Keuffel & Esser Engineer's Chain

F. W. Simms in England noted in 1836 that the recent construction of canals and railroads had led to the introduction of a chain in which each link and its associated rings was 12 inches long. Chains of this sort, measuring either 50 or 100 feet overall, were soon known as engineer's chains. This example was sold by Keuffel & Esser in New York. It has 100 links made of No. 12 steel, and brass handles and tallies. It measures 100 feet overall. The links and rings are brazed shut. There is a spring hook (snap) at 50 feet, so that the surveyor can separate the chain into two equal halves. New, it cost $11. The U. S. Geological Survey transferred it to the Smithsonian in 1907.
Ref: Keuffel & Esser, Catalogue (New York, 1906), p. 505.
F. W. Simms, A Treatise on the Principal Mathematical Instruments (Baltimore, 1836), p. 10.
Currently not on view
Object Name
chain (engineer's)
Keuffel & Esser Co.
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Measuring & Mapping
Surveying and Geodesy
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Surveying and Geodesy
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Simms, Frederick W.. Treatise on the Principal Mathematical Instruments Employed in Surveying, Levelling, & Astronomy; 2nd Edition
Keuffel & Esser. Catalogue of Keuffel & Esser Co., 32 Edition

Visitor Comments

Add a comment about this object

**Please read before submitting the form**

Have a comment or question about this object to share with the community? Please use the form below. Selected comments will appear on this page and may receive a museum response (but we can't promise). Please note that we generally cannot answer questions about the history, rarity, or value of your personal artifacts.

Have a question about anything else, or would you prefer a personal response? Please visit our FAQ or contact page.

Personal information will not be shared or result in unsolicited e-mail. See our privacy policy.

Enter the characters shown in the image.