RALEIGH, N.C. – Have you ever wondered about the three large stones grouped together at the southeast corner of the State Capitol grounds? These granite blocks are geodetic survey markers and the topic of a lecture scheduled for Saturday, March 19, at 1:30 p.m. The free lecture will take place in the historic House Chamber.
Gary Thompson of the N.C. Geodetic Survey will speak on the history of the Capitol grounds’ longitude marks, how geodetic surveys have supported the development of the state and how North Carolina got its shape.
In April 1853, the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey installed granite geodetic survey stones and established the latitude and longitude of Raleigh. In order to perform these observations, a telegraphic longitudinal connection had to be made between Washington, D. C., Raleigh, N.C., and Charleston, S.C.
The work was apparently difficult, as documents indicate: “Several conditions had to be met before work could proceed…. First, the weather had to be favorable at both points…second, the telegraph line had to be available…third, the telegraph operator had to be in condition to work.” And in a quote from notes taken at the time: “No further observations can be made because of the condition the operator is in.” The last note leaves one to wonder. However, observations with modern equipment have shown the latitude and longitude of the survey stones to be quite accurate, despite any issues that may have been going on with the 1853 operator.
The State Capitol’s mission is to preserve and interpret the history, architecture and functions of the 1840 building and Union Square. The Capitol is bounded by Edenton, Salisbury, Morgan and Wilmington streets. For more information, visit www.nchistoricsites.org/capitol/default.htm or call (919) 733-4994.
Administered by the Division of State Historic Sites, the State Capitol is part of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources, the state agency with the mission to enrich lives and communities, and the vision to harness the state’s cultural resources to build North Carolina’s social, cultural and economic future. Information on Cultural Resources is available 24/7 at www.ncculture.com.
(The Capitol is also conducting a free women's history tour that day at noon, focusing on notable N.C. women past and present. For more information go to http://news.ncdcr.gov/2011/03/09/women%e2%80%99s-history-tour-march-19-explores-notable-female-%e2%80%9cfirsts%e2%80%9d-at-state-capitol/ .)
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