Replica stone to fine home on famous boundary line

September 20, 2002|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

STATE LINE, Pa. - If it weren't for Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon, Chambersburg, Pa., would be Chambersburg, Md.

Gettysburg and Philadelphia also would be in Maryland.

Pennsylvania and Maryland fought for 80 years over where the line separating the two colonies should lie.

Landlocked Pennsylvania wanted a sea port but Philadelphia was still part of Maryland in the early 1700s, said Chas Langelan of Carroll County, Md., the featured speaker at Thursday night's meeting of the Middleburg Historical Society at the State Line Ruritan Club.

Society members come from Washington County and Franklin County, Pa.

Langelan's remarks centered on the two British surveyors who were sent to the colonies to determine the line between the two colonies.


It took Mason and Dixon six years to complete the survey, measuring their lines with chains attached to two poles much like referees measure yardage gained in football games.

The line was finished in 1767.

The Mason-Dixon line runs 233 miles east to west between both states from Brandywine, Pa., on the Delaware state line nearly to Ohio. Iroquois stopped the surveyors about 26 miles east of the Ohio Territory, Langelan said. It also runs north to south for 87 miles between Maryland and Delaware, he said.

Mason and Dixon laid stone markers every mile and stone columns, called crown stones, every five miles. The crest of each state is carved on the side of the stone.

The Mason-Dixon Line is being chartered again, this time by the Mason-Dixon Preservation Partnership, a group of licensed surveyors. The project was started in 1990.

"Mason and Dixon used the stars to guide them," Langelan said. "They were accurate within 200 feet. They did the best they could.

The preservation partnership's survey, using satellite technology, will be more accurate, but it won't change the historic position of the line, he said.

Two of the crown stones and eight mile marker stones are missing, Langelan said. Partnership members have a government grant to replace them, said Langelan, president-elect of the Maryland Society of Surveyors.

He brought a new crown stone, a 525-pound chunk of Vermont granite that was carved in Shrewsbury, Pa., to illustrate his remarks Thursday. He's been carting it around to speaking engagements on a trailer behind his vehicle.

The new stone, plus a chunk of the original one that was dug up, make up his display.

It will be installed at the same place as the original in Harney, Md., six miles south of Gettysburg in Carroll County.

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