If you’re like me and you have been working towards a goal of visiting every state in America, then Four Corners is an easy way to check off four states all at once. These are the only state boundaries that meet at two intersecting lines, allowing Colorado, Utah, New Mexico ,and Arizona to meet in a single point. Four Corners is pretty much off the beaten path, several hours from any interstate highways within the Navajo Nation and Ute Mountain Ute Tribe Reservation. A small monument was built at the location to mark the corners of the four states, most recently reconstructed in 2010. Access to the monument will cost you $3 per person.
The Four Corners area of the country was “acquired” from Mexico following the Mexican American War (1846-1849) through the Mexican Cession. The way was more or less a result of the US annexing the Republic of Texas. Mexico still considered Texas to be part of its own territory in spite of the Texas Revolution of 1836 when Americans living in Texas declared independence from Mexico (remember the Alamo?). Apparently in the 10 short years that Texas existed as an independent nation, it had incurred so much debt that annexation by the United States provided an easy way out of owing everybody. In joining the US, the Federal government took over the debt and in return, Texas gave up claims to some of its supposed territory which included part of the present day states of New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas, and Oklahoma. This exchange was part of the Compromise of 1850, which included a provision that the US could create 4 additional states from the new territory that Texas gave up. This promise of 4 new states would eventually became Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah. Though the boundaries of these states changed a bit over the next few years, partly as a result of the Civil War, by 1865 they had been established as the shapes we know today.
The greatest irony of the Four Corners monument is that it is not at the exact location of where the state lines should meet. This is because when the corner was initially placed in 1875 was surveyed using the best tools available at the time, which of course are nowhere good as the tools available in the present day. It is now accepted that the Four Corners monument is actually off by 1,807 feet (551 m) from where the boundary was intended to be based on meridian lines. However, the Supreme Court has ruled that the state lines are bound by the initial survey.