The city of Southfield sponsored a historical land surveying reenactment on July 15 at Eight Mile and Rutland as part of the Coasting the Baseline Project.
The Coasting the Baseline Project is a series of commemorative markers located on Eight Mile or Baseline Road. Each marker is a ten foot tall obelisk that describes the significance of surveying in the settlement of Michigan and as the foundation for property ownership in the state. Michigan was the first state in the nation to be fully surveyed using modern surveying practices. Known as the Public Land Survey System (PLSS) or the rectangular survey system, it is a mathematically designed and based method of measuring land.
“The Baseline Project will stand as a tribute to this major road and the communities it links,” commented Councilman Kenson Siver. “In addition to adding a new piece of public art to Southfield, the Baseline will also incorporate local and Michigan history for the enrichment of school children and the community at large.”
The baseline became known as Eight Mile Road and runs across Michigan from Wayne County on the east to Van Buren County on the west. The prime meridian was established at 84 degrees, 22 minutes, 24 seconds west longitude, a line drawn straight north from Defiance, Ohio. All subsequent land surveys in Michigan refer to these principal coordinates.
The historical reenactment included land surveyors dressed in early 1800s period clothing utilizing early surveying equipment and techniques to retrace the historic survey.
The Southfield Coasting the Baseline Obelisk was built through private and corporate sponsors. No public monies were used for this community project.