USCGS West Line Stone (254), 1767 & 1883, Pennsylvania-West Virginia
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member seventhings
N 39° 43.276 W 080° 07.085
17S E 575585 N 4397193
Quick Description: USCGS West Line Stone (254), 1767 & 1883, PA-WV, is a dressed sandstone shaft set by the 1883 - 1885 re-survey of the western portion of Pennsylvania’s southern boundary with West Virginia.
Location: Pennsylvania, United States
Date Posted: 6/5/2007 6:59:59 PM
Waymark Code: WM1N3Q
Published By: Groundspeak Charter Member GEO*Trailblazer 1
Views: 81

Long Description:
USCGS West Line Stone (254), 1767 & 1883, PA-WV, is a 12-inch by 12-inch dressed sandstone shaft that projects 26 inches. In 1883, Cephas Sinclair of the US Coast & Geodetic Survey (USC&GS) set this stone to mark the line as originally surveyed by Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon in 1767. It marks the western limit of Mason and Dixon’s survey. It is located near the summit of Brown’s Hill, about 10.6 miles northwest of Morgantown, WV, about 4.9 miles east of Blacksville, WV, about 2.8 miles west-southwest of Mount Morris, PA, and on the Greene County, PA, - Monongalia County, WV, boundary line. It is depicted on the USGS topographic map for the Osage (WV-PA) Quadrangle, but it is not numbered. Were it numbered, it would be stone number 254 from the east end of the West Line at the MD-PA-DE tri-state boundary intersection point at BOUNDARY MON 87 DE MD PA = RM2, PID = JU3841. It is 230.67 miles from that tri-state intersection point. The stone is in neither the National Geodetic Survey nor Geocaching databases.

Mason and Dixon first reached this end of the West Line on or about October 11, 1767, and finalized the position on or about October 20, 1767. They did not set any stone monuments west of Sideling Hill (at about Mile 132) due to the absence of wagon-passable roads in the area. The existing stone was set in 1883. It was dressed and inscribed specifically for the 1883 - 1885 re-survey.

The stone is a sandstone shaft with a steeply pyramidal top, and is in very good condition. The pyramidal top is truncated with a four-inch square flat area and center punch at the apex. The north face is inscribed with a cut “P”, the south face with a cut “WV”, and the east face with “1883”. Faint remnants of an inscription are visible on the west face, but are unreadable. According to the preliminary (1883) report of the joint commissioners, the original inscription on the west face indicated the distance (in miles and tenths) from the southwest corner of PA (for this position, 21 + miles). The commissioners’ report describes the stone as “sandstone”, but it appears to be an exceptionally dense type of sandstone (similar to the coarse-grained marble that is native to the area.

The stone is located in the center of a clearing that runs along the ridgeline of Brown’s Hill. It is about 70 feet west-northwest of a wood picnic table, about 27 feet west of a 36-inch diameter Oak, and in the center of a gravel “mound” that is about 12 feet across and rises about six inches above the surrounding terrain. According to Sinclair’s report, the “mound” is what remains of the mound established at this position by Mason and Dixon.

The convention for naming the boundary stones along the West Line is to use the sequential number assigned each on the US Geological Survey (USGS) topographical charts. Consequently, since the stone at Mile 0 is labeled Stone 1 and several stones were set between even-mile points, Stone 254 does not mark an even mile point, but the point where the West Line crosses the ridgeline of Brown’s Hill. This stone lies approximately 230.67 miles west of the original eastern end of the boundary line. This is in contrast to the Mason Dixon stones along the Tangent Line where the stone at Mile 0 is named as such in the NGS and Geocaching databases (and on the USGS quads), and there is little difference between the stone’s number and its mileage from the line’s origin. Due to the roughness of the terrain west of Sideling Hill, the Mason and Dixon Survey and subsequent surveys were less concerned with marking every mile point than with marking where the West Line crossed ridges and roads.

To reach from Exit 1 off Interstate Highway 79 at Mount Morris, PA, go westerly on Locust Ave for about 0.5 miles to the intersection with US Highway 19. Cross US Highway 19 and continue southwest on Locust Ave for about 100 yards to the intersection with Wades Run Road. Turn right and go west on Wades Run Road for about 160 yards to the intersection with Buckeye Road (may be labeled as “Core Road” on some maps). Turn left and go westerly on Buckeye Road for about 3.4 miles to the Brown’s Hill Visitors’ Center (large red barn and garage) on the right. From the visitors’ center, pack northwest and uphill across a grass field for about 200 yards to two restored settler’s cabins. From the eastern cabin, pack northeast, north and northwest along the ridgeline of Brown’s Hill for about 0.5 miles to the stone. NOTE: The initial portion of the very dim trail is very steep.

The West Line is the southern boundary of Pennsylvania. It is a line of constant latitude that extends from an intersection with the Twelve Mile Circle boundary of Delaware (about 2.8 miles north-northwest of Newark, DE) westward for about 252.7 miles to the southwest corner of Pennsylvania (about 30 miles northwest of Morgantown, WV). In 1766 and 1767, Mason and Dixon marked the first 132 miles (starting at the east end of the line) with stones. Beyond the 132 mile point, they used cairns and posts to mark the miles to the limit of their survey (about 230 miles). Subsequent surveys, most notably in 1901-1903, added stone markers and replaced several of the original stones.

In 1632, Charles I of England granted George Calvert, the First Lord Baltimore, the land north of the Potomac River to the 40th Parallel. Calvert named the colony Maryland. In 1681, Charles II granted William Penn all the land west of the Delaware River between the 40th and 43rd Parallels, but excluding the land within a twelve mile circle around New Castle. [Apparently, accurate information about the colonies’ geography was a bit sketchy – the 40th Parallel is about 23.5 miles north of New Castle.]

