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News & Press: MSS News

Spotlight: Wayne Twigg

Friday, November 17, 2017   (2 Comments)
Posted by: Ebonique Ellis
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What is a Twigg anyway?


Seventy years ago (!) in 1947 and for Wayne’s first 6 years, his family lived in an old log house near Brice Hollow Road in the boonies between Oldtown and Flintstone in Allegany County.  Work was practically nonexistent in Western Maryland, so Dad moved them into an 1863 stone house on 13 acres in the mountains near Wolfsville, Frederick County (for $11,500, with $50 a month house payments, as he could make them).  Life was hard financially; Dad was making less than $1 per hour then.  But he was one of the smartest men Wayne has ever met, and he insisted that everything be thought out and “done right”.  There were always at least 8 living in the old three bedroom stone house, sometimes 10.  But God and Mom covered us all with love, and life was good.  Wayne recommends it to anybody.  Mom was a great cook; she used shortening to bake with.  That’s why Wayne’s not very tall.


They went to church every time the doors were open, and young Wayne fell asleep many a night under a church pew.  Wolfsville had a 4-room school for grades 1-6.  During that time, the family acquired animals, lots of them: calves; sheep; goats; rabbits; chickens; geese; ducks and of course cats and dogs.  Being the oldest boy, Wayne’s job was to feed them each day.  He would play games with the sheep to see who could get to the barn first.  Also the family burned wood, 5 mature trees a season.  How does a Twigg split wood?  Dad and he would cut the trees down with an axe and then saw them up into stove lengths with a 2-man crosscut bucksaw (a guy can learn something about teamwork doing that).  As the nanny goat became fresh, he milked two quarts a day, one in the morning and one in the evening (a guy can learn something about rhythm doing that).  The water supply was a spring in the neighbor’s pasture, from which Wayne carried two buckets before and after school, for drinking water.  When he brought crayfish or frogs back home in one of the buckets, Mom made him take them back (a guy can learn something about the paddle doing that).  In school, he liked math and science; Wayne took everything he could get and was enrolled in the Academic College Prep section of his class.  Please don’t do any research on his grades.  Most of the time, weather permitting, Wayne got off the bus, did his chores, grabbed his rifle and a sandwich and hunted groundhogs until dark.  Sometimes, when money was scarcest, the family ate them. 


Between the 11th and 12th grades, Wayne lived with an orchard man (his Sunday School superintendant) and his wife for the entire summer to help them with their farm and orchard, room and board $25 per week, $15 of which went to Mom and Dad to help out with expenses at home.  The hardest job he ever had in his life was stacking hay bales by himself on a wagon behind an old codger who drove the tractor at what-seemed-like 20 mph.


Why would a Twigg want to be a Land Surveyor, and who would have him anyway?


After high school, Dad told him that he could go to any college he wanted to, as long as he paid for it.  While working a part-time job, Wayne enrolled in the Engineering and Surveying Sciences course at a local junior college.  He really enjoyed learning about the practical applications of math and science, drafting in the classroom and surveying outside on campus.  But lacking enough money, he had to upgrade his job to full-time so that he could pay for another semester.  His Uncle found out and sent him an invitation.  Forty years later, he earned a degree with straight “A’s” (his old teachers would have had heart attacks).


Two years active duty in the Army serving in a missile battery and as Battalion Training NCO (1967-1969, Vietnam-era veteran) and he was back home, looking for a job.  Splitting wood, hunting and Uncle Sam had got him into fair shape.  So Wayne applied for a job as “Assistant Site Engineer” on a road construction project.  The job interviewer handed him a 10-lb sledge and a 12-inch wood hub and told him to pound it in flush with the compacted dirt in front of the office trailer.  He did, and the superintendant told him to report for work on Monday.  Turns out, Assistant Site Engineer was a rodman and stake pounder, but in a few months, Wayne was running the K&E transit while figuring slope staking, chaining highway curves and performing level runs for storm drain pipes.  Dirty work, but someone had to do it, that is, until he found a cleaner job as a chainman for a consultant’s survey crew and as a highway plans drafter in the office.


That’s where he met his wife Karen, who was a drafting technician.  They got married three years later.  According to Karen, Wayne was pretty slow to take a hint; he thought that she actually liked to watch him wax his car during lunchtime.  It’s been 42 years now (poor woman!)


What was one of Wayne’s most personally satisfying experiences as a Land Surveyor?

