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  • Writer's pictureDale Hill

Boundary Marks Galore!

Updated: Mar 13, 2021

Cuyamaca Rancho State Park Boundary

Last month I did a little hike around Lake Cuyamaca to Fletcher Island High Point, for a good part of the way, the trail I took closely followed a barbed-wire fence that marked the boundary of the Cuyamaca Rancho State Park property. This particular boundary is noted on the topo map as a "Grant Boundary" and there are LOTS of icons on the map along the boundary line to indicate the location of special survey marks, I found five of them on that hike.

Today I went back specifically to find more...AND I DID! Twenty Five new boundary (Corner) markers to be exact, plus evidence of one that has been lost/destroyed.

30 "Found" Corner Marks on the Cuyamaca Rancho State Park Property Line

In 1933, the current owner sold 20,735 acres of Rancho Cuyamaca to the state of California for $125,000. With the purchase by the State of California of more than half of the original Cuyamaca Rancho, Cuyamaca Rancho State Park (CRSP) was created.

The State Park now covers 24,677 acres of meadows, forested mountains, and oak woodlands. It has facilities for camping, picnicking, fishing, and hiking. The diagram below identifies the location of the Stonewall Mine Archeological Site, Project No. 940-618-8365, and a drill-down to the project area. I've included an enlargement of the 'vicinity map' as it shows the border of the CRSP. The boundary markers that I found, were along this border.

Verified Recoveries (Topo View)

Perhaps seeing all this plotted out on the topo map will make more sense. When I found my first five markers in February I created a graphic that showed their actual positions and the angle of the corner. With the sheer number of marks that I found today, that would be a bit more challenging, however, I created this graphic to show where each numbered corner that I have found so far is located (this incorporates the first five mentioned in my Fletcher Island High Point post).

Location of 30 "Found" Corner Marks Cuyamaca Rancho State Park

The red circles with the number reflect the markers that I have found, and they correspond to the numbers in the image grid above. (note: I did not orient the pictures in the above grid to show the relative angle of their respective corner along the boundary, but it should be easy enough to figure out by looking at the map). Corner number 44, the black dot, is the one that was lost/destroyed.

Finding the Mark!

One of the cool things about these survey marks is that they are all cast pipe caps, mounted on a 2" pipe driven into the ground (very likely til' refusal). The caps themselves have a depressed center circle that started out with a raised "+". Depending on the angle of the corner that was being monumented, the surveyor would chisel off all or some of the raised cross to create the appropriate angle. If the represented corner wasn't an even 90º or 180º, then the correct line would be stamped onto the cap.

Unlike most survey markers, the lettering identifying the agency (State of California, Department of the Interior, Division of Parks) is raised as opposed to stamped in. Additionally, all but four of the marks that I located today were stamped with their sequential number on the boundary line (running counterclockwise or East to West).

Some marks were easier to find than others, and of course, after a while, I developed a good sense of how the marks were set and which fence poles were 'witness stakes'. I was about halfway through my morning's recoveries when I found my first mark that was buried, so some of the earlier marks that I was unable to locate may have simply been buried. I'll be going back later to look again for those.

This video slideshow takes you through all the marks I've found so far (30) with a picture of the general area and a close-up of the mark. You'll note that some were super easy to locate (even from a distance) while others required some work.

Number 44 - Lost/Destroyed

There are three general categories to identify the status of a survey mark:

  • Recovered means that it has been located, it could be badly damaged, but it exists where it's supposed to be.

  • Lost/Destroyed means that either that a marker had to be removed (and returned to the NGS or issuing agency) due to impending construction or similar circumstances, or it has obviously been physically removed or is damaged beyond reasonable recognition.

  • Unable to Locate simply means the mark could not be found where it was supposed to be, this doesn't necessarily mean it's been lost or destroyed, perhaps it's buried or the coordinates to locate it are incorrect.

Marker Number 44 is pretty much damaged beyond recognition and (in my book) qualifies as Lost/Destroyed. The coordinates for this marker are almost exactly where the map legend has it positioned. This particular mark appears to have been set in a low-lying area that ultimately became a waterway, contributing to its deterioration.

The Big Picture (Topo View)

So this is the last piece of the puzzle, a big-picture view of the boundary that is marked with all these cool marks I've been hunting, and my plan to recover the remaining 7 in red. (I still have to go back to where I was earlier today to look one more time for the 9 I couldn't find)

I am going to try and locate the original survey (if it's available) to check my work, but based on what I've found so far, and what I can extrapolate, there are a total of 54 markers along the CRSP boundary.

Cuyamaca Rancho State Park Boundary - Overview

Anomalies that I've found so far: There is no #1 marker (it would theoretically be placed between #53 and #2, a relatively short distance from the Trout Pond parking lot, up the hill across the 79. I spent some time today looking for signs of a marker along that line, but there was none (who knows, it could have been destroyed when the SR 79 was put in)

There are also two extra symbols on the map that don't jibe with the numbering scheme, as I locate others that may help explain the difference, but since I did find 4 marks today that weren't stamped (#15-#18), maybe someone just lost count.

Remaining Marks I'll Attempt to Recover

  • Mark 4: Access via Engineer Road (0.8 miles RT)

  • Marks 3 & 5: Access via Milk Ranch Road/Middle Peak Fire Road Loop (7.88 miles RT)

  • Marks 11 (plus 1): Access from Harvey Moore Trail (9.5 miles RT) possible bushwhack to “?”

  • Mark 12: Access via Pine Creek Road 14S05 (paved) to Deer Park 14S04 (dirt) (6.63s RT if 14S04 has to be done on foot)

  • Mark 14: Accessible from S1 (1 mile RT) also 2 USGS BMs within .5 miles

Based on access, location, and terrain I will not pursue looking for the seven Boundary Marks with the yellow circles and “X”.

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