Stop # 11: Council House

How high are you? Check the benchmark…or not

As you approach the Council House loading dock, you will see two side door entrances to the old dining hall. Go to the second door and look down at the concrete slab in front of the door. You will see a small, round bronze plate. It is a benchmark.

Throughout the United States, permanent benchmarks are established by the U.S. Geological Survey, (USGS) and other federal agencies.

Benchmarks typically consist of bronze plates set in stone or concrete. Some are marked with the elevation to the nearest foot above mean sea level; however, most are not marked with any indication of elevation. On the one you are looking at, the elevation was worn away by the thousands of boots trudging through the doors of the Council House over the years. You are standing 2,186 feet above sea level. While that may seem pretty modest compared to many mountain ranges, these mountains are millions of years older than the Rockies and other ranges, and were worn down over the millennia.

Benchmarks are not always done with markers such as this one. Other objects frequently used as benchmarks include stones, pegs or pipes driven into the ground, nails or spikes driven horizontally into trees or vertically in pavements, along with marks painted or chiseled on street curbs.

While some benchmarks are of a temporary nature, the bronze or copper markers cemented into solid ledge rock are examples of permanent survey marks. Where concrete monuments are used, they are set deep enough in the ground to prevent movement by frost action or other ground shifts.

In the topographic map that includes OSR, this is the only benchmark. However, if you follow the contour lines, you will get a sense of the slopes you will ascend and descend on the hiking trails. The closer to-gether the contour lines, the steeper the slope.

When planning a trail, or even a road, those slopes are taken into account, and in some cases, switchbacks are needed so that a hiker does not have to go straight up or down, which is not only far more strenuous, but leads to erosion.

DIRECTIONS: You are going to continue northwest up the old Hunter Road, but be prepared to turn left and head west as you approach the OSR border