NOAA Photo Library Banner
Takes you to the Top Page Takes you to the About this Site page. Takes you to the Contacts page. Takes you to the HELP page. Takes you to the Credits page. Takes you to the Collections page. Takes you to the search page. Takes you to the Links page.
Historical C&GS

geodesy banner

surveyor using plane tablePrior to the age of electronic surveying, accuracies of 1 part in a million were achieved on numerous surveys while the most accurate baseline ever measured by the Coast and Geodetic Survey with classical techniques had a final accuracy of better than 1 part in 5.5 million. To put that in perspective, that is a measurement error of less than one inch in 90 statute miles. Such accuracies led to surveyors coining a saying that in its various forms stated: "Good enough for Government work". Loosely translated, that saying refers to a very accurate survey and has its roots in the science of geodesy as developed by the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey, an organization that became legendary for the accuracy and precision of its results. Such accuracies were not achieved in sterile laboratory settings. The surveyors and engineers of the Coast and Geodetic Survey surveyed the mountains, plains, deserts, and shores of the United States and its territories -- a difficult task that required not only technical ability but also fortitude, perseverance, physical strength, and quiet courage. Their spirit served the Nation well. The geodetic surveys accomplished by the field personnel of the Coast and Geodetic Survey have: been a major factor in the world-wide effort to develop more accurate values of the size and shape of the Earth; helped determine the placement and design of many of the great civil works of the United States; served as the control surveys for the national mapping efforts of the United States Geological Survey; helped with many of the technical aspects of our Nation's defense; determined many state boundaries within our United States as well as the boundaries of many of the nations of the Americas; and helped determine property lines throughout much of our Nation.

collection viewing options banner
View ALL images contained in the collection. Click on thumbnails to view larger images.
Images are arranged by themes. Click on thumbnails to view larger images. Note that not all images are contained in the albums - select the above option to view ALL current images.

Historical Coast & Geodetic Survey ~ Geodesy Albums

Early auto
Getting There

surveying instrument
Latitude and Longitude

man standing next to survey marker
Survey Marks

illustration of man on horse pulling early measuring equipment

men on hill with plane table equipment
Mapping the

early surveyors
Determining the Elevations -
Leveling a

men in tent
Camp Life

Publication of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA),
NOAA Central Library

NOAA Privacy Policy | NOAA Disclaimer

Last Updated:
September 30, 2009