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PRESS RELEASE - April 22, 2009

four corners four corners

CONTACT: Rick Abasta, Media Representative
Phone: 928-871-6647
Email: rick@navajonationparks.org

Four Corners Monument still the legally recognized landmark despite reports

WINDOW ROCK-In 1964, Navajo Parks and Recreation Department was established to protect, preserve and manage tribal parks for the enjoyment of future generations.

One of the parks operated by NPRD is Four Corners Monument, located six miles north of Teec Nos Pos, Ariz.

Recent news reports have indicated the site of Four Corners Monument is inaccurate and off by as much as 2.5 miles, according to data from the National Geodatic Survey.

The reports are false, said Ray Russell, director of NPRD.

“The present location of the monument is correct according to the law that was in effect at the time of the surveys, back in the 1860s,” Russell said.

The Four Corners Monument was first surveyed by E. N. Darling in 1868. Darling’s location was marked by a sandstone marker.

Darling’s survey was done in error and corrected by a later survey by Chandler Robbins.

Today, a granite and brass marker indicates the intersection of the four states.

The location of the monument is 36 degrees, 59 minutes, 56.31532 seconds north latitude and109 degrees, 2 minutes, 42.62019 seconds west longitude.

The last reading is consistent with the 32nd meridian west of Washington.

“Those surveys established the 32nd meridian west of Washington as the boundary between Arizona and New Mexico territories,” Russell said. “The Bureau of Land Management cadastral survey confirmed the location using this description.”

Colorado is the oldest of the four states, established Aug. 1, 1876. Utah followed on Jan. 4, 1896. New Mexico found statehood on Jan. 6, 1912 and Arizona soon after on Feb. 14, 1912.

Recent GPS readings have pointed the location of the monument to be east of U.S. 160 in Colorado and northeast of the San Juan River as it flows out of New Mexico into Colorado, then to Utah before flowing back into Lake Powell.

According to their measure, the monument is anywhere from 1,800 feet to 2.5 miles off.

“In 1868, GPS technology was not available to surveyors. According to the U.S. Supreme Court, the current location is the legal location of the Four Corners,” Russell said.

The NPRD is supported in its position by the Colorado Bureau of Land Management, which says the current location is legitimate.
Because the new readings used to pinpoint the location of the monument did not account for the fractional degree offset (03 minutes, 2.3 seconds) between Prime Meridian and Washington Meridian, the location cited was inaccurate.

The whole degree latitude and longitude readings from recent media reports are untrue, said Steven Hall of the Colorado BLM on Wednesday.

“We’ve been having a hard time explaining to people this discrepancy is something everyone knew for the past 100 years,” Hall said. “What they don’t understand is the monument has been established by the states and U.S. Supreme Court.

“A 1925 Supreme Court decision firmly established that monument as the location (of the Four Corners),” he added, referring to New Mexico v. Colorado, 267 U.S. 30 (1925).

The Four Corners Monument is a popular tourist spot on the Navajo Nation.

Hall encouraged travelers to continue visiting and said, “We just want them to feel safe that they are indeed touching all four states at the right location.”

The NPRD director agrees.

“We will continue to provide the best experience for tourists wanting to see four states at once,” Russell said.

Information: www.navajonationparks.org

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