In the mid-1970s, Wayne was working as a Party Chief and Office Computer for Fox & Associates, who had been approached to perform boundary surveys of some “lost” mountain lots on the east side of Catoctin Mountain near Thurmont.  Problem was, warm-body research had come up dry; no written descriptions.  Since he was living in Frederick County, Wayne was asked to come up with something, anything.  He did the research again, skipping nothing.  Equity references led him to the dockets, testimonies, depositions and evidences of the Court sitting at Equity, among the documents of which were a court-ordered survey plat and written descriptions of the very lands to be surveyed, corner marker descriptions, unrecorded deeds and all.


Now for the good stuff: how about the worst experience?

Ask Tommy Maddox about this one.  While working as Survey Computer for Maddox & Associates in Bethesda in March 1980, Wayne was assigned as Party Chief for a 95-mile long Route Survey and Hydrographic Survey for a 30-inch natural gas pipeline in southwest Minnesota.  The crew drove 1,200 miles to be greeted by a blinding snow storm.  After settling in and already several days past the scheduled start date, Wayne and crew finally met pipeline officials at the Section Corner where the Iowa crew would survey toward the southeast and Wayne’s crew would begin the trek northwest.  “J.T.”, Wayne yelled, trying to sound business-like, “bring the surveying equipment over here!”  Ten minutes, no equipment.  Slogging through the muddy, snow-flecked field in 35° weather, he got back to the truck to discover that the Bethesda field guys had not packed any tripods or radios.  It was April 1, April Wayne’s Day.  Next time you see him, ask Wayne how he managed to stumble his way out of that one.  Several months later, the truck’s transmission failed while still 50 miles from the crew’s headquarters.  He got the job done, though.  Good job, good memories.




Where and what does a Twigg survey?

The largest [in area] and longest [time-wise] single project Wayne ever worked on was the 30,000-acre boundary survey for the USCOE Raystown Lake Flood Control Reservation Boundary, Huntingdon County, PA.  Ralph Donnelly set up the controls, and Wayne finished the rest.  While at Fellows, Read & Weber consultants, he performed much of the deed research, drafted composites and did nearly all of the field computations, boundary resolution and stakeout calculations at the on-site field office.  Back at the Hagerstown office, Wayne drafted, by hand, all of the boundary and line monumentation data onto orthophoto mylar base maps.


Boundary surveys and engineering surveys: in PA have ranged all the way up to Dolphin Township near Harrisburg and most other areas in Cumberland and Franklin Counties;  WV?  Not so much anymore, but he has been busy in the past in Berkeley and Jefferson Counties.  But mostly, it has been in Frederick and Washington Counties, Maryland.  During the last 50 years, Wayne has worked for nearly two dozen professional Land Surveying and Civil Engineering professionals, including as City Land Planner I (under a licensed Surveyor) and as Senior Survey Technician for a City Engineering Department (under a licensed Surveyor).


What kind of Land Surveyors (not necessarily in order of importance) could shape a Twigg?

·         Dick Kerslake, PE, LS, who saw potential in him and was astonished to find that Wayne’s many surveys, under his direction, were better than his own.

·         Robert E. Angle, LS, friend, brother-in-law and business associate, who worked side-by-side with Wayne on innumerable surveys in MD and PA throughout the years (and still does occasionally).

·         Ralph Donnelly, LS, who recognized Wayne’s commitment to excellence and professionalism and was willing to let him work on his own.

·         Tommy Maddox, LS, who would actually defend Wayne’s work to others (“I’ll always be grateful for that, Tommy”).

·         Bill Orsinger, LS, the nicest guy anyone could ever meet and a consummate professional.

·         Ed Routzahn (no license), one of the best Land Surveyors Wayne has ever had the privilege to work with.

·         Glenn Hutzell (no license), far-and-away the best!

·         Bob Gauss, LS, who encouraged Wayne to act like a professional in the Chapter and who reviewed some of Wayne’s work.

·         Chas Langelan, LS, the ultimate encourager.

·         Gary Castle, LS, and Tom MacEntire, LS, who agonize over each and every excellent survey they’ve done

·         Rob Kundrick, LS, and T.J. Frazier, LS, two of the most intelligent men alive.

·         Kirby Zellers, a great Geodetic Surveyor!

·         Barry Hoyle, LS, a friend Wayne is proud to have

·         Every one of the Land Surveyors in the Appalachian Chapter.  (I’m proud of you guys!)

·         And, last but not least, W.F., J.M., J.C., R.D., M.G., E.R., J.S., D.S., T.M. and a few others, all licensed, whose land surveys were so bad that they serve Wayne as examples of how not to do proper Land Surveys.


