FieldNotes: The Final Point

I used to joke with my wife that when I died I wanted a geodetic marker set at my grave so that I could continue to be of service to my profession.  I reasoned that my friends would come to visit me, and it had the added benefit that I could keep an eye on projects in my neighborhood. I went so far as to pick out a plot in the Egg Harbor City Cemetery.  It was on top of a hill along a county road with long sights in both directions.  My wife was not amused, however, when I suggested that she needed to be buried on the far side of the cemetery to provide the location for the azimuth mark.  But whose wife ever laughs at her husband’s jokes?

When I recently said goodbye to a friend and colleague who passed away, my old joke came to mind.  Walter White was a local surveyor from Pennsylvania who had worked his entire career in the Delaware Valley.  While planning his memorial service, his family and friends were looking for a way to honor and remember him, and I suggested we get him a National Society of Professional Surveyors’ “Final Point.”

The Final Point program is run by the NSPS in concert with Berntsen International to memorialize land surveyors who have passed.  For a small donation, you or the family can receive a 4” bronze disc engraved with the surveyor’s name, license number, and the latitude and longitude of the final resting place of the surveyor.  The disc is available either highly polished or with a brushed finish and can come with a stem for mounting in a monument or without a stem for placing on a presentation plaque.  The monies raised through this program are used for scholarships for surveying students.

My penchant for carrying a good thing too far was satisfied by combining the NSPS Final Point program with the National Geodetic Survey’s OPUS DB program.  If you haven’t met OPUS DB yet, you are in for a real treat.  Those of you who have performed static GPS surveys will love this, and those of you who never did will get a taste of the good old days!  OPUS DB is a program where local surveyors can help to improve the National Spatial Reference Network, resurvey old marks, or set new geodetic control wherever you need it.

If you plan to go this far you will need a GPS receiver capable of logging raw GPS data.  You will also need to document your observation with photographs, instrument serial numbers, and other pertinent information for submittal to the NGS.  Oh yeah, you will also need to set aside four hours of your day to make an OPUS DB observation.

Completing the process takes a bit of time and planning.  The disc from the NSPS has to be special-ordered.  If you are planning to install it as a mark, you need to order the disc with a point in the center of the mark to survey to.  Then, gather your materials, such as a sonotube, rebar, and concrete.  Next, collect your team and install the monument.  Finally, once the concrete has set, you need to occupy the point.

The result is one that any family member would be pleased with and any surveyor would be proud of. 


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