Put ‘Surveyor’ into Google image search and you might think surveying is all about theodolites, tripods and rugged looking, hard hatted individuals squinting through telescopes or pointing to the horizon in an intrepid manner. The near universal association between surveying and the theodolite is remarkable as only a small segment of the profession uses an instrument, the majority being quantity, building or estates surveyors who won’t be out there as symbols of progress, exploration or even nation building.
NASA have chosen theodolite surveying as an image of lunar exploration in their 2019 campaign for the Artemis programme and seeing this reminded me of the almost irresistible link between my favorite survey tool and its use as a symbol of progress. Here are a few reminders of the endless optimism engendered by the humble theodolite.
The reality of life at the sharp end of theodolite survey is revealed in these 2 photos from the City of Lake Oswego Oregon archive. The Pacific Railway and Navigation Company fielded survey crews with armed lookouts, heavy logging support and tented accommodation.