Comments about ‘Four Corners marker 21/2 miles off? Too late’

Return to article »

Published: Monday, April 20 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

  • Oldest first
  • Newest first
  • Most recommended

With time and accuracy of eqipment may find errors like this but still the established markers should remain where they are. Satelite marking should not change established locations on land or property lines as they have been accepted and considered as legal. This accuracy may help future land structure and markings but it shouldn't be used to change established lines.


Well... I had planned on going but not now. Whats the point if it is wrong.

Move it

If the state of Utah can change all of the mile marker signs on I-15 with new numbers, they can move the four corners.


Are the official state boundaries at 37 north and 109 west? I'm confused, because if you get on the Google Earth, it shows the intersection to be in the parking lot of the monument.

(I rode my motorsickle out there on a HOT late-summer day. It was interesting. The most memorable thing about the trip was the HUGE quantity of discarded bottles and broken glass all along Highway 160, sparkling in the desert sun. I've never seen so much glass litter!)

Re: Perplexed

I've never been to four corners, but I'm gonna guess that you saw gypsum in the dirt, not glass. It's pretty ubiquitous in the region. Drive through Moab/Arches and you'll see the same thing.
And as for the marker being off, that's fine. Every boundary in North America shifts by at least a centimeter each year due to plate tectonics anyway. So even if the boundary were brought back to its intended coordinates, it would still be a little over a meter off to the southeast of where it wouldve originally been. That's why survey markers and monuments are so important. They establish a permanent boundary in an environment of imperfect measurement methods and the shifting land itself.

Rich in Orem

I've read in the past that they've had lots of issues with state boundaries over the years. For example, supposedly some or all of the town of Franklin, Idaho, is actually in Utah if you go by the "true" latitude. (Or maybe it's just a few hundred yards off, if you go by Google Maps.) However, as is the case with misplaced fences between properties, the "accepted" boundaries tend over time to become recognized by law.

(It makes me wonder whether the main road in Freedom, Wyoming actually straddles the Wyoming-Idaho border as it supposedly does.)


When the writer says the boundary was to be an "even 109 W", what they missed was the issue of which meridian system those numbers are based on. The Colorado statue says, quote

"ARTICLE I. Boundaries

The boundaries of the State of Colorado shall be as follows: Commencing on the thirty-seventh parallel of north latitude, where the twenty-fifth meridian of longitude west from Washington crosses the same; thence north, on said meridian, to the forty-first parallel of north latitude; thence along said parallel, west, to the thirty-second meridian of longitude west from Washington; thence south, on said meridian, to the thirty-seventh parallel of north latitude; thence along said thirty-seventh parallel of north latitude to the place of beginning.

Note the words "WASHINGTON meridian", NOT Greenwich. They are about 3 degrees different. Google on "Washington Meridian" and you'll see the issue.


There is lots of misinformation in this article.

The statutory position of the corner is at 37 degrees latitude and 25 degrees longitude west of the Washington Meridian. The Washington Meridian was used for a number of state boundaries and was located at approx 77 degrees 03' 2.3" W of Greenwich. The 4 corners monument is fairly close to the statutory position.

The position has never shifted. There is a jog in the west boundary of Colorado but it is to the west not east and has nothing to do with any imaginary error at 4 corners.

There have been several resurveys of the south boundary of Colorado, but all terminate at the same 4 corners monument. That S. boundary of Colorado was adjudicated by the US Supreme Court in 1925 as are all issues relating to state boundaries had no affect on 4 corners.

Boundaries are first determined in an original survey which are considered binding even if they contain some error once they are accepted by proper authority. Authority for State lines are the US congress, the Supreme Court or both States acting together jointly.

- jlw

I'm Confused...

This article left me confused. What does this all mean??? Is the four corners monument not "officially" where the states' borders are? Like...do the states' jurisdiction not legally end at where four corners are? Or is this just something that will be disregarded and the monument, although inaccurate, will continue to serve as the border marker?


Could you imagine the implications if we went around moving original survey monuments because of improved measuring techniques. Look at the legal description for your property and you will see why. Stability of boundaries is a long standing legal principal. I love how the article says there were surveying errors. I think 2.5 miles was pretty could for 1899. Also, please do not rely on Google Earth for making boundary decisions. Have a professional land surveyor do it.


I visited Four Corners a few years back and if i remember correctly it's located on an Indian Reservation. And to think that the marker is off by 2.5 miles so I guess I was still in Colorado....If this is true, why not move the monument?


For those who care the case to which many are referring is State of New Mexico v. State of Colorado, 267 U.S. 30 (1925). The Supreme Court did decide that the boundaries as adopted by the US and as recognized for over ninety years would remain the same. The dispute was "a suit in equity, within the original jurisdiction of this Court, brought by the State of New Mexico against the State of Colorado, in 1919, to settle a controversy as to the location of their common boundary line. Under the Acts of Congress under which they were admitted into the Union and their respective Constitutions, this is the 37th parallel of north latitude between its intersections with the 103d and 109th meridians of longitude west from Greenwich." So I guess that's another thing the author got wrong. Who would have thought that Wikipedia would be right. :)


I made an error in my previous post. I gave the longitude for the east boundary of colorado and not the west boundary. The same issue applies as to the actual reference being to the Washington Meridian not Greenwich Meridian.

- jlw


If the move things around what is to be done with the lost back taxes? Who would have to register to vote and what of the coming census. Oh what are we little people to do? Heck just turn it all over to the federal government and do away with states, congress the prez know whats best anyway and all these pesky state governments just cause conflict, cost money and confuse the public. Viva the Democratic Socialist Government! They can fix anything - for a price!

Re: Re: Perplexed

Your reply to "Perplexed" is way off. I live in the four corners region and it is broken glass--not gypsum! There are beer bottles lining ALL the highways through this entire area. You are a little naive.


Also the article states the true 4 Corners should be "...east of US 160 in Colorado and NE of the San Juan River as it flows into New Mexico." Actually the San Juan River is flowing OUT of New Mexico here. It then takes a short course across the far SW corner of Colorado before entering Utah.


i work in surveying. if the county surveyor says that is the accepted location that means it wont move and nothing will change. original boundry corners almost always overide what the boundary description says. so no one will change any state lines.


Where did that 109 degrees came from? I've googled the heck out of "Colorado" and "border" and so far the only things I find bear out the comments above that it was set at 32 degrees west of the Washington Meridian, which was 77-2-48.0; which puts 4 corners at 109-2-48.0. The article says it was measured at 109-2-42.6, which is a LOT less than 2.5 miles off. So what is it? 109-0-0 or 109-2-42.6???


I am SUCH a geek, completely fascinated by this mis-reporting!

Using reed303 and jl-wahl's comments as a starting point, I have drawn the following conclusions and done the math:

The Washington Meridian in 1868 was defined at the center of the small dome at the Old Naval Observatory. At the time they believed that to be 77 2'48"

This would mean the intended border was 32 west of THAT position, giving us 109 2' 48"

The current monument is at 109, 2' 42.62"

Using the GPS Visualizer webpage, and assuming a slight surveying error in latitude, it is revealed that the current monument is a mere 574 FEET from where Congress intended the location to be.

Additionally, the "correct" spot is WEST of the current monument, not east.

Of course, the argument doesn't have to end there, because where they thought the Naval Observatory Dome was in relationship to Greenwich was also off by a bit. But I will leave that to others.


You think that's crazy, the New York Giants' and New York Jets' home stadium is actually located in New Jersey.

to comment

DeseretNews.com encourages a civil dialogue among its readers. We welcome your thoughtful comments.
About comments