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Historic Preservation Board


HISTORIC PRESERVATION GRANTS
Deadline May 1, 2014


A MOMENT IN HISTORY
1N1E.jpg
Initial Point
The Big Bang Theory suggests the universe blinked into existence from a singularity, a single point, and rapidly expanded from there to form the current celestial state that we presently situated. The single point is theorized as an infinitely pressurized and dense place, in which energy rapidly expanded forth from in an extremely short period of time. In 1862, with the completion of the Mullan Road, the intensification of the Civil War, the decline of the California, Colorado, Nevada, and Idaho gold rushes, and the discovery of placer gold at Grasshopper Creek, Montana was on the verge of its own explosive expansion. With the arrival of tens of thousands of miners, not to mention those mining the miners, camps and shanty towns sprung in almost immediately. Local authorities (where any existed) did their best to keep track of mining claims and town plots through the metes and bounds method, utilizing compass angles and distances from local geographic points to delineate property boundaries. While this worked on a small, local scale, for town plats and mining claims, it was not sufficient for the widely dispersed agricultural communities that were beginning to lay claim to ranches and farms in the wide Montana river valleys. In order for these settlers to gain official title of these lands, they needed an official and widespread governmental land survey, and they needed it soon.
In May of 1867, General Solomon Meredith of the Land Office of the Territory of Montana was instructed by the U.S. General Land Office to find the Initial Point, the singular point from which all of the state’s Townships, Ranges, and Sections could be laid from. In one of the many letters the General Land Office received regarding the urgent matter was the suggestion to put the Initial Point on Beaverhead Rock, the landmark which was recognized by Sacagawea during the Corps of Discovery expedition in 1805. Deciding this was a good place to start, Meredith hired two experience civil engineers, Colonel Walter de Lacy and Benjamin Marsh, and they proceeded with their survey equipment to Beaverhead Rock to set the initial point. Once they arrived and took in the landscape from this point; however, it soon became apparent that the lines running in the cardinal directions would very soon hit high and treacherous mountain territory, making the survey much more difficult and less accurate. The surveyors quickly decided a better location was needed, and the group moved on to Virginia City and then up the Madison Valley in order to determine where a satisfactory origin point could be found. From a southern point in the valley, they observed a line in which they could see north for approximately 30 miles, without obstruction. Following this line, the came to the town site of Willow Creek, and from there they spied a prominence just to the southwest of town. Upon climbing this hill, they decided this was spot would be the Initial Point for the survey of the Montana Territory. In his letter to the Department of Interior on November 4, 1867, Colonel de Lacy wrote:
“I would here remark that I have been in this Territory since 1859, when I came as Civil Engineer with Lieut. Mullan's Military Wagon Road Expedition, and that I have since visited and explored many parts of the Territory from the Bitter Root to the Big Horn River, and I can conscientiously say that there is no other part of the Territory where the same uninterrupted length of the Meridian and Base Line could have been secured.
This has since been proved very conclusively by the survey of those lines of Prof. Marsh. I would also remark that having inspected this work in the field I have never seen it equalled (sic) for the accuracy and thoroughness, and fidelity of the work to the manual instructions.
I would also remark that the Meridian and Base Line as now located will accomodate (sic) a larger scope of the agricultural and mineral interests than could be done in any other part of the country.”
At the Initial Point, a cross was chiseled into the ground, marking the singular point where north, south, east, and west would spring forth like subatomic particles, forming the invisible boundaries between Townships, Ranges, and Sections that slowly transformed Montana into the space we know today. For their part, the men from widely divergent backgrounds, Meredith, Marsh, and de Lacy left a figurative, yet permanent stamp on the state. However, it was de Lacy who continued to leave his literal stamp on many of the early General Land Office Maps of Montana as a land surveyor for the Surveyor General before becoming a professor of civil engineering in Helena, as well as their city engineer, and an active charter member of the Montana Historical Society.
The next meeting of the HPBGC will be changed to June 2 at 5:30 in room 301.  The regular meeting on May 19 is cancelled.   At this time we will review all grant applications.
UPCOMING MEETING SCHEDULE: (All meetings are at 5:30 unless otherwise noted.)

June 2
Courthouse Conference Room 301
July and August - TBA
Courthouse Conference Room 301
September 15
Courthouse Conference Room 301
October 20
Courthouse Conference Room 301
November 17
Courthouse Conference Room 301
December - TBA
Courthouse Conference Room 301
2013-2014 Goals click here
Grant Application information click here

Board Member
Term Expiration
Sally Broughton (President)
July 2015
Barry Sulam
July 2016
Shane Hope
July 2016
Renee Koenig
July 2015
Brad O'Grosky
July 2016
Albert Koenig
July 2016
Jere Walters
July 2016
Lillian Thiesen
July 2015
Jeff Copeland
July 2016
Bobbi Clem
July 2015
Mary Ellen Fitzgerald
July 2016
County Commission Representative
N/A
 
 
 
 
 
 
Link to Headwaters Area Historical Society
Link to Gallatin Historical Society
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Gallatin County, Montana
311 West Main Street
Bozeman, MT 59715