Four Corners Monument
|Four Corners Monument
Four Corners Monument, after its 2010 reconstruction
|Location||The quadripoint in the Southwestern United States where the states of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah meet.|
|Designer||The Navajo Nation and the U.S. Department of the Interior|
|Material||Granite and Brass|
|"Four States here meet, in freedom, under God."|
The Four Corners Monument marks the quadripoint in the Southwestern United States where the states of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah meet. It is the only point in the United States shared by four states, leading to this area being called the Four Corners region. The monument also marks the boundary between two semi-autonomous American Indian governments, the Navajo Nation, which maintains the monument as a tourist attraction, and the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe Reservation.
The origins of the state boundaries marked by the monument occurred during the American Civil War, when the United States Congress acted to form governments in the area to combat Confederate ambitions for the region. Claims are sometimes made that the monument was misplaced in the initial surveys. The accuracy of the surveys has been defended by the U.S. National Geodetic Survey and the monument has been legally established as the corner of the four states.
The monument where "visitors can simultaneously straddle the territory of four states" is maintained as a tourist attraction by the Navajo Nation Parks and Recreation Department. Unlike many other attractions based on political boundaries, such as the Berlin Wall, it is an example of a political boundary as a tourist destination for the sake of itself. The monument consists of a granite disk embedded with a smaller bronze disk around the point, surrounded by smaller, appropriately located state seals and flags representing both the states and tribal nations of the area. Circling the point, with two words in each state, the disk reads, "Four states here meet in freedom under God." Around the monument, local Navajo and Ute artisans sell souvenirs and food. An admission fee is required to view and photograph the monument. The monument is a popular tourist attraction despite its remote and isolated location. It has become something of a phenomenon for people to travel long distances to take pictures of family and friends at the monument in Twister-like poses, sitting on the disk, in a circle of friends or family around the disk, or for couples to kiss directly over the disk.
The monument is located on the Colorado Plateau west of U.S. Highway 160, approximately 40 miles (64 km) southwest of Cortez, Colorado. The monument is centered at . In addition to the four states, two semi-autonomous American Indian tribal governments have boundaries at the monument, the Navajo Nation and the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe Reservation, with the Ute Mountain tribal boundaries coinciding with Colorado's boundaries at the monument.
Media reports sometimes claim that the monument was not placed in the intended location. The American Surveyor Magazine has responded to these stories claiming the boundary surveys for the New Mexico – Arizona border were accurate. They explain that the reference point used by the U.S. Congress at the time was the Washington meridian, which has an offset from the modern reference, the Prime Meridian. This offset is often missed by those not familiar with the history of American surveying. The geography department at the University of Oregon teaches that this offset can be ignored to simplify estimates of distance, but the simplification results in an error of between 2.3 miles (3.7 km) and 3 miles (4.8 km). A common claim is the monument was misplaced 2.5 miles (4.0 km) west of the true Four Corners, within this range.
In 2009, a spokesperson for the U.S. National Geodetic Survey admitted the monument is placed 1,807 feet (551 m) east of where modern surveyors would mark the point. However, he defended the accuracy of the 1875 survey, stating surveyors "nailed it" considering the primitive tools of the day. Pointing out the achievement given the conditions, he further stated, "Their ability to replicate that exact point — what they did was phenomenal, what they did was spot on." He concluded by stating that any claims of errors in the location of the monument are irrelevant. Once a survey commissioned to establish a boundary has been accepted by the involved parties, the survey markers are legally binding, regardless of any error that is later discovered. Similar statements were issued by the Navajo Nation, defending their work in maintaining and promoting the monument. In addition, general U.S. land principles, law, and the Supreme Court have established that the location of the monument is the legal corner of the four states.
The area now called Four Corners was governed by Mexico following its independence from Spain, until being ceded to the United States by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848. The location of the Four Corners Monument was effectively set in 1861 as the southwest corner of the Colorado Territory by the 36th United States Congress. Congress transferred land previously allocated to the Utah Territory by declaring the boundary of Colorado to be the 32nd meridian west from Washington. This line was derived from the reference used at the time, the Washington meridian.
In 1861, in the midst of the American Civil War, a group of people in the southern portion of New Mexico Territory passed a resolution condemning the United States for creating a vast territory with only a single, small government in place at Santa Fe. They claimed by doing so the U.S. had ignored the needs of the southern portion, left them without a functional system of law and order, and allowed the situation to deteriorate into a state of chaos and near anarchy. The group declared secession from the United States and announced their intent to join the Confederate States of America under the name of the Arizona Territory. The U.S. Congress responded in 1863 by creating another Arizona Territory with different, but partially overlapping boundaries. The Confederate boundaries split New Mexico along an east–west line, the 34th parallel north, allowing for a single state connection from Texas to the Colorado River. This would give the Confederacy access to California and the Pacific coast. The Union definition split New Mexico along a north–south line, extending the boundaries established for Colorado. This created the quadripoint at the modern Four Corners – with two territories separating California from Texas. After the split, New Mexico resembled its modern form, with slight differences.
After the Civil War, efforts began to survey and create states from the earlier territories. The first survey of the line was made by E. N. Darling in 1868, and marked with a sandstone marker. Another survey was completed in 1875 by Chandler Robbins, at which time the marker was moved to its current location. The results of this survey were later accepted as the legal boundary when states were established from the earlier territories. The first permanent marker was placed at the site in 1912. The first modern Navajo government convened in 1923 in an effort to organize and regulate an increasing amount of oil exploration activities on Navajo lands. A bronze disk was placed at the spot in 1931. The Navajo Nation has since assumed the monument, pouring a concrete pad and other site improvements during the 1960s. The monument was completely rebuilt in 1992, and again in 2010.
See also 
- 37th parallel north – Congressionally defined southern border of Colorado
- New Mexico State Road 597 – Highway used to access the monument
Similar places 
- Canadian Four Corners
- Citrus Ridge, Florida
- No Man's Heath
- Tres Fronteras
- Triple Frontier
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