GILLETTE, Wyo. (AP) - Dusty Campbell County records are yielding some historical oddities, including byways that used to be named All Night Road and Poverty Point Road.
But a county project to preserve hundreds of road documents in digital form has a practical side as well.
“Energy companies need to know if a road is public or private,” said Tony Knievel, the county’s chief land surveyor. “Utility companies need to know the width of public roads. It helps hunters determine if it is a county road. All this data eventually ends up on a map,” he said.
The Gillette News-Record reported Wednesday (https://tinyurl.com/k2l2fom) Knievel and his administrative assistant Angie Siegel are digitizing nearly 3,500 road-related documents dating to 1911.
They clean the fragile papers, scan them into a computer and run the images through a program that converts them into text. Knievel deciphers any illegible words.
Knievel and Siegel have spent about three years on the project. Knievel estimates they have about 12 to 18 months of work left.
The records show that Todd Road used to be called All Night Road, and today’s Gray Road was once Poverty Point Road.
The project has also uncovered some confusing descriptions, including this one: “The place where the Collins and Osborne Road leaves the half circle road and follows the Collins and Osbourne road down Boxelder Creek … down to where it intersects with the mail road.”
“In the ‘20s, everyone seemed to know exactly what they were talking about,” Knievel said.
Putting the records in digital form will help prevent further damage to the old, decaying papers. It also makes them more accessible, because some have been buried in a vault.
When they started the project, Knievel and Siegel encountered so much dust on the papers that they developed coughs, itchy eyes and cracking skin.
“We were both worried about diseases back then,” Knievel said, but the dust was sent for testing and nothing harmful was found.
Now they clean the documents with a retrofitted vacuum under a vented hood and while wearing gloves.
Information from: The Gillette (Wyo.) News Record, https://www.gillettenewsrecord.com
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