Phage, et al.
I am an engineer (too), and like redneck, here's my story...
Not a double blind study, but it was a real world experience.
I was working on a survey crew in UT and we were laying out a piece of property to be developed at the foot of the Wasatch range. A large transite
water line bisected the property and it was one of the things we wanted to mark and ID. We even had an as-built engineering drawing of where the line
supposedly was. The drawing was of a much larger area and not specific to the roughly 200 acre piece of property we were interested in. We laid out
the water line according to what the drawing said and staked it accordingly.
Something didn't seem right. On an two adjacent pieces of property we noticed structures well west of where we had the line located. We pulled the
lids and they were indeed valve structures on the line in question, but they weren't lining up with anything we had located via the documents. The
line in question was transite so it wasn't metalic and had been installed before they put in locate wires (the fact it was transite pretty much ruled
that out) so metal detectors were of no use. Still though, we had some pretty sophisticated survey gear, so we attempted to put a sonar like tone on
the water itself (installing tone generating equipment in the manhole directly on the line) and then attempted to surface locate the line from there.
We were only able to locate the line roughly 200 feet away from the MH structures, not even close enough to reach the property boundary we were
surveying. We tried several other measures, all to no avail. Our confidence level in either of our two staked lines being accurate was very low
(like near zero).
As a practical measure we staked a temporary line directly between the two structures we identified (just for reference). The temporary line was as
noted well west of the as-built location and the angles were wrong. We tried everything...what to do?
Our crew chief was this old guy and we were standing at the truck lamenting our efforts, after a long while he says..."Well, I guess we could try
I'd heard of this before, but just thought it was mythical nonsense. Whatever, I thought, it was worth a shot, nothing else had
He pulls out these two pieces of brass brazing rod, each about two feet long bent into a 90 degree angle at just shy of the halfway point. He goes
about his business. After a minute or so it looks like he's found something. So I grab a lath bag, some survey tape and a hammer and go drive a
stake. I write "W-1" on the stake (lol, for "witch station 1").
To make an already long (likely boring) story...even longer... This goes on for a while. I drive about 10 more stakes at various locations. The
line he's located makes no sense at all, looks like random stakes driven in an empty field. So we try to makes sense out of what he's found. After
some 'noodling' on his findings over the drawing for a while, we come up with some possible scenarios. The only way what this guy had found would
work is if there were at least two more structures not shown on our drawing. So rather than waste more time we 'gut-check' this by surveying two
layout lines at crossing angles. If we can locate one of the missing structures we would know we were onto something. If not, then we were just
Sure enough, at the intersection of the two survey lines we get a big metal detector hit. Shovel time! Under about a foot of dirt we find a buried
MH cover. I'm thinking to myself "Holy crap, this is kinda' spooky!"
In the manhole the line is not running the way we expected, so obviously
the line has turned. We repeat the same process at the other end and sure enough we find another buried MH structure.
For whatever reason, the water line made a jog around something (likely a large rock formation) for several thousand feet which wasn't documented on
the drawing we had. (Note: We would later find that the drawing we had was the original plan drawing, not the as-built drawing.) Now all the random
looking stakes he'd found made sense.
Because the water line would need to be relocated anyway it wasn't long before the developer was on-site with excavator equipment to expose sections
of the line. I kid you not, everywhere they dug to expose the line where this guy had located via witching, they found the line! All the other
locations we'd marked were way off.
None of us knew where the line was to begin with, and our crew chief (the old guy) wasn't even from UT, so there's no way he could have been around
when this line was installed.
ETA...I'm sure it goes without saying that no self-respecting "engineering" company would ever provide engineering documentation to an Owner which
volunteered the fact that an existing utility had been located using some sort of voo-doo or witchcraft without saying as much. And this is just
exactly what our documents said..."Possible location of line using alternative non-traditional, non-scientific, methods".
edit on 5/13/2018 by
Flyingclaydisk because: (no reason given)