In surveying, late 19th century, a distance of 500 feet. By this time surveying with a chain had practically vanished. In the uses for which it survived, a chain 50 feet long with 1 foot links was employed, together with a set of 11 pins. The pins were made of steel wire, about a foot and a half long, with a point on one end and a loop on the other. Every time the front chainman advances the chain, he forces a pin into the ground to mark the position he is leaving, and the back chainman removes the pin when he places his pole at that point. When the front chainman places the 11th pin, a distance of 500 feet has been measured. The front chainman then calls “out!” and records 1 out, while the back chainman comes forward and gives the front chainman the 10 pins he has picked up.
This process is repeated until the point to which the measurement is to be made is reached. The total distance traversed, in feet, is then the number of outs times 500; plus 10 minus the number of pins the front chainman is holding, times 50; plus the number of links up the final point times 1 foot.
E. N. Zern, editor.
Coal Miners' Pocketbook. 12th edition.
New York: McGraw-Hill, 1928.
Apparently by a similar process, but at an earlier period using Gunters chain of 66 feet, a distance of 330 feet.
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Last revised: 22 July 2002.