Witness Trees H

Point H: “South Shore of Picnic Point Between Sections 15 & 16”

Original Land Survey, Twp 7N, Rge 9E, 15-16 N

This is among the survey lines of greatest interest to modern visitors to the Preserve, since this route between sections 15 and 16 starts at the intersection of modern Linden and Walnut Streets (by what is today the WARF Building), runs north to intersect University Bay, and finally emerges from the lake to cross Picnic Point, ending near the modern Picnic Point Beach House. Running this kind of line was always a challenge for the surveyors, not only because it was broken up by the lake, but because a sizable portion of the route passed through wetland.

At this location, having worked his way around University Bay, Deputy Surveyor Orson Lyon recorded the following action: “Set post on a point of land projecting into the Lake to the NE” —surely one of the earliest and one of the tersest descriptions anyone has ever written of Picnic Point! To locate his post, he sighted to two trees as follows:

“White Oak 26N 13E 260” and “Burr Oak 14N 14W 265”

Translated (converting the final number in each entry from surveyor’s links to feet, and ignoring the initial compass bearing information), this means that he managed to locate two bearing trees, albeit at a considerable distance from his post. One was 171 feet away, and the other was 175 feet from the post in a very different direction.

That he had to travel more than half the length of a modern football field to find bearing trees for his post tells us that this was extremely open land in 1834, probably mainly marsh with oak savanna interspersed. Picnic Point today looks very different from what the surveyors saw, suggesting just how drastically the vegetation has changed in the past century and a half.

Learn how to read and interpret this data with the help of our page Original land survey notes for the Lakeshore Nature Preserve vicinity, December 1834.