There are currently 736,425 benchmarks in the database at geocaching.com. Overall, 82,517 benchmarks have been found and recorded in 114,528 logs. In the last 7 days, 1,007 benchmarks have been logged by 407 users. Four of them were found by me in Greentown, Pennsylvania near Exit 20 of Interstate 84.
I had tried to find a 1959 benchmark named "Burke" a couple of months ago. The eXplorist 600 indicated that I was within a half-mile of and then I realized I would have to trespass on private property to get to the mark — something I do not do, at least on purpose. I saw a sign nearby labeled Robert Burke Consulting. Upon visiting his web site and seeing that he works with Linux, I concluded he must be a nice person and likely would not mind me giving him a call. Not only did he not mind, he offered to escort me to the benchmark — he had noticed it in the past and knew right where it was. I met Bob and his four-year old son at his driveway and off we went in his four-wheel drive truck down a dirt road and off into a field. Turns out that Bob’s father owns hundreds of acres of land where the benchmark is located. Five generations of his family have lived in Pennsylvania.
Turns out that there are actually four benchmarks (Burke, Burke 2, Burke Reference Mark 1, and Burke Reference Mark 2) all within a couple of hundred feet of each other. Three were placed in 1959 and one in 1967. The descriptions given are accurate for finding them — but don’t rely on lat/lon because those are not accurate. One of them was off by nearly 200 feet. Ater many a wild goose chase, I have learned that the best way to find benchmarks is to carefully read the datasheet. Here is a typical description for finding a reference mark…
REFERENCE MARK 1, A STANDARD DISK STAMPED BURKE NO 1 1959, IS CEMENTED IN A DRILL HOLE IN TOP OF A 2 X 3 FOOT BOULDER IRREGULAR IN SHAPE AND PROJECTING ABOUT 2 INCHES ABOVE THE SURFACE OF THE GROUND. IT IS 85.9 FEET SOUTHEAST OF AN 8-INCH TRIANGULAR BLAZED MAPLE TREE, 72.8 FEET SOUTH-SOUTHEAST OF A STANDARD METAL WITNESS POST AND MARKER, 37 FEET SOUTH-SOUTHEAST OF THE CENTER OF A TRACK ROAD AND THE MARK IS ABOUT THE SAME ELEVATION AS THE STATION
The disks were all readable, although there is some corrosion. All are in plain view and the main mark (Burke) has a witness post. If you ever noticed a 3-4 foot long orange stick in the ground with some wording on it, that would be a witness post. It says basically, there is a benchmark nearby and don’t mess with it! The marks would have been useful to surveyors and civil engineers decades ago, but with the advent of inexpensive and accurate GPS devices, they have become unnecessary. In spite of this, they are fun to find — 72 for me so far and only three-quarters of a million or so to go! Lastly, remember the Honda ads from years ago — "You meet the nicest people on a Honda"? Well, this past weekend I discovered the same thing about looking for benchmarks. If you need any systems or Linux consulting in the northeast Pennsylvania area, pay a visit to Robert Burke Consulting.