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Survey says - Big Ole pinpointed to the millimeter

On Saturday, surveyors from Widseth Smith Nolting positioned the Big Ole 2011 Control Point in Big Ole Central Park. The point is precisely located at Latitude N 45° 53' 26.79987" and Longitude W 95° 22' 37.66931" - give or take a few millimeters. That specific spot on Earth can serve as a reference point for local surveys.1 / 2
This is the Big Ole 2011 Control Point in place at Big Ole Central Park.2 / 2

Seeing a surveyor working on the side of a road or in a field is usually the first clue that something new is coming through - maybe a new road or building.

But what exactly are surveyors doing with that leggy equipment?

This is National Surveyor's Week and to kick off the event, a crew from Widseth Smith Nolting (WSN) set up their equipment at the foot of Big Ole in Alexandria on Saturday.

It was an opportunity for the public to see survey equipment up close, ask questions and learn what surveyors do.

What do they do?

Here's what they do: Surveyors mark and measure the surface and boundaries of land using specialized equipment.

Those measurements are used to create maps, legal descriptions and develop property and projects - like new roads, housing developments and commercial construction.

"Most construction begins and ends with surveyors," said Bryan Balcome, a licensed surveyor for WSN.

On Saturday, two pieces of equipment were demonstrated - a survey grade global positioning system (GPS) and a robotic total station. The two instruments cost about $55,000.

Like everything else, technology has advanced surveyors' equipment, especially with advances in GPS.

"What I did in 1994 surveying boundaries of a section would take three to four days and two or three guys to do it," Balcome said. "Now, it takes one person four hours."

Big Ole 2011 Control Point

While hosting Saturday's event, WSN surveyors also participated in the National Society of Professional Surveyors Surveying USA event.

Several yards from Big Ole, the WSN crew positioned a pin that can serve as a reference point for local surveys.

Give or take a few millimeters, the Big Ole 2011 Control Point is located at Latitude N 45° 53' 26.79987" and Longitude W 95° 22' 37.66931."

If you type those coordinates into Google Earth, it will show you a satellite image of that precise point on Earth.

That point on Earth will be submitted to the National Geodetic Survey - a government agency that provides framework for all positioning activities in the nation.

Amy Chaffins

Amy Chaffins is a journalist working for the Echo Press newspaper in Alexandria, Minnesota.

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