The Four Corners Monument

Dec 19, 2014 5 comments

The Four Corners Monument is the only place in the United States where you can be in four different states at the same time -Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah. This is the place where the corners of the four state meet. A granite and brass monument has been erected to mark the spot. The novelty of these intersecting boundaries makes Four Corners a popular tourist destination. The monument is located in the desert on the Navajo Indian Reservation, and despite its remote location and lack of facilities (there is no electricity or running water, and no telephones or cell phone coverage), hundreds of tourists pour past the admissions gate every hour because of the unique photo opportunities the site provides.

“The Monument seems to evoke strong emotions in people,” reads the guide to the monument on travel encyclopaedia Wiki Travel. “Visitors are either vastly underwhelmed by this attraction, even angry they drove so far out of their way to see so little, or they are inordinately pleased with running from state to state and having their picture taken.”


Satellite picture of the Four Corners Monument.

The Four Corners 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, starting from north, the disk reads with two words in each state "Here meet in freedom under God four states". Around the monument, local Navajo and Ute artisans sell souvenirs and food.

The intersection of the borders was first marked with a sandstone shaft, in 1875, by the surveyor Chandler Robbins. By 1899, the sandstone shaft marker had been disturbed and broken, so it was replaced with a new stone. In 1912, the first cement pad was poured around the marker. Over the years, the marker was rebuilt and upgraded a multiple times to its present form; the last renovation being done in 2010.

In 2009, reports broke out in the media that a survey done by the National Geodetic Survey had discovered that the original survey done in 1878 was incorrect, and the actual borders between Colorado and Utah were reported to be 2.5 miles to the west. What the media had forgotten was when the initial surveys were conducted, the Washington meridian was used instead of the Prime Meridian, resulting in the offset.

“We cannot overemphasize the fact that the aforementioned technical geodetic details are absolutely moot when considering any question of the correctness or validity of the Four Corners monument in marking the intersection of the four states,” wrote the National Geodetic Survey (NGS), in a clarification. “Indeed, the monument marks the exact spot where the four states meet. A basic tenet of boundary surveying is that once a monument has been established and accepted by the parties involved (in the case of the Four Corners monument, the parties were the four territories and the U.S. Congress), the location of the physical monument is the ultimate authority in delineating a boundary. Issues of legality trump scientific details, and the intended location of the point becomes secondary information. In surveying, monuments rule!”


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  1. I work in geographic information system databases, I totally get the interest of this location....if I dragged my family there they'd not get it and think it lame.

  2. I'm a native to New Mexico. Four Corners is just another treat the desert southwest has to offer. ☺

    1. I almost moved to New Mexico based on a single sunset.

  3. Why don't the white hash marks (depicting the states borders) intersect directly over the monument?

    1. Perhaps if you'd read the article, you'd know why.


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