Surveyors donate plaque at Initial Point, uncover 1856 stone
A group of surveyors visited the 6th Principal Meridian memorial Saturday south of Hubbell at the Nebraska/Kansas state line. Surveyors call the southern state border the baseline that runs east and west.
Jerry Penry, a land surveyor in Lancaster County, was part of the group that included other surveyors from Nebraska, Kansas and Wyoming, and approximately 15 onlookers from Kansas.
The purpose of the visit was to dedicate a new surveyor’s plaque and maintenance at the site.
“Every year, we try to do one thing,” Penry said. The surveyors take it upon themselves to maintain the site. Located there is the surveyor’s plaque, a Nebraska State Historical marker and a monument to the five states the reference point covers in whole or in part.
Townships and ranges in Nebraska, Kansas, Wyoming, most of Colorado, and a portion of South Dakota fall under the 6th Principal Meridian that runs north and south.
The former surveyor’s plaque dedicated in 1987 had a weathered look to it and the names of the surveyors were faded. The cement pad that holds the original 1956 stone and 1987 brass disk with a cover on top to mark the state line, was cracked.
The surveyors sealed the cracks in the pad and scooped 15 gallons of water out of the hole to view the 1856 stone and brass disk.
Next year, they’ll focus on the monument that is also weathered and nearly unreadable.
Surveyors made stops at the Meridian marker in 2006 for the 150th anniversary and in 2016 for the 160th.
“This would be the 163rd year,” Penry said.
Penry, who has written 53 professional articles for The American Surveyor, has Nebraska surveying information on his website at penryfamily.com:
“The Initial Point was first established Dec. 5, 1854 by John P. Johnson.
“During a check upon Johnson’s work that established the first 108 miles of the Base Line between Nebraska and Kansas, it was discovered to be completely erroneous.
“U.S. Deputy Surveyors Charles A. Manners and Joseph Ledlie discovered the error and resurveyed the Base Line.
“The location established by Manners and Ledlie occurred June 11, 1856. Manners went on to survey in Nebraska while Ledlie surveyed in Kansas.”
The 6th P.M. is the main site, however, there is another Nebraska/Kansas line east to the Missouri River south of Rulo, Penry said.
“Some people think that’s where they began, but they really started south of Rulo, then went 108 miles west,” Penry said. “They thought 108 miles was the western limit of where the hostile Indians were located in 1855-1856.”