The New Student's Reference Work/Coast-Survey

Coast-Survey, of the United States, is an undertaking of great importance. With a long and dangerous seacoast; with thousands of vessels yearly entering and leaving our ports; and with a great coasting trade, it is the duty of the nation to provide every means which science and skill can offer for pointing out the dangers of the coast. The coast-survey was founded for these objects. It furnishes accurate maps of the whole coast, including Alaska; it points out the site of, or suitable places for, lighthouses and beacons; it traces the ocean-currents along the shores; it studies the tides; it finds out the courses of the winds, the changes which take place at the entrance to harbors, the character of the bottom of the sea off the coast, etc. The first suggestion in the way of organizing a coast-survey was made in Jefferson's message to Congress in 1807; but work was not commenced until 1817. The large scope of the work, its accuracy, the quickness and cheapness with which results have been reached—taking much less time and costing much less than the British survey—have been largely due to its long-time superintendent, the late Prof. A. D. Bache. Besides the valuable scientific knowledge gained, many discoveries of great value to commerce have been made. Thus the entrance to Delaware Bay was found to be eight miles in error. Six dangerous shoals were found in one year near Nantucket, right in the track of trans-Atlantic ships and of the heavy coast-trade between the eastern and the southern states. A new channel, with two more feet of water than any other, was discovered in New York harbor. The reports on the tides and the Gulf Stream were also of the greatest value to commerce.