Monday, April 20, 2009

Deeply Flawed Tourist Trap as Metaphor

Four Corners is in the wrong spot!

The spot where four states -- Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah -- come together is actually 2.5 miles to the east!

For some reason, I find this news deeply disturbing. Someone 141 years ago said, "this is the spot," everyone believed him, they built a tourist trap, generations of Americans -- millions and millions of us -- visited and did the sprawled eagle pose, and ONLY NOW did we find out the whole thing was a sham based on extreme incompetence.

Could it be?... The perfect metaphor for America?!

Now you understand how disturbing I find this news to be.

Update: The Supreme Court says, "Never mind." So does Deadhead in comments. We can all rest easy. Now about that metaphor...


Blogger WheelDancer said...

This is a classic!

I worked for a small pool table manufacturer many years ago and they finally made that sale to a billiards hot shot. He came to inspect before delivery and discovered that they were not building their tables to spec, they were off by several inches. They ended up having to start over for this high profile customer because they hadn't done their homework in the first place. The sale didn't end up launching their company to fame as they had hoped...

6:46 PM, April 20, 2009  
Blogger deadhead said...

Actually, this isn't any big new finding, and it's a misleading news story by the AP.

The most recently revised position of the four corners monument as published by NGS in 2007 lists the marker at 36 59 56.31570(N) 109 02 42.62076(W). This supersedes an earlier position of 36 59 56.31532(N) 109 02 42.62019(W), which had been published in 1992 (an adjustment of a few ten thousandths of a foot). From some quick research online, it's apparently been known for a long time that the four corners monument is not at 37 degrees north, 109 degrees west. The AP hasn't uncovered any major scoop here.

The story could also leave the mistaken impression that the marker is not the actual boundary of the four states. Wrong - by law an original survey performed under proper authority is controlling as to location even though not perfectly performed. So don't worry - when you stood at the monument you were standing at the legal boundary of all four states. Nobody went to bed last night in Colorado and woke up this morning in Utah. There's nothing to fix, no maps to redraw.

Don't forget the difficulties of surveying rough and remote terrain in the 1800's with the instruments and techniques of the day. 2.5 miles may seem like a lot by our standards, but given that these guys were measuring mile after mile with a transit, a 66 foot chain and a railroad watch, they did pretty good work.

9:37 AM, April 21, 2009  
Blogger Howard said...

A 66-foot chain? Wow, if a surveyor were to put that chain end-to-end-to-end across the country, that would be 240,000 measurements with that 66-foot chain. And if just one of those chainlinks got kinked... [shudder]

The retraction story I linked to says that the actual error is something like 1,800 ft. instead of 2 1/2 miles. I can live with that.

5:15 PM, April 22, 2009  
Anonymous Pansy Palmetto said...

"Nobody went to bed last night in Colorado and woke up this morning in Utah."

You say that like it's a bad thing. Wait. Ohjesusfuckingchristgottinhimmel....that would totally be the Very Worst Case Nightmare Scenario Ever! For the Utahanians. Commie Coloradoninnyans.

1:55 PM, April 23, 2009  
Blogger Kin said...

I was going to say that carrying one chain would be easier than carrying four rods, but now that I she that Pansy was here, any talk of chains and rods probably won't have anything to do with surveying.

8:15 PM, April 23, 2009  
Blogger deadhead said...

"Nobody went to bed last night in Colorado and woke up this morning in Utah."

I hadn't really considered what a terrible thing that would be - ever tried to buy a decent cup of coffee in Utah? Or booze? Or a decent dinner on a Sunday night after finishing a 500 mile bike race?

RE Kin's remark - somebody's gotta say it, "Surveyors do it in chains!"

12:06 PM, April 24, 2009  

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