A vintage surveyor’s tool… The Gurley Transit

As always, if you’re viewing this in an email, please click the title of this post to see the blog, which offers a better viewing experience.

To me, vintage surveying tools are wonderful. They are, in essence, telescopes, but with a specific and practical purpose, and although quite complex in their design, they were expected to produce very precise results.

If I had unlimited space (and funds), I’d probably own a huge collection of these beautiful creations, and I would store them alongside my similarly huge collection of vintage oil cans. This would all be housed in a big steampunk warehouse!

OK, back to reality…

When I saw this surveyor’s transit, I fell in love with it, but I’m not quite sure when it was made. It does have a “T.V.A.” (Tennessee Valley Authority) stamp on it, so one might assume that it is no older than 1933, and there is a serial number which indicates a 1910 manufacture date, but the transit itself looks like it might be from the 1960’s.

If anyone knows the age of it, please let me know!

Apparently, the transits made by the Gurley Company (in Troy, New York) are rather hard to date accurately.

The Gurley Company began making surveying instruments in 1852, and they made thousands of them. They are known for their accuracy and reliability in the field.

In any case, I decided to photograph this example, using light painting, of course.

I was hoping to capture the intricate mechanical details (and the spirit) of this amazing piece of equipment.

Photographer Harold Ross' light painted image of a Vintage Gurley Transit

The Gurley Transit, Photograph by Harold Ross














~ by Harold Ross on October 14, 2017.

14 Responses to “A vintage surveyor’s tool… The Gurley Transit”

  1. Wow, you never cease to amaze Harold, fantastic :-)

  2. Hi Harold —

    I often think of you and what I learned there – principles of which I continue to use frequently.

    This image is magnificent. It’s where Industrial Age Art meets Photographic Artist. I love seeing your work. Please keep it coming.

    Send my best to Vera and John.

    Very best regards,


  3. Amazing shot Harold, hope all is well. Tell Vera I said hello.

  4. Your works is always inspiring, Harold, but this is one of your best yet. Just delightful.

  5. Amazing!

  6. I just received the diffusers and flashlight, Played with them a little tonight. Then I saw this and found how much I didn’t know about “sweeping the light”.

  7. This is a gorgeous image. Thanks so much for sharing it! I have a Gurley Mountain Transit (c. 1890) with the original box and tripod that I found in the basement of my father’s office in York, PA in the late 80s and had restored by a conservator in New England. They’re true pieces of Americana!

    • Hi Rick, thank you! Wow, that is wonderful that you found that. And that it belonged to your father. I would love to see one of that vintage… do you have any photographs of it?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: