I saw an interesting article, A Drone’s-Eye View of History, in the fall magazine of the Library of Virginia called Broadside. The article includes images about the board of Public Works who employed engineers to survey routes for turnpikes, canals, etc.
A Drone's Eye View of History
"Buried like gold nuggets inside the Library of Virginia’s extensive Board of Public Works Collection are little leather-bound field notebooks filled with historical information on Virginia communities and landscapes. Established in 1816 to promote the construction of internal improvements, the BPW employed engineers to survey routes for turnpikes, canals, and railroads in all corners of the state, but chiefly its mountainous western portion through which Virginia producers hoped to connect to the vast markets of the American interior. The BPW engineers jotted down survey measurements in field notebooks, information vital to calculating grades and distances, but they also sketched meticulous maps of the terrain they traversed. Farms, mills, ironworks, camp meeting grounds, and even sheds and fences were observed and noted."