In the past, we’ve discussed the importance of land surveying and how the proper equipment is crucial to getting accurate results. However, there are times where we find it difficult to really understand certain things until we can see the evidence for ourselves. Well when it comes to this particular profession, we can think of one grand mistake that truly demonstrates how it can all go wrong very easily.
For those who are unaware, there is only one quadripoint within the United States. Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico each meet in the middle to form what is known as the “Four Corners”. Other than the Canada’s Four Corners, which was created in 1999 when Nunavut was carved from the Northwest Territories, there hasn’t been an international quadripoint since 1961. So naturally the monument for this geographical rarity sees its fair share of visitors each year. What these tourists may not realize however is that the monument is actually in the wrong place.
As a means of joining the Confederacy, the Four Corners was first created back during the Civil War when New Mexico attempted to split into two territories and form Arizona. Already divided north and south, the winning Union then decided to separate the two east and west by continuing the Utah-Colorado border down to the Mexico. All borders were defined as straight lines.
As we’ve mentioned previously, 19th-century surveying technology was obviously not as advanced as what professional land surveyors have to work with today. Though a 1925 Supreme Court ruling mandated that the border lines remain where they were initially surveyed to lay, land surveyors during that time were off in their measurements. GPS technology today tells us that the true spot where the Four Corners meet is exactly 1,807.14 feet, or 0.34 of a mile away from where the national monument says it is. Because of the confusion, thousands of tourists travel to see a monument that does not represent what it truly is supposed to, making it increasingly apparent how important proper land surveying techniques really are.