Marker to Honor Osgood Innovator
Officials will Saturday dedicate the newest historical marker in the state. It will commemorate the accomplishments of an engineer who moved to Ripley County in the 1890s and invented the Bilby Steel Tower surveying instrument, which eventually helped build the foundation for modern mapping and GPS.
Jasper Sherman Bilby’s marker will be located at the corner of U.S. Highway 421 and County Road 300 North in Osgood.
The state marker, titled "Bilby Steel Tower," reads:
Jasper Sherman Bilby, internationally known surveyor, moved to Ripley County by 1893. Joined U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey in 1884. He performed geodetic surveys, accounting for the curvature of the earth, for commercial and infrastructure purposes. Invented Bilby Steel Tower, 1926-27; improved efficiency and cost. Herbert Hoover commended Bilby’s invention in 1927. Bilby’s tower allowed surveyors to sight over obstacles when measuring long distances. Made of steel instead of wood, they were reusable, portable, and quickly assembled. Saved federal government $3,072,000 within first ten years of use. Used nationally and internationally for over 50 years; the resulting data served as foundation to modern mapping and GPS.