Then they couldn't agree on who was to get the best claims, so they made 24 numbers and put them in a hat and drew. No. 1 got first choice - the best claim. No. 2, the next best. When it got daylight, Ben took this crowd of 24 men down that line - the very same one I knew about.
We started down the line, but there had been two dozen down that line already. Every time we came to a claim it was all noticed up. After we passed a certain corner we ran out of these notices and out of men's tracks too. We had traveled and traveled, some twenty-five men behind me, and we hadn't located a man yet. Finally we came to the end of the stakes.
It had been surveyed two years or so before, and we had been following the blazed line. We went two or three miles and still found no stakes.
Finally I says "Look here, boys, We've been jobbed. We're way out here and we don't find any posts. We can't write any notices because we can't put any description on them. They have pulled up the post and thrown it away so nobody else can do any business. We'll start with a small circle and then make it bigger and bigger until we find the post. Then we can start writing notices."
That's what we did, and somebody finally found the post, driven into the ground, fifty to seventy-five feet off to one side. When we found the post we found notices again.
Later, I found out what had really happened. O. O. Ort of Centralia had taken the contract to survey it. The way he did it, each man carried a pack on his back and stayed where night overtook him. He would have his extra man, Clark Peeler, look through an instrument and pick out a snag or a tree, perhaps a mile away, then he would go as straight as he could to that tree and the chainers behind would chain it. Ort would pick out better traveling and try to come out to that tree. If both came out to the same tree, the line was O.K. If not, they had to go back and run the line over again.
Then, they had so much leeway when they got around a section - 75 to 100 ft. If they were that close the Government would accept it. If they were more than that they had to go back and run the lines over, or do something to get that corner. Instead of taking whole crew back, he would send one man and tell him to move a certain corner perhaps 50 or 75 feet south and put it in the ground again. There was never any line cut from that corner.