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Mason & Dixon's original instrument being restored

Tuesday, December 2, 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Burk Cornelius
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The most historically significant surveying instrument in America, Mason & Dixon's astronomical transit, used on the five-year colonial survey of Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania following the French & Indian War is being restored to its full original condition. 

A masterpiece of science and technology by English instrument-maker John Bird in 1760, all that remains today of Mason & Dixon's "‘Transit and Equal Altitude Instrument," are its deteriorated telescope, trunnions and striding level. The instrument was last used in the field by David Rittenhouse and Andrew Ellicott in western Pennsylvania in 1784.

At least $25,000 must be raised from private sources to cover the cost for this restoration. A non-profit NPS support group, The Friends of Independence National Historical Park, has been trying since September to raise the money. They seek fully tax-deductible private donations from individuals and organizations. Click here for donation form.

Several professional organizations have made substantial donations, among them Surveyors Historical Society (SHS), the District of Columbia Association of Land Surveyors (DCALS) and the Maryland Society of Professional Engineers (MSPE). Contributions have been coming in from surveyors all across the country, but the goal is far from met.

Once completed, the beautifully restored instrument will become part of the main public display at Independence Hall. Each donor's name will be inscribed in a large leather book to be entitled, "A Gift to the Nation," which will be permanently displayed with the transit. 

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