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Table of Contents

William A. Richards

Diaries of a Frontier Surveyor



Surveyors: Unsung Heroes of the Westward Expansion

William A. Richards: Surveyor to Statesman, by Dennis D. Bland

In State and National Office, Richards Promotes Irrigation and Conservation

Strong Support From His Pioneer Family Helps Richards Succeed

Surveying Terms, Tools, and Techniques Appearing in These Diaries



Part 1   Young Man Goes West, Gets Started in Surveying

Diary, Illinois and Nebraska, 1869–71

Part 2   Challenges on the Wyoming Boundaries

Survey of the South Boundary of Wyoming Territory, 1873

Survey of the Western Boundary of Wyoming Territory, 1874

Plat From Field Notes Showing Topography and Altitudes

Part 3   Surveyors Trek Back to the Boundaries, 1906–2019

A Surprise at Wyoming's Northwest Corner, 1958

Attending to Wyoming’s Boundary Markers, 1990s (Surveyor Paul Scherbel’s campaign)

Reestablishing the Corner for Wyoming, Utah, and Idaho 

Remonumenting the Northwest Corner

Recovering the Wyoming-Montana-Idaho Corner


Restoring the Southwest Corner Monument

Part 4  Exploring and Homesteading in Wyoming’s Bighorn Basin

Diaries mention most early settlers of the Nowood country, and numerous footnotes shed light on them and their history


Diary, Exploration of the Basin, 1884

Diary, Return to the Basin, 1885

Part 5   Related Letters and Stories

Richards’s Letter to His Wife, 1885

A Close Call as Wyoming Surveyor General, 1891

Richards’s Letter to President Ulysses S. Grant, 1870

Hunting and Other Stories of W. A. Richards:


A Night Shot at Ephraim


Traveling Under Difficulties 

My Best Shot

A Remarkable Shot

Wild Fight for Life

Hunting a Buffalo Bull

Pinchot Recalls One of Richards’ Stories

Part 6   Appendix

Richards’ Surveys in Nebraska, 1869–1875

Maps and contract details by Gene A. Thomsen, a Nebraska deputy surveyor and historian

Instruments Listed in the Field Notes of the 1873 and 1874 Boundary Surveys

Essays by Dr. Herbert W. Stoughton

Dr. Stoughton is a Wyoming surveyor who has overseen surveying and mapping projects throughout the world, and frequently consulted throughout the United States on 17th through 20th century historical surveying matters.

Flagstaffs, Stadia Rods, and Other Sighting Targets

Classical Spherical Trigonometry and Surveying for Latitude


Mound Building

The Tangent-Offset Method for Surveying a Parallel of Latitude

Astronomical Azimuth Observations/Determinations

Zenith Telescope

Ocular Micrometer

Sources and Notes


Available at some Wyoming public libraries and bookstores, with more being added.

$26.95 list price, $19.95 if you order from this website

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