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A, Monument No. 20 on the Mason and Dixon line; B, boundary stone between the District of Columbia and Maryland; C, a Texas-New Mexico boundary stone; D, mark at the northwest corner of Texas.


A. SECTION OF A TREE THAT HAD BEEN USED AS A BOUNDARY MARK Tree blazed October 20, 1873; section cut July 20, 1909.

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and Dixon determined the latitude of this line, which they located 15 miles south of Philadelphia, to be 39° 43′ 17.6". That they were skilled and did their work carefully is shown by the fact that by the resurvey, made 130 years later with modern instruments and methods, the position found for the line at the northeast corner of Maryland differed only 2.3" (180 feet) from that determined by them. The later position is 39° 43′ 19.91". (See p. 126.)

Mason and Dixon began work on this line in 1763 but were stopped by Indians in 1767, after having run the line about 244 miles west of the Delaware (230 miles 18 chains 21 links from the northeast corner of Maryland) and thus not quite finishing the work as planned, although it has since been ascertained that they had run about 30 miles beyond the northwest corner of Maryland. The original stones for 5-mile marks on this line were carved in England from oölitic limestone; Lord Baltimore's coat of arms was shown on the Maryland side and the Penn arms on the Pennsylvania side. (See pl. 9, A.) Intermediate milestones were smaller and were marked "M" and "P" only, on opposite sides.

Because of the removal of the stone at the northeast corner of Maryland and for other reasons, it was deemed desirable to resurvey and re-mark the State boundaries in that locality; consequently Maryland (in 1846), Delaware (in 1847), and Pennsylvania (in 1849) authorized the appointment of commissioners to undertake the task. An Army officer was delegated by them to make the surveys, which were completed in 1850. In the resurvey of the arc boundary and of the adjacent lines the surveyor in charge unfortunately disregarded "the well-known rule that an actual line upon the ground is to be preferred to the written description of the same line in a deed." He changed the position of the arc boundary as marked in 1701 and assigned to Pennsylvania the triangular strip 32 miles in length (about 840 acres in area) west of the arc boundary, east of Maryland and south of the Mason and Dixon line, which had previously been assumed to belong to Delaware. This survey was approved by the commissioners from the three States, but no formal action regarding it appears to have been taken by the State legislatures.


In 1889 and 1900 the Legislatures of Pennsylvania and Maryland authorized the appointment of a joint commission to "ascertain and re-mark" the boundary between the two States. The field work for this survey was commenced in 1900 and completed in 1903. No changes in the line as run by Mason and Dixon were made; straight lines were run between original monuments, and many new stones

For report of the surveyor see Delaware Senate Jour. for 1851, pp. 56–109. of the report and a map are filed in the Maryland Land Office at Annapolis.


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were set on the lines thus established. (See pl. 3, D.) The report of the commission, dated January 25, 1907, was published in 1908 by authority of the Legislature of Maryland and in 1909 by Pennsylvania. These volumes contain a description of each of the 225 boundary monuments, including many of the original stones that were repaired and reset; also a bibliography of manuscripts and documents relating to the line, with more than 2,000 entries.

Positions for a dozen or more points on the Mason and Dixon line have been determined by the United States Geological Survey, some of which are as follows:

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In 1889 the Legislatures of Delaware and Pennsylvania authorized the re-marking of the boundary between the two States. The commissioners agreed that the northern boundary of Delaware should run due east from the northeast corner of Maryland to a point 12 miles from the New Castle courthouse and thence follow a curved line passing through as many boundary marks of the 12-mile circle of 1701 as could be identified. The resurvey was made, and 46 marks were set on the arc boundary in 1892-93. The triangular tract assigned to Pennsylvania by the commissioners of 1849 thus reverted to Delaware. The report of the commission and the line as marked by it were "accepted, approved, and confirmed" by the Legislature of Pennsylvania by act of June 22, 1897,10 but were not formally accepted by the Legislature of Delaware until March 28, 1921. The assent of Congress to the action of the States was given on June 30, 1921. The land part of the Pennsylvania-Delaware line as determined by this survey is 22.87 miles in length.


