It was late on the afternoon of November 4th, 1875. A party of men worked feverishly in dense fog and deepening Adirondack frost, chiseling into the hard summit stone of Mount Marcy, New York’s highest point. They had been working since the first hint of daylight without the benefit of food or water, pressing on to finish their work as conditions worsened. They turned their attention to setting a benchmark – chipping into anorthosite so tough that it had destroyed scores of their drill bits and chisel points.
Their leader Verplanck Colvin had just completed the final rod and level measurement in a series that had begun weeks before, many miles away on the shore of Lake Champlain. At last the height of the mightiest peak in the Empire State was determined with accuracy: 5344.311 feet above mean tide.
The benchmark they laid on Marcy in the growing darkness and cold that afternoon was number 111 in a long sequence rising from Westport. » Continue Reading.