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Route 7 Benchmarks

BenchmarkU.S. Route 7 reaches 309 miles from Highgate Springs, Vermont to Norwalk, Connecticut. Parts of Route 7 are quite scenic but much of the highway is used heavily by commuters. I am not sure how many of the nation’s 736,425 benchmarks are along the entire route but by doing some research using the Geocaching Swiss Army Knife — my favorite tool for storing and manipulating location data — I have discovered that there are two dozen marks along Route 7 within ten miles of where I live. The obvious challenge is to find them (the official term is "recover" them). Overall, 69,932 of the nation’s benchmarks have been "recovered" as of today so my contribution will be a drop in the bucket — but hopefully a lot of fun.
So far I have found eight of twenty-four benchmarks that all have 54 in their station name. For example, "P54" is a benchmark along the railroad tracks in Wilton, Connecticut. Here is what the station description says…

DESCRIBED BY NATIONAL GEODETIC SURVEY 1984 4.5 KM (2.8 MI) NORTH FROM WILTON. 4.4 KM (2.75 MI) NORTH ALONG U.S. HIGHWAY 7 FROM THE TOWN HALL IN WILTON, THENCE 0.2 KM (0.05 MI) SOUTHEAST ALONG SEELEY ROAD ACROSS TRACKS TO THE MARK ON THE LEFT, IN EXPOSED BEDROCK, 35.66 METERS (117.0 FT) NORTHEAST OF THE CENTERLINE OF THE ROAD, 2.07 METERS (6.8 FT) SOUTHEAST OF THE SOUTHEAST RAIL, 1.49 METERS (4.9 FT) NORTH-NORTHEAST OF A STEEL I-BEAM WITH CONCRETE FOUNDATION. THE MARK IS 0.91 M ABOVE TRACKS.
As I pointed out in a prior story about benchmarking, the key to finding benchmarks is not the latitude and longitude of the location as it is with geocaching. The lat/lon, in this case N41° 13.583  W73° 25.417, is helpful to get you to within 100 feet or so of the benchmark but the best way to actually finding the mark is to read the description very carefully. Since accurate GPS devices were not available when benchmarks were put in place, the lat/lon was determined from existing maps and sometimes is off quite a bit. On the other hand, multiple descriptions like "4.9 feet north-northeast of a steel I-beam with concrete foundation" are very specific and almost always gets you to the mark.
Almost always. Yesterday I was looking for V54 which is in an abutment of highway bridge No. 536 over the Norwalk River. A few months ago there was a terrible accident where a gas tanker traveling north on Route 7 tried to avoid an SUV which had turned right in front of the truck. In the process of swerving to avoid the car and swerving back into its lane, the truck jack-knifed, slid on its side into the bridge railing, spilled 8,800 gallons of gas, and burst into a horrific fireball that melted the bridge. It had to be totally replaced. I suspect the benchmark is gone forever. In fact many of the nation’s benchmarks may be gone, especially those along highways which have experienced major reconstruction.
You meet the nicest people while out searching for benchmarks. In a prior story about benchmarking, I reported about the 89 year-old gentleman I had met in Pennsylvania who remembered the 1954 placement of a benchmark at the corner of his barn. This week I met a very nice young couple who live in Wilton, Connecticut along Route 7. I got to within 100 feet of station S54 and pulled the trike off on the shoulder. The description said the mark was on the north side of a two story frame house, 35 feet northeast of the northwest corner of the house. It was obvious that this one was on private property. I saw a young man in a Fedex uniform standing outside his garage. He was very friendly and when I explained what I was looking for he grinned and signaled the way to a big rock in his back yard. Vic and his wife had been wondering for a long time what the metal stamp in the rock was. They were really pleased to learn about benchmarks. I left them with the printout showing all the details. Vic showed me his new Harley-Davidson V-Rod.
I may not find all the "54" benchmark stations along Route 7 in Connecticut but I am having fun trying and sharing what I learn. There are pictures of each benchmark I have found posted in the log. You can find them here.