Harley Nygren observing magnetic field.
Colville Delta, Alaska North Slope, Summer 1951
In the worldwide aeronautical charting effort of WWII, C&GS officers were reconnaissance
surveyors with the Army Air Forces traveling throughout the world pioneering many of
today's civil air routes. On the home front, C&GS chart makers provided close to 100
million charts and maps to the Allied forces. These included press runs of over 1,800
target charts of such areas as Ploesti and Hiroshima. Adding to the total contribution of
the C&GS to the war charting efforts was the assignment of a C&GS officer as the first
commanding officer of the Army Air Forces Aeronautical Chart Plant at St. Louis.
Following WWII, C&GS officers returned home to be immediately ordered to the business of
surveying and charting our nation. Many men who had spent years overseas were immediately
sent out on survey ships and mobile field survey parties. Defense projects were still
prominent as the C&GS sent survey crews to Arctic Alaska for 10 years on Dew Line surveys;
conducted geodetic and geophysical surveys of various rocket ranges; and sailed on
oceanographic cruises for the Navy. C&GS expertise was used in establishing seismic
stations for monitoring nuclear testing. In 1959, as it became increasingly evident that
the United States' environment was intertwined with the world environment, C&GS was given
the mandate to conduct worldwide oceanographic studies. In the 152 years since its
inception, the Survey of the Coast had grown from a relatively small operation centered on
the east coast of the United States to an agency working in all the oceans of the world.