You can HELP BUILD SELECTION when you become a MARKER SLEUTH! Our goal is to produce authentic replicas of actual markers at America's favorite sites and summits. Help us expand the collection by becoming a member of our elite team of marker sleuths.
When you hike, climb, or visit a geographically significant site, look around for survey markers. Take a photograph of markers you find. It's challenging and fun and the marker(s) you locate could become part of the collection. If a submission results in a new product, you or your organization will be credited for the contribution on the back of that product's informational hang tag. You will receive one each of the products developed from your submission, as they become available. Generally we will produce pins, zipper pull/pendants and paperweights.
You will be more successful when you prepare. Use our site to find official survey data sheets to find the markers. Here are the steps to take:
Find the coordinates of the site you are planning to hike at Geographic Names Information System. To find the coordinates of the site, enter place name, state, and select the geographic feature from the drop down list; EX. Whitney, CA, Summit.
Go to National Geodetic Survey and enter the coordinates. Follow directions to format Lat/Lon; Choose ANY HORIZONTAL/VERTICAL CONTROL, and a radius of 1 mile. (Bench marks and triangulation station marks are preferred over reference marks. Note: reference marks have arrows on them pointing in the direction of the preferred mark.)
Have questions? See our FAQs. Need more help? Write to
or call Betty at 1-800-GEO-SITU® (1-800-436-7488)
MARKER SLEUTH FAQs
Q. What do I do with my photograph?
A. We would love to have you post your photo on our Facebook page as we are in the process of moving our entire photo collection to our page. Submission authorizes us to publish your name with the photo, and to use the photo for the basis of our product production.
Be sure to include the name(s) of the contributor(s). Your commentary and photos of "sense of place" are also appreciated.
Or, send your hard copy photo submission to:
Geographic Locations International
PO Box 18293
Minneapolis MN 55418
Or, send your digital copy to:
Thank you, and good luck!
Q. What are the different types of survey marks?
A. Bench marks, triangulation, reference, azimuth, magnetic, seismic. We will be dealing mostly with the first three.
Q. What is the difference between a bench mark and a triangulation station mark?
A. Bench marks are positions of precise measurements of vertical and horizontal (elevation & lat/lon); Triangulation station marks are positions of precise lat/lon and less precise elevation. A bench mark disk will state BENCH MARK or B.M. and have an area where the surveyor can stamp the elevation and place name. A triangulation station does not have elevation but may be stamped with a place name. Both serve as triangulation stations. That is, from that precise position, survey instruments are set up, and points on the horizon are measured.
Q. What is a reference mark?
A. These disks state REFERENCE MARK and have an arrow. They are "set" (survey term) to point in the direction of the primary mark. There can be 3-5 of these marks at a site. Sometimes a primary mark has been destroyed and a resurvey may establish a reference mark as a primary mark. In addition to fixed monuments (disks) there may be painted triangles and squares with center dots or arrows, and drill holes used as survey positions.
Q. Which do you want me to photograph?
A. The superior mark for my purpose is a bench mark, stamped with the place name and elevation. (This, of course, is not always the case!) If there is only a triangulation station mark, photograph it and send it. If the primary mark is missing and there are only reference marks, photograph these. I will add the elevation, thereby creating a mark "fashioned after" the original mark. When in doubt, photograph all!
Q. If I send you a photo of a mark, will it be produced as pewter gifts?
A. If we determine that many others want that location's mark, we will produce it when feasible. If it is a mark of low interest in general but of special interest to you, ask about our custom services.
Q. How do I know whether or not you have a photo of a particular mark?
A. The best way to find out is to check out our photo albums on our Facebook page. They are organized by geographic area.
Q. I have a photo of a mark at a well-known and highly visited location. However, the mark does not have the place name stamped on it. Are you still interested in having it?
A. Yes. If it is a well-known and highly visited location, we would produce it, adding the missing elements.
Q. Are you interested only in summit marks?
A. I am interested in marks at many significant sites--caves, light houses, important engineering sites, etc.
Q. Are you interested only in U.S. sites?
A. Our first international marker was Mount Everest, produced from a photograph of the marker contributed by Brad Washburn. Since then we have added Kilimanjaro based on the historic summit sign at its summit until year 2000. We now have a collection of symbolic marks for the continental high points. I am very interested in more country high points. I need help in learning more about how other countries mark elevations. Contact me if you can help with information or images.
Q. You used to refer to a Marks On Deck list. Where is it?
A. Broadly speaking, any mark for which we have a photo is "on deck." However, there are certain categories of locations that we are committed to completing over time. They are the 54 Colorado 14ers, the U.S. state high points and the 12 California 14ers. It's a big commitment. It helps us when you create a critical mass of demand! Let us know on Facebook.
Q. And, the Most Wanted List?
A. We have mostly completed our Most Wanted List. What we want now is to know your most wanted.
Q. My "most wanted" isn't in your collection. How can I influence production?
A. Please "vote" by posting on our Facebook page to let us know which ones should be next. Talk to your climbing and hiking companions. Get together and "vote" by posting or writing to me:
Email Subject Line: We Vote For (insert place name)
Disclaimer: While I have learned quite a bit about the subject of survey marks, I am self-taught. If you are in disagreement about the information here, I welcome your comments.