The Long Journey of the Louisiana Bilby Tower
Comes to an End With the Dedication of both the Tower
and Historical Marker at It's New Home: Osgood, Indiana

June 14, 2014

Toward the end of 2010, SHS learned of a Bilby tower still standing in a swamp off shore from New Orleans, Louisiana. SHS secured permission to take down and remove the tower from the proper authorities. In the Spring of 2012, a crew was contracted to take it down and upon arriving on shore, it was turned over to the Reynold's Foundation of Osgood, Indiana. The tower was then sand blasted and regalvanized. In the Fall of 2013, many current and retired folks from USC&GS, NGS and NOAA met in Osgood (Jasper Sherman Bilby's longtime place of residence) to once again erect the Louisiana Bilby. On June 14, 2014, the tower and a historic wayside marker were dedicated.

The day started at the Osgood Grub Company. Approximately 60 people showed up in a room that seated about 50, including members of the general public, former tower builders and observers, members of SHS and many local surveyors. Retired NGS Dave Doyle presented a history of USC&GS/NGS and geodesy in the US. Bart Crattie presented a history of towers, the Bilby Tower and the journey of the now Osgood Bilby tower. Former USC&GS Jerry Price gave a thoughtful talk on the nomadic life of the tower builders. Then, a great buffet lunch was had by all.

In the afternoon, an estimated crowd of about 115 people gathered at the Osgood Trails Park, the new site for the former Louisiana Bilby, almost within sight of Jasper Sherman Bilby's still standing home. Following the singing of our National Anthem by the Harmony quartet, the formal dedication ceremonies began. Master of Ceremonies and organizer for all of the events (along with wife, Sue) was local County Surveyor Jeff French.

Comments and presentations were given by Doug Thayer of the Reynold's Foundation, Osgood Town Counsel member DeDee Holliday, Ralph Gipson, President of the Louisiana Society of Professional Surveyors, Rich Leu, President of the Surveyors Historical Society and Dennis Hoar, representing NGS. The historical wayside marker was unveiled by descendents of Jasper Bilby, including members of the Humphrey, Michel and Stratton families. At the close of the ceremony, GPS observations were taken on the tower and the azimuth mark by Dave Rigney (Michigan) and Charlie Geoghegan, current NGS. It didn't take any coaxing to get Dennis Hoar and Russ Arnold, retired NOAA to scale the tower to assist. In time, the coordinates will be blue booked and available on line.

    To read the text on the plaque, view the PDF by clicking the image.

The Surveyors Historical Society always has its eye out for projects such as this. This one was a blast and we were able to preserve an important part of our nation's surveying heritage. Anyone reading this that has a suggestion for more projects, please get in touch at our Contacts page.

Copyright SHS 2014.