Tompkins Surveying and Mapping
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notable surveyors

Historic Figures

Many early surveyors were significant figures from our nation's history.


george washington

When he was 16, George Washington was a surveyor who worked under William Fairfax in northern Virginia and the surrounding area. As an apprentice, he learned about surveying and the math behind it and struck out on his own.  He consequently made quite a name for himself and earned a very handsome wage at the time.

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thomas jefferson

Thomas Jefferson  was a third-generation surveyor. His father was a successful planter and surveyor. Jefferson was appointed chief surveyor over Albemarle County, Va.

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abraham lincoln

Abraham Lincoln learned to survey under a county surveyor, John Calhoun, in Illinois. Lincoln's career as a surveyor lasted only a few years.  His projects included government surveys, road surveys, town lots and private surveys.  Financially, there were difficulties and at one point his equipment was sold at auction to satisfy a debt.  A farmer named John Short bought the items for $120 and returned them to Lincoln.


mason and dixon

The Most Famous Line

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The Mason-Dixon line is named after the two surveyors commissioned to survey the line dispute between Pennsylvania and Maryland. Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon were both astronomers for the Royal Society. They met on assignment and were employed by the respective governors of Pennsylvania and Maryland. At the time there was a great dispute as to the true location of the boundary between the two states. Both were in dispute because Philadelphia, under the boundary description of the time, would be squarely in Maryland.

Mason and Dixon surveyed the line between the two states from 1763-1766. The line measures approximately 220 miles long with stones every mile and a 'crown stone' every 5 miles. The difference between where they set the last stone and where they thought they were differ by about 154 feet. The Mason-Dixon line was used as a reference point during much of the 19th century, and it was the dividing line between the North and the South during the Civil War.

Crown stones like this one were set every 5 miles. Many of the stones that are found today have fences around them.

Crown stones like this one were set every 5 miles. Many of the stones that are found today have fences around them.