Commissioners from Virginia and Pennsylvania agreed in 1779 that the boundary between those States should be fixed as follows: 12

That the line commonly called Mason's and Dixon's line be extended due west five degrees of longitude to be computed from the river Delaware, for the southern boundary of Pennsylvania; and that a meridian drawn from the western extremity thereof to the northern limits of the said states, respectively, be the western boundary of Pennsylvania forever.

For a report of this survey and a historical sketch of the Mason and Dixon line see U. S. Coast and Geodetic Survey Rept. for 1893, pt. 2, pp. 177-222. 10 Pennsylvania laws for 1897, p. 183.

11 42 Stat. L. 104.

12 Pennsylvania Sec. Internal Affairs Rept. for 1887, p. 293. There is a separate volume of boundary maps accompanying this report. Hening, W. W., Virginia Stat. L., vol. 10, pp. 519-537, 1822.

In order to locate the boundaries as thus described observations of the eclipses of Jupiter's satellites were made in 1784 at Wilmington and at a point estimated to be 5° of longitude west of the Delaware River. While this work was being done the Mason and Dixon line was extended westward by commissioners from Virginia (one of whom was Andrew Ellicott) and from Pennsylvania, and a point was marked for the southwest corner of Pennsylvania, which the astronomic computations showed should be a little more than 12 miles east of the assumed position, where the observatory had been placed. From the southwest corner of Pennsylvania the meridian boundary was run to the north side of the Ohio River. Between the Ohio and Lake Erie the line was surveyed and marked in 1785 by another commission.

The southern part of the west boundary was again surveyed and marked in 1883 by commissioners representing the two States. The survey was commenced at the Ohio, and the line was run south to the southwest corner of Pennsylvania, a measured distance of a little more than 632 miles. Twenty-three of the old monuments were found, and 48 new ones were established. Astronomic positions of several marks on this boundary were determined in 1883 in connection with the resurveys. Two of these positions are as follows: Southwest corner of Pennsylvania, latitude 39° 43′ 18.2", longitude 80° 31′ 08.2"; near Smiths Ferry on the Ohio River, latitude 40° 38' 27.2", longitude 81° 31′ 07.5".

The Ohio-Pennsylvania boundary was resurveyed and re-marked between 1878 and 1882, commencing at a granite monument 6 feet high and 3 feet square at the base, which was erected by the commissioners at a point 2,400 feet south of the edge of Lake Erie. The position of this monument is latitude 41° 58′ 15.31", longitude 80° 31′ 10.40" (standard datum). From this point the line was run south to the Ohio River, a distance of 92 miles.13

The monument established in 1785 on the north bank of the Ohio in the west boundary of Pennsylvania is of considerable historical importance, for it marks the point from which the first surveys for dividing public land in the United States into ranges and townships were commenced.14 This general system of surveys.

15 For other details concerning the survey of the west boundary of Pennsylvania see Pennsylvania Sec. Internal Affairs Rept. for 1883, which contains a description of each mark and a plat of the line; see also report for 1887. A historical sketch of the original surveys of the west boundary of Pennsylvania of 1785 and 1786, the report of the resurvey of the Ohio part of this line in 1878 to 1882, descriptions of the boundary stones, and plats of the line were published by the State of Ohio in 1883 (Report of the joint commission appointed by the States of Pennsylvania and Ohio to ascertain and re-mark the boundary line between said States as it was originally established, Columbus, 1883). 14 See plat of the seven ranges of townships, Ohio Surveys, 1785-1787; U. S. General Land Office file No. 57, Ohio; Peters, W. E., Ohio lands and their subdivisions, pp. 33 and 67, Athens, Ohio, 1918; and Sherman, C. E., Original Ohio land subdivisions, ch. 14, Columbus, 1925,

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