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Organization Chart 34 5. Publications

(a) Annual Report of the Commissioner of Lighthouses. Government Printing Office.

(b) U. S. Lighthouse Service, 1923. An informative pamphlet. Government Printing Office.

(c) Light Lists, Atlantic and Gulf Coasts of United States.
(d) Light Lists, Pacific Coast of United States.
(e) Light Lists, Great Lakes of United States and Canada.
(f) Light List, Upper Mississippi River and Tributaries.
(g) Light List, Ohio River and Tributaries.
(h) Light List, Lower Mississippi River and Tributaries.
(i) Buoy List (for each lighthouse district).
() Weekly Notice to Mariners.
(k) Porter Notice to Mariners.
(1) Lighthouse Service Bulletins.
(m) Radio Fog Signals and Their Use in Navigation.



The functions of the Coast and Geodetic Survey of the Department of Commerce include the publication of charts and other nautical information for the use of mariners traversing any of the navigable tidal waters of the United States or its possessions, including the field surveys necessary to that purpose; the determination of heights and geographic positions and azimuths to furnish control points for surveys along the coasts and in the interior, and observations and research work in terrestrial magnetism, tides and currents, gravity, and seismology. This work was first undertaken pursuant to authorization by Congress approved February 10, 1807,1 which authorized the President to cause a survey to be made of the coasts of the United States in which were to be designated “the islands and shoals with the roads or places of anchorage, within twenty leagues of any part of the shores of the United States, and also the respective courses and distances between the principal capes or headlands, together with such other matters as he may deem proper for completing an accurate chart of every part of the coasts.” 2. History

In 1807, during the administration of President Thomas Jefferson, Congress authorized the establishment of a national Coast Survey as a bureau under the Secretary of the Treasury, and the plan adopted for its execution was that submitted by Ferdinand R. Hassler. Because of the external relations of the country, it was impracticable to take any steps toward putting the plan in action until 1811, when Hassler was directed to proceed to Europe to arrange for the construction of the necessary instruments and standards, some of the most important of these being made after his own design. The outbreak of the War of 1812 seriously interfered with his commissions, their completion being thereby delayed until the close of 1815, and in consequence actual field work was not possible until 1816. The work was suspended in 1818,3 and resumed in 1832. For the purpose of furnishing geographic positions and other data to state surveys, the scope of the bureau was enlarged in 1871,5 and in 1878 its designation became the Coast and Geodetic Survey. 6

On the organization of the Department of Commerce and Labor in 19037 the bureau was transferred to it from the Treasury Department, and in 1913 to the Department of Commerce.

The plan upon which it is at present organized is based on the broad scientific foundation proposed by Hassler and approved by Jefferson, and its present methods are the perfected results of experience gained in the field and office during more than a century of its existence.

12 Stat. 413. 2 Act, Feb. 10, 1807 (2 Stat. 413). 3 Act April 14, 1818 (3 Stat. 425). 4 Act July 10, 1832 (4 Stat. 571). 5 Act March 3, 1871 (16 Stat. 508). 6 Act June 20, 1878 (20 Stat. 215). 7 Act Feb. 14, -1903 (32 Stat. 826, 829).

In accordance with a plan of reorganization of 1843,8 the work on shore was divided between civilian assistants and officers of the Army, and the hydrographic work was placed almost entirely in charge of officers of the Navy.

In 1861 the officers of the Army and Navy were detached, and since that date no officers of the Army have been assigned to duty on the Survey. After the Civil War the assignments of officers of the Navy gradually increased in number, so that the hydrographic work was about equally divided between them and the civil assistants during the period which extended to 1898, when the officers of the Navy, because of conditions created by the outbreak of the War with Spain, were finally relieved, and in 1900 Congress authorized the establishment of the Survey on a purely civil basis. 3. Activities

The following major divisions of work are indicative of the character of operations necessary to the performance of the above functions:

(a) Geodetic.—The determination by means of precise measurements on the earth's surface combined with astronomic observations, of the latitude, longitude, azimuth, and elevation above mean sea level of a large number of points distributed throughout the area to be charted. The distances and directions between these points form the skeleton framework upon which the survey is built. In addition to determining such points to control its own surveys along the coast, similar points are determined throughout the interior of the United States for use by other surveying organizations and in connection with any engineering projects.

(b) Topographic.- The mapping of the terrain visible to the mariner as he approaches or sails along the coast.

(c) Hydrographic.—The determination of the configuration of the bottom of the sea and its tributary waters, the positions and depths of rocks, reefs, shoals, and other menaces to navigation, the extent and depth of navigable channels, including the sweeping of such navigable areas with a wire lowered horizontally to any appropriate depth, in order to insure that all dangers have been discovered.

(d) Tidal and Current.--Observations and research leading to the prediction of the rise and fall of the tides at all points along the coasts, the direction and velocity of tidal currents and their times of slack water.

(e) Terrestrial Magnetism.-Determination of the direction and strength of the earth's magnetic field for all parts of the United States and its possessions, together with their rates of change; research work in seismology.

(f) The office reduction of data obtained in the field on the above subjects, and their preparation in the form of charts, coast pilots, tide and current tables, geographic positions and elevations, and other publications suitable for use by the mariner or engineer.

4. Organization

The organization chart is self-explanatory. (See Chart 35.)


8 Act March 3, 1813 (5 Stat. 610).

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Assistant Chief


Assistant Chief

Division and
Chief Section
Field Records

Chief Section Drafting


Section Photography

Chief Section Engraving

Chief Section Field Work

Chief Section Vessels and Equipment


Coast Surveys


Chief Section Printing

Chief Section Sales

Inspector Field Station


Inspector Field Station San Francisco

Inspector Field Station


Inspector Field Station New York

Clerk in Charge Field Station New Orleans

Chief Clerk

Chief Division Geodesy

Chief Division Tides and Currents

Chief Division Terrestrial Magnem

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Division Hydrography and Topography


to The Director



Chief Division Accounts

hief Division

Organization Chart 35

5. Publications

The List of Publications of the Department of Commerce contains a list of the Survey's publications available for distribution at the present time. This list, however, does not cover the entire field within which the Survey is prepared to assist the public. Briefly, that field may be classified as follows:

(a) The records of almost one hundred years of surveys along our coasts are available in the Survey's archives. These surveys have been made in great detail on large scales. They include frequent resurveys in many localities where natural or artificial changes have been in progress. Photographic copies of these records which are furnished at the cost of reproduction are extensively used in connection with questions involving a knowledge of the physical condition of a property at some past time.

(b) The Survey can furnish data regarding the variation of the compass including the amount of that variation in earlier years, by which boundary lines run years ago with the surveyor's compass can be retraced. Such data can be furnished for most parts of the interior of the United States as well as along the coast.

(c) Data of any kind regarding the tides of which the following are typical: Range at any locality; height of tide at any place at any moment, past, present, or future; elevation of such tidal planes as high water, low water, or mean sea level, with respect to permanently marked points on the shore and comparable information with respect to currents.

(d) Precise geographic positions and elevations of permanently marked points in every state of the union and in most of its possessions together with such descriptions of these points as will permit of their recovery. Such points are extensively used to control local surveys or other engineering projects.

Obtainable from Chief, Division of Publications, Department of Commerce, Washington, D. C. See, also, under “Publications,” Department of Com.merce, ante.


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