The original elevation of Harney peak, shown by the red line, is at approximately the same elevation as the bottom of the window on the south side of the Lookout Tower. By measuring to the bottom of the window, one determines an approximation of the original elevation of Harney Peak. The area outlined in green is the portion of the peak that was removed from the south side. - Paul Horsted image.

The prevailing question is whether the elevation historically associated with Harney Peak, 7240', is correct. The short answer is "No". This is a complicated question and an answer that cannot be easily explained. The original surface of Harney Peak has been altered by blasting off rock to build the Lookout Towers. However, one can make an accurate assumption that the 7240' elevation should have been closer to 7227'.

By comparing the historical image of Harney Peak with an overlay of a modern image taken from approximately the same location, we see that the original top was approximately at the same level of the bottom of the window on the south side of the current Lookout Tower. Our measurement to this window sill is approximately 7231.68' NAVD88. This was accomplished by measuring up from the floor elevation which was obtained during the survey and adding that distance to the floor elevation.

Today's elevation of the original highest location on Harney Peak (before blasting) would therefore be approximately 7232' NAVD88. We have certainty by the overlay of the photos that this elevation would be correct to at least 1 foot. Since the original elevation of 7240' was based on the Deadwood Datum and the difference between this datum and the current NAVD88 datum is approximately 4.33', we conclude that the original elevation of Harney Peak, if the early surveyors had been correct, would have been 7227.35' (7231.68 - 4.33 = 7227.35). Rounded to the nearest foot would be 7227'. We will never know the true answer to this question since the original surface can never be brought back after the rock was blasted off.

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© Jerry Penry 2018