The Wasatch Behind: A monumental mistake
"Did you see where they discovered that the four corners are in the wrong place?"
I was talking to Uncle Spud as we sat on the porch, drinking diet Gatorade and shooting the bull.
"What's the four corners?" he responded.
"You know," I said, "Where the states of Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico all come together. It's the only place in the United States where the corners of four states touch each other."
"And it's in the wrong place?"
"Yep. A new survey shows the actual spot is two and a half miles east of where the monument is today."
"How did they make a mistake like that?" he asked.
"The old survey was made by people on horseback in 1868," I explained. "The new survey was made using the latest satellite GPS technology."
"That means that all of our maps are wrong?"
"Yep. Utah actually goes two and a half miles into Colorado."
"Does Colorado know about that?"
"They do," I said. "But they say the old border has been recognized for so long they expect to keep using it. They say nothing will change."
"Does Utah know about that?" Spud asked. "If I know Utah, our politicians will want to collect back taxes from all of those farmers and oil men along the new border."
"I haven't heard anything about that yet," I admitted.
"It could be bad for Colorado if the environmental Nazis find out, too," Spud said. "If they discover that part of Colorado is actually in Utah, SUWA will want to make that two-mile strip of land a wilderness study area."
"Maybe we could compromise and make it a national park," I suggested. "It would only be fair to give that 'extra' piece of land to all 50 states. That way Utah and Colorado wouldn't fight over it. We could call it the Wasatch Behind National Park, or maybe the Colorado Strip National Park."
"I don't think they'll do that," he answered. "It would cost too much and our federal government's Chinese credit card is almost maxed-out."
"Good point," I conceded.
"I wonder if they'll move the four corners monument?" he offered.
"The feds say they won't move it, but the Ute Indians might want to," I told him.
"What do the Ute Indians have to do with it?"
"Well, the old, incorrect monument is on land owned by the Navajo Nation," I explained. "The new location is on land owned by the Southern Utes."
"The Navajos have been catching thousands of tourists at the old monument site since 1912," I told him. "The Utes will probably want to get in on the act, especially since the real location is in their backyard now."
"Can't say that I'd blame them," Spud smiled. "Snagging tourists on the reservation is the red man's revenge."
"That's true," I agreed. "Jeannie and I stopped at the four corners monument two years ago and we had to pay the Navajos 6 bucks just to see it. And then we were surrounded by dozens of happy natives selling beads and trinkets to weary travelers. They had the monument all boxed-in by a whole bunch of booths where they hawked their wares, and a long line of seldom-sanitized porta-potties stretched into the wilderness on the New Mexico side of the monument."
"That four corners monument must be a good source of revenue out there in the boondocks," Spud said. "Maybe we'll end up with two monuments; the old traditional four corners monument on the Navajo land, and a new and improved, more accurate monument on the Ute land. Maybe a person could pay $12 and see both of them."
"I suppose it's possible," I agreed.
"And that brings up another point," I added. "If two years ago I paid the Navajos to see the four corners, and what I saw wasn't really the four corners, I wonder if I can get my six dollars back?"
"I'll give you six dollars for that goofy picture of you on your hands and knees trying to touch all four states at the same time," Spud offered with a smile.
"On second thought, maybe I'll just let the Navajos keep that six bucks," I said.
"The red man's revenge," Spud giggled.