Professional Land Surveyor in VA & NC


Armentrout Surveying & Mapping
contact me by email:

       Office 276-728-3147         Fax 728-3153


January 2022  by Greg A.


To  better serve our clients we accept MasterCard, Visa, Discover, PayPal & Bank Debit Cards            



The Lighter Side of Surveying

There have been many "funny" things that we have come across thru the years. Here is just a small sample of some of them.

To the left you will see a picture of our Party Chief, Mike. He was surveying in Franklin County,
(Moonshine Capital of the World), and came across a working still and just had to stop and take a picture.
(shown on the right).

Many years ago, descriptions of deeds were completed by walking the boundary of property and writing a description of the corners or markers used to identify these boundaries. Almost all of these deeds refer to a tree, rock, fence post etc. However, there are some instances where you get a deed that calls for a corner to be some of the following
(these are actual phrases from deeds):

1) Thus with the line an easterly course, to where the cow stands in the field.........
2) Follow the line a westerly direction to a grapevine.......
3) Thence with the crooked chopped line......
4) Thence on a south line bearing a little west......
5) Thence on a western direction bending to the north......

All the above phrases were actually seen in deeds that we had run across during the course of some of our surveys. The phrases don't do the surveyor much good for retracing the original survey. Most likely these were made up with no survey ever made.

Then you get a deed that will give you the description of a piece of property as being:

1) All that land where the house and lot are that the parties reside.
2) All the property lying between the adjoining neighbors.
3) … a point, thence going backways a distance of 15 poles….
4) Thence with a bearing of   N 60° W ( or N 6° W)

As you can see from these examples, it would be hard to do a survey where a corner was a cow in the field.  Is the cow still there? Or the grapevine? There are also "measurements" that were used a long time ago to describe the distance of a property line or to gauge the distance of something. There was one deed that called for the "distance of 2 smokes". After doing some research, a "smoke" is the distance it would take a man on horseback to roll and smoke one cigarette with the horse walking at a leisurely pace.

Another deed called for a "barleycorn". According to the Definitions of Surveying and Associated Terms, a "barleycorn" is an old measure of length, equal to the average length of a grain of barley.

Last but not least, and honestly about my favorite, is the length used called a Railroad Gauge. A Railroad Gauge is a length of measure, usually 4 feet 8 1/2 ". This distance is the width of two horse's butts. In Roman days, they built their chariots the width of the two horse's that would pull them. Please feel free to read up on this one. Click here for more information.

As you can see, there is definitely a "lighter side" to the surveying business. Please feel free to contact us with any questions, comments or maybe even something funny that you have come across. We look forward to hearing from you.