Lincoln, The Land Surveyor in New Salem

(Photo credit: Mark Bennett) The life-size cast statue in New Salem Illinois depicts a 25 year old Abraham Lincoln, clad in boots, knee breeches, loose shirt and jacket, with a hat in one hand and a surveying instrument in the other.

In 1833, Sangamon County surveyor John Calhoun approached Lincoln in New Salem as many new settlers were moving into the area. John Calhoun was not able to handle all the workload alone, he asked Lincoln to learn surveying and later offered Lincoln a job as the county’s deputy surveyor.

According to Carl Sandburg’s book “Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years,” Lincoln studied two books on the surveying topic with the help of Mentor Graham and then essentially taught himself to survey.

“He surveyed roads, school sections and pieces of farm land, from four-acre plots to 160-acre farms” in such towns as Petersburg, Bath, New Boston, Albany, Huron and others, Sandburg wrote. As the Deputy Surveyor of Sangamon County, Lincoln surveyed five towns, four roads, and thirty properties.

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