Four Corners Monument
The monument is located on the Colorado Plateau west of U.S. Highway 160, approximately 6 miles (9.6 km) north of the Teec Nos Pos Trading Post.
The is the monument where visitors can simultaneously straddle the territory of four states of Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico. It is maintained as a tourist attraction by the Navajo Nation Parks and Recreation Department. Unlike many other attractions based on political boundaries, such as the Berlin Wall, it is an example of a political boundary as a tourist destination for the sake of itself.
The monument consists of a granite disk embedded with a smaller bronze disk around the point, surrounded by smaller, appropriately located state seals and flags representing both the states and tribal nations of the area. Circling the point, with two words in each state, the disk reads, "Four states here meet in freedom under God."
Around the monument, local Navajo and Ute artisans sell souvenirs and food. The monument is a popular tourist attraction despite its remote and isolated location.
Not only does the monument identify a perpendicular corner intersection, it is the only point in the United States shared by four states, leading to this area being called the Four Corners region. In addition to the four states, two semi-autonomous Native American tribal governments have boundaries at the monument, the Navajo Nation and the Ute Mountain Ute Indian Reservation, with the Ute Mountain tribal boundaries coinciding with Colorado's boundaries at the monument.
The area now called Four Corners was governed by Mexico following their independence from Spain, until being ceded to the United States by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848. The location of the Four Corners Monument was effectively set in 1861 as the southwest corner of the Colorado Territory by the Thirty-sixth United States Congress. Congress transferred land previously allocated to the Utah Territory by declaring the boundary of Colorado to be the 32nd meridian west from Washington. This line was derived from the reference used at the time, the Washington Meridian.
Several news stories from April 2009 claimed that more recent surveys had determined that the intersection of the corners was not in the intended location. However, these news stories were incorrect and the Associated Press issued a correction later that week. The American Surveyor Magazine issued a press release the day after these stories ran, claiming the boundary surveys for the New Mexico – Arizona border were accurate. They explained that the reference point used by the U.S. Congress at the time was the Washington Meridian, which has an offset from the modern reference, the Prime Meridian. They claimed this offset is often missed by those not familiar with the history of American surveying.
To settle the dispute, a spokesperson for the U.S. National Geodetic Survey admitted that the monument is placed 1,807 feet (551 m) east of where modern surveyors would mark the point. However, he defended the accuracy of the 1875 survey, stating surveyors "nailed it" considering the primitive tools of the day. Pointing out the achievement given the conditions, he further stated, "Their ability to replicate that exact point — what they did was phenomenal, what they did was spot on." He concluded by stating that any claims of the monument being misplaced are irrelevant, as once a survey commissioned to establish a boundary has been accepted by the relevant government agencies, the survey markers become legally binding. Similar statements were issued by the Navajo Nation, defending their work in maintaining and promoting the monument. In addition, general U.S. land principles, law, and the Supreme Court have established that the location of the monument is the legal corner of the four states.
You are encouraged to visit the following Navajo Nation Park Service web page for Four Corners Monument.