Colonel Henry Washington of the United States Army was under contract with the U.S. Surveyor General's Office. With him were Mr. Gray, Deputy Surveyor, and 11 workmen. The date was November 7, 1852.

Colonel Washington had been assigned the difficult task of establishing an initial point and erecting a monument from which an east-west base line and a north-south meridian could be surveyed. Then land surveys for all of Southern California would be undertaken, based on Washington's pioneering calculations.


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Ted Elzinga












After thoroughly checking the rugged terrain around the peak of Mount San Bernardino, Colonel Washington selected a point overlooking the San Bernardino Valley, about one-half mile west of the summit. Here he and his men erected an elaborate wooden monument 23 feet and 9 inches in height. Subsequently, 11 bearings were taken to define the location of the monument, and here the surveyors ran into trouble. They found it impossible to obtain true fixes on distant triangulation marks because of the shimmering heat waves from the valley. To overcome this problem, huge fires were lit atop San Bernardino Peak and at the other triangulation points, and the surveys were made at night.

Upon completion of this initial triangulation, Washington and his party commenced surveying Southern California. All land surveys in this part of the state have subsequently been based on Colonel Washington's base line.

Today, the wooden base and supporting rock cairn of Colonel Washington's monument remain intact, a few yards above the San Bernardino Peak Trail. A wooden sign placed by the Forest Service briefly explains the significance.

These photographs were taken in 1990. The sign is seen in the photographs but only the heading is readable. It says, "INITIAL MONUMENT".

Picture one shows Ted Elzinga standing atop the monument and picture two is Pat Miller sitting on a lower rock. The view is generally to the south. A third picture shows Pat by the monument and the view is to the east.