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Michigan Initial Points
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Michigan Meridian


All of Michigan was surveyed from an initial point near its southern border. A jog in the baseline causes this to be a double Initial Point, the only one in the country. The two points are on the same north/south meridian, but are 935 feet apart (in surveyor terms, 14.18 chains—one chain is 66 feet). This discrepancy is the result of an error detected after the surveys east of the meridian had been completed, between the years 1815 and 1824, but before the surveys west of the meridian were begun.

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In 1974, the Initial Points were monumented with twenty-foot wide concrete discs by the Michigan Society of Registered Land Surveyors, which had plans for building a surveying museum at the site but eventually the museum  was located in downtown Lansing instead.
The northern Initial Point is in a swamp which has undermined the concrete disc.

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The large descriptive medallion on top of the north Initial Point has been stolen.
It was replaced with a simple survey marker erected by the county.


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The metal plate here resembles the one missing from the northern monument, and indicates the meridian, running north/south, and the west baseline, emerging to the left (west) from the meridian.

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Even the non-contiguous Upper Peninsula was surveyed from the Michigan Meridian, starting at
the double Initial Point in southern Michigan, and a small stretch of northern Ohio too.


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The north/south jog in the otherwise east/west county line in the center of the map above is the 935 foot correction
made to the baseline in 1824. The northern corner was the Initial Point for the surveys east of the meridian, and the lower corner was the Initial Point for surveys west of the meridian.

 

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