Chapter

<i>Walden</i>, <i>Cape Cod</i>, and the Duty of the Coast Survey

Patrick Chura

in Thoreau the Land Surveyor

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print October 2010 | ISBN: 9780813034935
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813038278 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5744/florida/9780813034935.003.0003
Walden, Cape Cod, and the Duty of the Coast Survey

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The first superintendent of the Coast Survey was Swiss-born mathematician Ferdinand Hassler, who directed the project from its inception in 1816 until his death in 1843. Hassler was one of the most skillful measurers in history and the ingenious method he conceived for implementing the vast survey was his greatest achievement. He devised a plan to measure the Atlantic seaboard by laying out a network of enormous consecutive triangles, the sides of which ranged from ten to sixty miles in length. Admiring descriptions of the Coast Survey appeared frequently in scientific journals and popular literature during the period immediately prior to Henry Thoreau's 1846 survey of Walden Pond.

Keywords: Coast Survey; Ferdinand Hassler; triangles; Walden Pond; Henry Thoreau; Cape Cod

Chapter.  9870 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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