A Touch of History

While in school, History was not my best subject. I honestly didn’t care about it, figuring it was a bunch of dates, events, and dead people that had no bearing on my life.

As I grew older, I began to understand the importance of history. I could see in my minuscule little life how the present and future in many ways is determined by the past. I could see cause and effect. Knowing my own history helped me to not repeat mistakes, for one, and to use my past successes to build new ones.

I not only started to gain an interest in history, but an affection for it.

As a land surveyor I get to research documents that date back over a hundred years. However, I rarely get to touch the original documents.

That changed today, however.

North Dakota Parks and Recreation hired us to scan in original engineering drawings of two state parks. They want hard copies for a presentation, and electronic copies so they can make as many copies as they want without continuing to handle the originals. The state Historical Society has bugged them for years to give them the plans, but Parks and Rec didn’t want to part with them.

Now they can.

I scanned in about a third of the plans today, and doing so was simultaneously exciting and unnerving. These plans were drawn by hand, mostly in pencil on thin onion paper. This paper is no thicker than the tissue paper used to wrap gifts, so they need a gentle handling. I almost wished I had a pair of cotton gloves.

I also held my breath every time I fed a 24×36 sheet into the scanner. I feared every time I would feed it in wrong and the scanner would tear the plans.

Luckily the scanner is well-designed, and when it senses a fold or bend in the paper it stops. I have yet to witness it tear a sheet, but the worry still exists.

The best part is I get to handle a small part of North Dakota’s history. These plans were drawn up from 1939 through 1941. They are true works of art as well as historical documents.

I’m proud to play a small role in perpetuating that history for future generations.

Change o’ subject.

My nano word count is a pathetic 2549. I’m not worried as I still have plenty of time to catch up.

4 thoughts on “A Touch of History

  1. Welcome to the history lovers’ club! What was most interesting about your entry was the date 1939-1941. This is regarded as history and it reminds me of how old I am…I was seven years old when these documents were made. And I’ll bet they were created as a part of the Post-Depression programs to put people back to work. Actually, the Great Depression was still going on pretty strong in 1939! We had lost our house in 1937–those mortgage payments so like today. These were tough times. And yet these documents are so fragile, things of beauty, coming out of such adversity.

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  2. I forgot to mention that it’s wonderful that this piece of history has been so carefully preserved by you and your company. Applause for both! And aren’t state parks a blessing?

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  3. Misty: Our history, both as humans and Americans is so rich, I think anyone can find something to excite us. It can be as small as your community. Reading through the abstract (record of all sales and other legal documents of real property) can be exciting in and of itself. So much of them date back to when this country began and the US government sold off one section at a time to its citizenry. I know someone who lived in Illinois found documents signed by Abraham Lincoln.
    Dona: I thought the same thing when I saw the dates. That these parks still exist and thrive as they were designed and built now almost 70 years ago is wonderful indeed.

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