Getting There…

When your "office" is outside and moves as progress is made and projects evolve, transportation is something that you think about! These two images juxtapose means of travel—from a 19th century wagon used by Coast Survey Superintendent Ferdinand Hassler to NOAA's Citation jet, which crisscrosses the country today.

sketch of Prince's Bay Light and the NOAA Citation jet maps the California coast

In the top image, Hassler travels along the East coast during his years of mapping. Cross over the continent and 200 years, and the NOAA Citation jet maps the California coast. Top image courtesy of the NOAA Photo Library, John Farley Prints.

That Was Then…

Assistant John Farley left a sketched record of first Coast Survey Superintendent Ferdinand Hassler's equipment. Amongst his sketches were several distant views of Hassler's famous "jersey wagon," here seen, according to the artist, from Prince's Bay Light, New York.

Hassler had the wagon built in 1817 to carry instruments, books, and personal gear from station to station during field observations. Specially designed to be very large and low to the ground and mounted on springs to cushion the instruments, the wagon had many compartments that allowed instruments and books to be reached without disturbing other stored equipment. It also had a wine compartment and a table that slid out for use. The wagon, horses, driver, and Hassler's use of the conveyance for personal transportation became a major point of contention between Hassler and Amos Kendall, the auditor of Hassler's accounts.

…This Is Now

NOAA's Citation jet aircraft, shown in the bottom photograph, covers ground considerably faster than a carriage, and the National Geodetic Survey's Remote Sensing Division puts it to good use in many of its projects, most notably shoreline mapping and aerial photography. Remote Sensing crews are often first responders after disasters such as the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City and on the Pentagon and Hurricane Katrina, rapidly providing aerial photography and Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) imaging for recovery and rescue efforts.

About the Images

Past Image

  • Date: 1836
  • Material: Hand-drawn sketch
  • Source: NOAA Photo Library, John Farley Prints
  • Instrument/technique shown: Ferdinand Hassler's "jersey wagon"

Present Image

  • Date: 2006
  • Material: Photograph
  • Source: NOAA, NGS
  • Instrument/technique shown: NOAA's Citation jet

Works Consulted

Theberge, Capt. A. E. (2001). The Coast Survey 1807-1867. Retrieved September 2006, from

Related Web Sites

NOAA's National Geodetic Survey