compare with the record

bearings of long ago. One only needed to occupy

said point and orient your instrument’s “circle”

to the true azimuth and then turn to the various

accessories and observe the actual true bearing and

measure the distance. On the 1991 survey, the BLM

had remonumented several corners along the range

line in 1965. When we set up on the east quarter

corner of Section 36, imagine my surprise when we


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