top of page

Opening Soon: Surveying Museum

A collaboration of the University of Akron, the Professional Land Surveyors of Ohio, and Historic Fort Steuben will create a Museum of Surveying within the wooden pickets of the reconstructed 18th century Fort Steuben - the only fort built specifically to protect surveyors.


The Museum will trace the history of surveying from the ropes and measuring sticks used by the Egyptians to the drones and GPS units which are now common in modern surveying. Informational panels, dioramas, displays, and interactive elements are included in the project. The Museum is a memorial and tribute to the late Thomas “Mike” Besch of the Surveying and Mapping program at the University of Akron.


“Mike was an important resource as Fort Steuben was reconstructed,” explained Fort director Judy Bratten. “He and other members of the Professional Land Surveyors of Ohio helped us understand the challenges that the surveyors of the Northwest Territory faced as they were assigned to map out the wilderness in the 1780s. And they return every year to bring early surveying to life at our annual festival. Sadly, Mike passed away in 2016, but his surveyor wife, Ann, and his compatriots have continued his work.”


Mrs. Besch encouraged students in her class at the University to help develop the museum. They have designed the exhibits and will build the displays. Bob Akins, president of the National Society of Professional Surveyors is also involved in planning and construction. Funding for the new museum has come from donations and gifts, friends of Mike and Ann Besch, and the Ohio surveyors. They are seeking additional funding through grants.


“This will be the only museum in the country dedicated to land surveying and we hope it will inspire young people to pursue the field as a profession,” noted Besch. “We will have information available on requirements for certification and university opportunities.”


Located in downtown Steubenville on its original site overlooking the Ohio River, Historic Fort Steuben provides visitors with information about the way the new nation was mapped out and organized into a rectangular system of townships, a system that still operates today. The surveyors of “the Ohio country” set the stage for the westward expansion of the United States.


“We have incorporated the procedures of ‘chain and compass surveying’ in our tours and classes,” Bratten noted. “By working with these period tools, the students can actually see the difficulties that the surveyors had. They can better appreciate the struggles that our forefathers experienced in building this nation. I know that having this museum will strengthen our presentation and be a great educational tool.”


Organizers hope to have a major part of the exhibit ready for this year’s Ohio Valley Frontier Days to be held at the Fort June 1-2. Those interested in donating to this project can do so on the website Historic Fort Steuben is located at 120 S. 3rd Street, Steubenville OH 43952 and is open daily from May through October. The Fort Steuben Visitor Center is open Monday through Friday all year with exhibits on the history of the Fort and the area.

42 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Summer Concert Season

For 18 years Historic Fort Steuben has presented a variety of musical performances in the Berkman Amphitheater. The Summer Concert Series brought new life to the downtown and has inspired other commun

Ah, What Stories the Fabrics Tell!

“Cleopatra’s Fan,” “Wild Blossoms,” “Paradise Crossroads,” and “Puppy Love” are just a few of the themes on display at the Annual Spring Quilt Show at the Visitor Center at Historic Fort Steuben that

Ohio's Fourth Grade History Pass

Historic Fort Steuben is proud to announce that it will be part of the 4th Grade History Pass program. As an official project of America 250-Ohio, it is specifically designed for fourth grade students


bottom of page