FOR SEVERAL WEEKS previous to the beginning of the geodetic operations, the numerous tourists from the north and from Europe, and residents of Naples, standing upon Col. Haldeman's long dock, saw 2 15-foot, 2 x 6 inch perpendicular stakes outlined against the southern horizon. They marked historic points along the line of the first survey that determined the true contour and ratio of curvature of the earth's surface.
From the fixed stake on the approach to the Naples dock, the stakes marked the direction of the meridian line. Standing in a long line like sentinels,
were the lesser stakes that indicated shorter intervals of space. We had conducted a coast survey; with surveyor's instruments had measured a line or path along which the Rectilineator was to be moved section by section in precise adjustments, and eighths of miles marked by stakes, for 4½ miles down the coast.
As the air line was to be straight, and as the shore line was a little irregular, the land elevation above the water level varied from 3 to 5 feet. Excavations were necessary, and much other work of similar character, to remove all obstructions and clear the way for convenient and uninterrupted operations when the adjustments began. We refer to these incidental preparations, in connection with all other factors involved in obtaining the results, to give something of an idea of the magnitude of the undertaking we had before us.
It will show that care was taken to attain accuracy; that we were faithful and persistent in the execution of our plans; that we understood what was required to determine the facts involved in the question,--geometrically, mathematically, practically, and mechanically; to manifest to the reader that we faithfully detail the entire proceeding--all of the obstacles and difficulties, and how they were removed, as well as demonstration of principles and facts of measurements.
It proved not only that the survey was made, and made honestly, and success achieved, but also to show that in consideration of the fact that it was the first attempt in the history of the world to make such a survey, its accomplishment is a marvel!