2009 Spring 2 Fall travel blog

little affluence here


wind array

bikers come out of the woodwork on the weekends




nearing Pennsylvania the landscape opens up



approaching 39 degrees - 43 minutes north latitude

the Mason-Dixon Line

to paraphrase Jim Nabors at Indy - "Back home again - in...

50 miles south of Pittsburgh

landscapes from my earliest memories

a little more affluent here - but not much

An unsavory use for a perfectly valid line - Sunday, July 12

When astronomer Charles Mason and surveyor Jeremiah Dixon established a legal border between the Pennsylvania Colony and the Maryland Colony in 1767 they were working under the direction of the British Crown, which was tired of the quarreling between William Penn and Charles Calvert (Lord Baltimore) over who owned what?

Beginning in 1763, ninety seven years before the beginning of the Civil War, Mason and Dixon worked for four years. They set the boundary between the two colonies (and today between the two states) at roughly 39 degrees, 43 minutes north latitude. Penn and Calvert chipped in 3,500 pounds to pay them and the border between the colonies, if not fixed in stone was at least marked with stones, which like Mason and Dixon were also imported from England.

Had the contemptible practice of slavery not existed, no more significance would ever have been attached to their work, but when Pennsylvania abolished slavery in 1781 the western part of the line became a border between slave states and free states. When Congress enacted the Missouri Compromise in 1820 they used the Mason-Dixon Line as a determining factor in the controversial practice of extending slavery into the new territories, and it thereby acquired the ugly reputation with which it is still associated.

All this is long past, and today few Americans know or care about the history of the line. But to old geezers like me, crossing the Mason-Dixon Line is still symbolic of leaving the south and returning to the north. Today we made that crossing when we left West Virginia and entered Pennsylvania, and much as we’ve come to like the present day south, it still felt good. This Yankee is home again, and ‘home in Pennsylvania’ means not only returning to the north, but returning to the place where I was born.

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