October 10, 1997
This installment winds up Jerry Adamson's account of the two brass cap land markers in southern Noble county.
"In June and July 1922, these two corners (described in the previous Northwest Corner) were established and a different U.S. surveyor placed similar appearing caps at these corners to monument the locations. These monuments are at elevation 8368 and 8604. Upon discovery in 1979, the four smaller monuments found a permanent home in Tulsarosa, New Mexico. The two larger ones have continued the journey. After being temporarily in the Tulsarosa basin soil, they found their way to the Rio Grande Valley near Los Lunas, thence a journey easterly to the Ozarks of Oklahoma, finally finding a permanent home on this grassy slope in north-central Oklahoma. Here they enjoy a view that they did not see for 65 years.
"These two monuments have a brass cap three and a quarter inches in diameter and marked 'U.S. GENERAL LAND OFFICE SURVEY 191' and 'Penalty $250 for Removal.' they are void of the field stamping that would have occurred at the site upon placement and then would have been recorded in the Official Notes of the GLO and listed on the property records of the General Land Office.
"One could argue that these caps are still government property. Government attorneys always maintained that the government never losses anything nor gives anything away.” Most persons of compassion and I would argue that: 1. On July 31, 1914, the U.S. surveyor as an employee of the U.S. General Land Office did with knowledge and intent abandon the brass caps monuments; 2. that for 65 years the brass caps lay at this known location without any attempt of any government official from the Bureau of Land Management Office or its predecessor, the General Land Office, to recover it; and 3. that no property records have been kept on these caps as like all other government property, including like survey monuments, specifically thousands of brass caps, that have extensive documentation as to locations and condition."
To conclude his essay on the subject, Mr. Adamson writes: "Since 1979, I can personally attest that I have seen road runners use one of these brass caps for a perch to visually enhance his ability to find food. I also have seen quail use them to look for their enemy, the road runner. I have seen desert lizards lie in the shade of them. I have seen snakes inspect them for the scent of another animal, various grasshoppers, butterflies and other insects have used them. I have seen dogs use the monuments to mark ‘their’ territory. I have seen similar monuments used by animals for various purposes, including cows and calves -- they just love to rub against them. In southeast New Mexico, in the desert climate, I have seen where cattle have literally rubbed and licked the stamping off the cap. The cap is so 'shiny' that the sun's reflection will illuminate the cap for several thousand yards.
"These brass caps, since being rescued from the shadows of the forest; have been surrounded by both native and domestic vegetation growing 'belly deep to a tall horse.' They also have been companion to thousands of animals and insects. Therefore, I would argue that these brass cap monuments have become a part of the natural domain and thus are no longer the property of the government, and no longer needed to mark man's property but are for nature's usage. They now rest after a long journey."
I enjoyed Mr. Adamson's story of the two brass caps and I respect his wish to keep their exact location vague for now. He obviously has a great love for nature and for the environment, including that which we enjoy in Noble county, as you would expect to find in one who spent his career in the U.S. Forest Service.