Sunday, May 20, 2018

A Walk to the Top of Taum Sauk Mountain - The Highpoint of Missouri

Taum Sauk Mountain, Taum Sauk Mountain State Park, Missouri
October 14, 2016

The Mina Sauk Falls trail head starts at a graveled parking lot,
making it a short walk to the top of Taum Sauk Mountain.

The Taum Sauk Mountain highpoint is on the way to Mina Sauk Falls.

A 1,000-foot long concrete sidewalk leads you from the parking lot to the Missouri highpoint.

At the end of the sidewalk is the highest point of natural elevation in the state of Missouri.

"Climb" is not the most accurate verb describing
how you get to the top of Taum Sauk Mountain.

The highpoint of Missouri has a boulder, marble tablet,
trail register, and a bench to rest after the "climb".

In 1991 the Missouri Association of Registered Land Surveyors identified the top of Taum Sauk Mountain as the highest elevation of Missouri at 1,772.68 feet above mean sea level.

Google aerial image of the highpoint of Missouri (blue diamond) on top of Taum Sauk Mountain, showing the route of the sidewalk from the parking lot to the highpoint.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

A Tripoint by the Side of the Highway

Southwest City, Missouri
October 15, 2016

The AR-MO-OK Tripoint
The location where the boundaries of the states of Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma meet is an easy place to get to. It is next to a highway with three numbers — Oklahoma State Highway 20, Arkansas Highway 43, and Missouri Route 43 — and across from the Corner Stone Station and convenience store.

Since it was easy to get to the tripoint, I will take the easy route in providing some facts about this state tripoint.
  • This state tripoint was officially established in 1907 when Oklahoma was admitted as a state.
  • The roots of the future state tripoint go back to the early 1800s when the east-to-west and north-to-south boundary lines were set.
  • The east-to-west boundary line was established in 1819 when the Arkansas Territory was created, thereby separating it from the Missouri Territory. This boundary was set at 36 degrees 30 minutes, which later became prominent as part of the Missouri Compromise of 1820.
  • The north-to-south boundary line was established in 1821 when Missouri was admitted as a state. The north end point of this boundary line was set at the mouth of the Kansas River as it enters the Missouri River (known as the Kawsmouth) and proceeded approximately 180 miles directly south to the east-to-west boundary between Missouri and Arkansas where it became the southwest corner of Missouri.
  • In 1823 a monument stone was set at Missouri's southwest corner. Although the monument is weathered and difficult to read, you can still see "Misr 1823" on its north side and "Ark" on the south side.
  • The Ozark Culture Club in 1915 memorialized the tripoint by constructing a concrete cuboid on the spot. The 1823 monument was placed in the center of the top of the cuboid.
  • The local Lion's Club refurbished the tripoint in 1955 by adding a concrete pedestal and a circular concrete skirt surrounding the tripoint. The skirt shows the state boundaries as they meet at the tripoint with figures of the states in their right location.
View to north on Highway 43
Tripoint is on left (west) side of highway

Thee 1823 Monument Stone of the Southwest Corner of Missouri

View to east with Oklahoma is in the foreground, Missouri in the left
background, and Arkansas in the right background

Thursday, May 17, 2018

KSMOOK (Kansas - Missouri - Oklahoma)

Cherokee County, Kansas
Ottawa County, Oklahoma
Newton County, Missouri
June 15, 2014

The Kansas-Missouri-Oklahoma tripoint inside the wood enclosure
If you drive along Interstate 44 and cross the Oklahoma - Missouri border, you can point to the northwest and say that Kansas is just over yonder. And when there are three states in the vicinity, most likely there is a tripoint ready to be found. In this case it is the boundary point shared by the states of Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma, a mere 850 feet north of Interstate 44. The story of this tripoint, like all tripoints in this country, starts with political subdivisions of the United States.

With the westward expansion of the United States came the further subdividing of America. It only takes two state boundaries to create a tripoint, and the western boundary of Missouri and the boundary between Kansas and Oklahoma meet to establish this tripoint. Missourians started things off in 1817 when Missouri citizens petitioned for statehood. They requested the western boundary of the state to be coterminous with the eastern boundary line of the Osage nation.The Missouri Territory legislature in 1818 submitted a memorial to Congress requesting statehood, but requesting to move the western boundary of the proposed state 60 miles to the west.

The request by the citizens of Missouri for statehood was tangled in a number of other political issues, which ultimately were resolved in the Missouri Compromise of 1820. The proposed constitution for the future state of Missouri established the western boundary of the state as proposed in 1818. However, Congress was not yet ready to accept this boundary, and like many other things in the Missouri Compromise of 1820, the western boundary of the state of Missouri became a compromise between the boundary lines proposed by the citizens in 1817 and that proposed in the constitution in 1820.

Adopted by Congress and signed by President James Monroe on March 6, 1820, Section Two of the Missouri Enabling Act of 1820 defined the state boundaries of Missouri. The western state boundary was established at the mouth of the Kansas River as it enters the Missouri River (known as the Kawsmouth), thence northward and southward all the way to Arkansas. 

The 1938 National Youth Administration Monument,
50 feet west of the 2008 remonumented tripoint
Thirty-four years later Congress as part of the Nebraska-Kansas Act of 1854 established the east-west boundary line between Kansas Territory and the unorganized territory to the south, which later became the state of Oklahoma. The boundary was set at the 37th degree of latitude and was offset from the southern boundary line of Missouri, which is at 36 degrees, 30 minutes. Between 1820 and 1854 the political issues facing the United States regarding future slave states changed substantially, and establishing territory boundaries at 36 degrees, 30 minutes was no longer relevant. Congress in 1850 established the northern boundary of the New Mexico Territory at 37 degrees, which allowed three states to the north with four degrees of latitude each. Congress continued this boundary line at 37 degrees for the southern boundary of Kansas to allow creation of four states with three degrees of latitude each.

So in 1854 the future tripoint between the states of Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma was formed. Three years later the 800 members of an expedition surveying the western boundary of the state of Missouri were the first to find the Kansas-Missouri-Oklahoma tripoint. We had to wait another 80 years before the tripoint was set in the ground with a monument. The Depression-era National Youth Administration in 1938 built a rock monument on the spot where the three states met, or at least where they thought they met. This rock monument was discovered to be 50 feet west of the tripoint when the Missouri Association of County Surveyors remonumented the tripoint in 2004. Today you can step up to the concrete plate and place yourself in three states at the same time.

Standing in three states at the same time

The 2008 tripoint monument, looking north
along the Kansas - Missouri boundary

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Yom HaShoah

St. Petersburg, Florida
April 11, 2010

I don't know why, but I felt compelled to visit the Florida Holocaust Museum while I was in the Tampa Bay area. I previously visited several times the Simon Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance in Beverly Hills, always captivated by the lectures from survivors of the Holocaust. So on that Sunday morning I drove south from my hotel in Largo to the museum in St. Petersburg. As I approached the cashier and took out my wallet, she told me that admission to the museum today was free because it was Yom HaShoah, the Day of Remembrance of the Holocaust.