History of Surveying

Did you know that surveying dates back to 1400 B.C.? The Egyptians used the science to divide land into segments (plots) for taxation. The Greeks furthered the science through the development of geometry for more precise land division and they developed the Diopter, the first piece of surveying equipment, and developed standardized procedures for conducting surveys.

In the 1800’s the necessity of exact boundaries became important due to the industrial revolution and building railroads, roads, canals, etc.; more accurate equipment was developed.

You can enjoy a full complement of surveying equipment in our Hall of Agriculture and Transportation that dates between the 1890s and 1923.

Also on exhibit, is a survey done by George Washington. Washington was 16 (1748) when he was part of a surveying party plotting land in Virginia’s western territory. He was 17 when, aided by Lord Fairfax, he was appointed as official surveyor of Culpeper County. Washington spent two years surveying the land in Culpeper, Frederick and Augusta counties. The survey on exhibit was done November 10, 1750 of land in Frederick County when Washington was 18 years old.