- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 15, 2002

CHARLOTTESVILLE (AP) Lewis and Clark found their trail west by compass and sextant. In advance of the bicentennial of their historic journey, the trail is being marked through the sophisticated technology of the Global Positioning System.
The National Geodetic Survey, the nation's first civilian scientific agency, marked the explorers' trail from its symbolic start at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello to the spot where the duo first glimpsed the Pacific Ocean near Fort Clatsop National Memorial in Astoria, Ore.
A 12-inch-diameter brass survey marker was positioned at the "nickel view" on the West Lawn of Monticello yesterday using satellite technology. The spot, a little over 100 yards from the house, allows the perfect view of Monticello as seen on the back of a nickel.
"It's a wonderful tribute to Jefferson's interest in science and a tribute to Jefferson's vision of Lewis and Clark's journey," Dan Jordan, president of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, said of the marker. The foundation owns Monticello.
At President Jefferson's behest, Capts. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark and their Corps of Discovery set out from St. Louis on May 14, 1804, in search of a river passage to the Pacific Ocean.
During the next three years, similar brass markers will be placed in 13 other locations across the country where the explorers met with significant events on their wilderness journey.
The marker a larger copy of the peace medallion handed out by Lewis and Clark during their expedition was placed along the east-west axis as sighted through the back and front doors of Monticello, said David Doyle, chief geodetic surveyor with the National Geodetic Survey, a part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
"We were asking ourselves, 'Where would Jefferson have put it?'" Mr. Doyle said.
The markers will be sited through the use of the GPS, which uses signals from 27 satellites to determine exact positions on Earth.
Mr. Doyle said his agency established by Jefferson in 1807 as the Survey of the Coast was approached by the National Park Service for assistance in developing the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail.
"We begin at Monticello because it's symbolically the start," said Mr. Doyle. "At each of the other sites, we will also place high-accuracy survey markers."
The survey markers will become part of the 6,000 or more markers placed around the country enabling surveyors, mapmakers and others to accurately measure distances and mark points.
The Monticello marker will be positioned to an accuracy of one-half inch relative to the National Spatial Reference System of the United States.
Monticello will hold the kickoff for the four-year national commemoration of the bicentennial of the expedition on Jan. 18, the date in 1803 that Jefferson sent a confidential letter to Congress requesting $2,500 for the expedition. Jefferson hoped to find a water route to the Pacific Ocean, new trade opportunities and scientific discoveries.


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