Skip navigation



William Austin Burt receives a patent for his solar compass.

During the 1830s and 1840s, Burt and his crew surveyed much of Michigan. According to the U.S. surveyor general, Burt produced "the most satisfactory" work he had ever seen. Burt also invented the solar compass to work in areasm where minerals in the ground might make the needles of their magnetic compasses act wildly and produce errors. Burt's solar compass saved the U.S. government lots of money when the country's western territories were surveyed.

© 2003 Michigan History magazine. Permission is granted to use this content in whole or in part, or broadcast the information contained herein, provided credit is given to Michigan History.