Surveyor’s Journal Entry Twenty-Three
The Dawn of Modern Surveying and Road Construction
By the early 1900s, the Franklin County surveyor was actively replacing stone survey monuments with iron pins. This endeavor was symbolic of the start of the modern age of surveying. The magnetic characteristics of the metal enabled the markers to be readily retrieved for the establishment of precise vertical control throughout the area.
Surveys started in 1899 by the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey (CGS), under the federal Department of Commerce, and the U.S. Geological Survey created the first coast-to-coast survey record of the nation, including precise topographic and hydrologic maps of Franklin County.
New local surveys and land use plans lead to the formal establishment of the “Columbus enclave” communities of Marble Cliff (1901), Grandview Heights (1906), Bexley (1908), Whitehall (1910) and Upper Arlington (1913).
Following the devastating Flood of 1913, the City of Columbus joined with the Franklin County Surveyor, The Ohio State University and the CGS to conduct a precise survey of 80 square miles of the city, using horizontal and vertical control, in preparation for land redevelopment and flood control projects.
The start of the “Auto Age” brought about a renewed effort to improve the area’s transportation infrastructure. The introduction of asphalt and concrete pavements finally provided a lasting solution to the problem of muddy and rut-filled streets.
During the Great Depression, the Federal Works Progress Administration, Public Works Administration, and Civilian Conservation Corps put thousands of unemployed Ohioans back to work building roads, bridges, drainage, and landscape infrastructure. The average annual application of hot mix asphalt on the state’s thoroughfares rose more than 1,000 percent from 19,400 tons in 1929 to 210,000 tons by 1940.
Amidst this prolific period of construction, the Ohio Legislature officially redesignated the position of “County Surveyor” to that of “County Engineer,” in 1935, to officially provide for both the surveying and highway engineering needs of the state’s evolving counties. Only those who hold both an Ohio Professional Engineers (P.E.) and Professional Surveyors (P.S.) license may qualify for the publically elected office. Past Franklin County Surveyors and Engineers (link within site)