BLM California News.bytes 
News.bytes Extra, issue 539

BLM Celebrates History of the GLO at Old Town San Diego

a man in period costume poses for an old-time photographer
GLO Surveyor Greg Hill posing for the tintype photographer.

It was a festive day at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park as BLM staff and volunteers celebrated the 200th Anniversary of the General Land Office (GLO) on July 7.  As part of the park’s Stagecoach Days event, the BLM joined the park’s living history program by setting up a Land Office counter and displaying historic instruments used by the GLO to survey 1.8 billion acres of public lands.  The event was held at the park’s historic Seeley Stables, also home to a pair of adopted BLM burros. 

BLM staff in period costumes described to visitors the history of the General Land Office, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Homestead Act.  Visitors could receive a “deed” to their public lands, as now managed by the BLM.  Children were challenged to try out the survey chain and earned a certificate as an “Apprentice GLO Surveyor” complete with an embossed GLO seal.

Hundreds of visitors, many from around the world, stopped by the GLO display and also learned about the BLM’s current role in managing the public lands of the west.  The activity was one of many held by BLM around the country to celebrate the bicentennial of the GLO and the 150th anniversary of the Homestead Act. 

The BLM staff at the event were Greg Hill, Barbara Croonquist, and JoAnn Schiffer-Burdett from the California Desert District Office; and Joyce Schlachter from the Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office. 

three women in pioneer dress speak to visitors 
Barbara Croonquist, Joyce Schlachter, and JoAnn Schiffer-Burdett provided information to visitors.

a man in old-timey outfit speaks with visitors to an information booth
Greg Hill answers questions about the GLO.

a family holds an old-fashioned document with an old seal
A family receives deeds to their public lands.

visitors gather around at a survey chain stretched on the ground
Stretching the survey chain at Old Town.

a girl stretches a section of survey chain
JoAnn helps apprentice surveyors with the survey chain.

a burro peers out from its corral
The Old Town BLM burro watches the action.

a man and woman in historical outfits
Joyce Schlachter and Greg Hill dressed in historical outfits to represent the GLO.

- Greg Hill, Wilderness/NLCS Coordinator, BLM California Desert District (July 2012)

BLM-California News.bytes, issue 539 -- To subscribe to News.bytes, send an e-mail to: OR visit our News.bytes subscription page.