Wearing period costume and carrying an old-time surveyor’s compass, Rob Nurre steps out of from behind a vending machine and onto the cafeteria floor at Rosendale High. Nurre, of the Board of Comissioners of Public Lands, has come as the “Surly Surveyor”, from the pages of historic field notebooks to speak to summer school students about Wisconsin’s first public land survey and the Lewis and Clark expedition.
The students attending Nurre’s June 18th presentation ranged from 4th through 8th grades and were part of a summer orienteering class. Some of the students helped Nurre demonstrate the measurement of distance using a chain and stakes. Some helped pantomime the establishment of monuments. Others inspected a compass very different than the navigational instruments of today. All the students heard Nurre tell how the first survey was completed and how its findings are reflected in the modern landscape.
AJ Wortley, also Catrine Lehrer-Brey and Cindy Rullan—representing the State Cartographer’s Office—participated in the presentation. We concluded the session by inviting the students to consider a selection of maps, aimed at demonstrating the difference between modern mapmaking methods and those employed by the public land survey.