Sterling’s role in early 20th-century surveying


Before the widespread use of global navigation systems, accurate surveying was carried out through the systems of traverse, triangulation, and trilateration. The United States Geological Survey regularly published its methodology in the form of the Results of Triangulation and Primary Traverse.  Printed in 1910, this edition of the survey uses points in Loudoun County, and Sterling in particular, to fix the southern half of the Seneca Quadrangle in the Maryland-Virginia Primary Traverse (click image for larger view):


Most interesting is the mention of the traverse station plaque located on a Baptist Church:


I’m guessing this is the old church at the corner of Church and Davis due to the mentions of schoolhouses, crossings, and its location near the railroad. I spent a recent afternoon searching the site for a  slab with the associated tablet, but turned up empty. The Guilford church is owned by a construction company currently and the back portion of the lot is fenced off.

The marker most likely looked something like this:


Is the plaque still there? If not, what happened to it? Wherever the aluminum tablet now resides, it constitutes an important piece of early Sterling history.

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