What advice would a Twigg give to a new Surveyor?

1)       A license isn’t Tinkerbelle magic; first, continuously apply and educate yourself and learn how to be the best, most accomplished Land Surveyor you can be.

2)       At least once a year (Jan. 1?), look at yourself and see what area of Land Surveying you’re the most stupid in.  Then assemble books and reference materials and study that subject thoroughly.  Attend seminars and conferences on the subject.  On Christmas Day, send yourself a card of thanks to God that you’re smarter than you were before.

3)      Always heed the advice of Land Surveyors who have more experience than you.  Take their advice unto yourself as if it were a gift (which it is).



What does a Twigg do when he’s not Surveying?

He surveys.  But if there’s absolutely no actual Land Surveying to do, Wayne will remember some accumulated materials, dig them out, re-study them and write an article or prepare a presentation on a Land Survey subject.  When you find his body out in the woods, just bury him under the tripod.


Has a Twigg seen any changes during his 50-years in Surveying?

Do bears live in the woods?  You bet!  What a great time to be alive!  In the early ‘70s, Wayne was computing boundary surveys by hand, determining bearings and distances with latitudes and departures, calculating areas with DMDs and Coordinate Method, with logarithms, slide rules and trig tables, and finding corner markers with dip needles and machete tips; no electronics.  All drafting was by hand, on vellum or linens, using Leroy pens and templates.  When EDMs were introduced, Wayne thought, “It can’t get better than this!”  Then came optical plummets, electronic metal detectors and, wonder of wonders, radios (no more yelling through traffic cones), followed by calculators with magnetic cards.  Then photogrammetry, computers, GPS and AutoCadd.  Now drones, scanners and GIS.


The only thing that seems to remain completely unchanged from then until now is that Land Surveyors still don’t charge proper fees for their professional services and so they are still the first ones in our society to be affected by economic trends.  So smart they crackle and yet not good as businessmen.  Go figure (the pun is intended!)




How did a Twigg ever get involved in the historical aspect of Land Surveying?

Already interested in All-Things-Surveying, Wayne (and Bob Angle) responded to Todd Babock’s 1980’s call for help with the MDLPP.  A 69-cal. flintlock British “Brown Bess” musket, a Gunter’s chain, an 1853 compass with tripod and copies from originals of Mason and Dixon’s own maps help to focus an audience’s attention.  Thanks to his good friend (and outstanding Land Surveyor) Robert L. Banzhoff, Jr., Wayne has not one but two suits of colonial attire.  He also has assembled PowerPoint presentations on the Mason and Dixon Lines and the Colonial Land Patent System in Maryland.


Word circulated that Wayne and Bob were available.  Since then, they have presented Land Surveying to audiences ranging in number from 12 to well over 100, most recently at Wilson College Science Center.  They’ve been presenting historical Land Surveying in various venues and in various ways, about 5 per year for the last 10 years.



What’s next for a Twigg?  Any regrets?

Wayne is looking forward to Land Surveying in the next 70 years.  Regrets?  Yes, there was one recently.  Wayne was stunned to be given an award at the 2017 Fall Conference.  Still recovering from sickness, as the award was presented, he did not have enough presence of mind to ask that all the members present from the Appalachian Chapter stand and be recognized.  That award really belongs to them!  It has been a pleasure to serve them for the last 35 years.  Somehow the Chapter has managed to survive and thrive in spite of him.


Anything else?

Wayne is fairly conversant in the Spanish language.  He says that he wants to be able to speak with and understand Latino workers on job sites.  Also sometimes he plays the guitar for relaxation when his brain gets full.  Oh, one thing more.  Wayne’s sister Karen calls him quirky, but since Wayne is inside himself looking out, he knows it not him; it’s all those other people.


Robert Banzhoff Jr. says...
Posted Friday, December 8, 2017
Wayne has been a friend since before forever, and I am proud to count him among my friends and colleagues. He never fails to greet you, is always happy to see you and is eternally in a good humor. You gotta love a guy like that. One clarification:.......... My lovely wife T.J. Banzhoff deserves the credit for those certain additions to Wayne's collection of colonial garb. She made them, I just simply "outgrew" them.......... Survey on, Wayne, for the next seventy years! I hope at that point to be one of those old guys we always used to encounter in a rocking chair on their front porch who would say " I surveyed for a while when I was younger. I held the pole for Bill Fox."
TJ Frazier says...
Posted Sunday, November 26, 2017
Well done, Wayne. I'm honored to have you call me a friend.

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