Thursday, October 24, 2013

HOW COOL IS THIS?????????????

They found the "Potomac Stone"!!!!

On June 20, 1632, Charles I, King of England, made a land grant in North America to Cecilius Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore, which became the Province (later the state of) Maryland. This grant set the boundary of Maryland at the low-water mark of the southern bank of the Potomac River.

On September 27, 1688, King James II made a land grant in North America to Thomas Colepeper, 2nd Baron Colepeper, which became the Colony of (later the state of) Virginia. This grant designated "the Potomac River" as the boundary of Virginia.

Virginia and Maryland agreed that their southern boundary would extend to the "headwaters" of the Potomac. From there, Maryland's boundary would extend on a north-south line to the border with Pennsylvania.

But where was the Potomac River? It's pretty easy to determine its course to about Cumberland. But after that, the river looks no different than any other stream. And there are lots and lots of streams up there!! Which of them was the "true" headwaters of the Potomac River??

At the time, no one realized that the Potomac River split into a North Branch and South Branch just east of Green Spring, West Virginia. Worse, the South Branch extended westward for many more miles than the North Branch.

In 1746, Thomas Fairfax, 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron, sent a party of surveyors to find the headwaters of the Potomac River. On October 23, 1746, they located what they believed to be the headwaters at what is now Fairfax Stone Historical Monument State Park. They carved the letters "Ffx" and Lord Fairfax's coronet into a large pyramidal rock and placed it at the center of these headwaters. Francis Deakins was appointed surveyor to establish the north-south boundary, what became known as the "Deakins line." Unfortunately, the Deakins line was not straight, and it was not a true (astronomical) meridian but rather a magnetic meridian that drifted to the east.

On October 12, 1891, the state of Maryland filed suit against the state of West Virginia (created in 1861 during the Civil War) to settle the boundary dispute. By now, the South Branch had been determined to be the main source of the Potomac River, and Maryland began to claim the South Branch as its true southern boundary. In 1897, the state of Maryland appointed a team of surveyors to locate the headwaters of the South Branch of the Potomac River. A marker named the "Potomac Stone" was placed there, and a new survey line north to the Pennsylvania border established, which Maryland claimed as its new border.

In Maryland v. West Virginia, 217 U.S. 1 (1910), the U.S. Supreme Court held that the true border was the one most accepted through history. Neglect to regain possession indicates the original owner's intent to relinquish the land, the court said. Even if Maryland's claim was true, it would upset more than 150 years of deeds, regulation, and taxation -- and the court refused to create that kind of legal tangle.

For 115 years, the Potomac Stone lay forgotten.

In 2012, however, a group of surveyors and amateur historians decided to go find it. It took them two years! The original surveyor's documentation contained small errors, springs and streams had dried up and new ones formed, the South Potomac's course had changed slight, and erosion and farming had created new landforms.

On August 18, 2012, the surveyors located the Potomac Stone -- almost buried, tipped over into the creek, but still in great shape. It had not been touched in 115 years!!!!!

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