By 1732, a large number of Pennsylvanians had settled on lands south of the 40th Parallel, and the Penn Family initiated negotiations to re-define the colony’s boundary line with Maryland. The negotiations failed and, in 1738, colonial surveyors ran a temporary boundary line 15 ½ miles south of Philadelphia on the east side of the Susquehanna River and 14 ¾ miles south of the city on the west side of the river. After protracted legal action, the Court of Chancery in 1760 ruled in favor of the Penns’ proposal to revise southward the boundary as originally described in the 1681 grant. The West Line, constituting the northern boundary line of Maryland with Pennsylvania, was to be a parallel of constant latitude fifteen miles south of the most southern point in Philadelphia, and was to extend from the northeast corner of Maryland (defined elsewhere) westward to a point equal to five degrees of longitude west of the Delaware River. By ruling that the line would be 15 miles south of Philadelphia, the Court relocated the boundary line about 19.16 miles south of the 40th Parallel. The Court of Chancery also appointed four colonial surveyors to survey and mark all the common boundary lines of Maryland, Pennsylvania and Delaware, but the task proved to be beyond the surveyors’ capabilities.

In 1763, the proprietors of Pennsylvania (and Delaware) and Maryland engaged Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon to run and mark the boundary lines between the three colonies in accordance with the Court of Chancery’s findings. In 1764, Mason and Dixon established the location of the line of constant latitude 15 miles south of Philadelphia and established the initial point for the West Line ( and marked it with the “Post Mark’d West”). The West Line started at a point where a line that ran due north from Delaware’s Twelve Mile Circle boundary (the “North Line”) intersected the line of constant latitude. This intersection stood about three miles west of the initial point at the Post Mark’d West. In 1765, Mason and Dixon surveyed the West Line to about 117 miles west of the Post Mark’d West (or, 114 miles west of the eastern end of the West Line). In 1766, they extended the West Line to about 165 miles from the initial point and, in 1767, they extended the line to about 234 miles west of the Post Mark’d West. They fell about 21 miles short of surveying the line for the full five degrees of latitude from the Delaware River. The colonial commissioners could not secure permission from the Native Americans who controlled the territory to continue.

Mason and Dixon were assisted by three colonial surveyors: Joel Bailey, Jonathan Cope and William Darby. They also engaged the services of a small army of axmen, teamsters and other laborers.

Mason and Dixon set a stone at the intersection of the North Line and West Line on June 18, 1765. In November, 1766, they set 64 limestone mile markers from Mile 1 through Mile 65 (leaving Mile 64 unmarked). In November and December, 1767, Richard Farrow, Mason and Dixon’s labor contractor, set 68 additional limestone markers from Mile 66 through Mile 132 (plus Mile 64). Jonathan Cope supervised the setting of the stones in 1767. In November, 1768, (about two months after Mason and Dixon left America) the joint boundary commissioners set a double crown stone at the northeast corner of Maryland

Along the West Line, the five-mile intervals are marked with stones that have the Penn and Calvert armorial shields on the north and south faces, respectively. The intermediate mile markers have a cut “P” on the north face and a cut “M” on the south. The stones are high-grade oolitic limestone – greater than 95 percent calcium carbonate – and were quarried near the Isle of Portland (a peninsula) on the south coast of England. The dense limestone is generically known as “Portland Stone”. The intermediate mileposts are generally 12-inches by 12-inches and about 36 inches in length, and few stones project more than 24 inches. The crown stones are about a foot longer and generally project about 24 inches. The vertical faces of the stones are fluted vertically (with very shallow flutes), with a two-inch band of horizontal fluting at the corners. The tops originally were pyramidal and fluted. Due to weathering and damage, the tops of most stones are flat or slightly rounded. The cut letters are about five inches in height and are surrounded by an eight-inch flattened oval. Many of the stones have chiseled X’s in their tops.

Colonial surveyors John Leukens, John Ewing, David Rittenhouse, Thomas Hutchins and Andrew Ellicott completed the survey by determining the southwest corner of Pennsylvania in 1787.

In 1849, Lt. Col. J. D. Graham, US Corps of Topographical Engineers (USCTE), re-surveyed the Arc Line and the North Line. The USCTE survey set a new, granite survey stone at the intersection of the North and West Lines; both the original Mason-Dixon stone and the 1768 double crown stone had disappeared in the early 1800’s. The USCTE stone is a 14-inch by 14-inch granite shaft that projects about 24 inches. It has an inscribed “P” on the north and east faces, and an inscribed “M” on the south and west faces. Additionally, “1849” is inscribed on the north face. It is in the NGS database at PID = JU3841 (BOUNDARY MON 87 DE MD PA = RM2).

In 1885, C. H. Sinclair of the US Coast & Geodetic Survey re-surveyed the Pennsylvania – West Virginia boundary line and set 40 boundary stones along the western-most 55 miles of Pennsylvania’s southern boundary.

In 1889, the Pennsylvania and Delaware agreed to a re-survey of and adjustment to their common boundary lines. In 1892, a joint boundary commission engaged W. C. Hodgkins of the US Coast and Geodetic Survey (USCGS, now the National Geodetic Survey) to conduct the survey. As part of the survey and boundary adjustment, Hodgkins extended the West Line eastward (for about 0.789 miles) until it intersected the Twelve Mile Circle boundary line centered on New Castle, Delaware. The extension of the West Line eastward created a line segment known as the “Top of the Wedge Line”. Both Delaware and the US Congress ratified the result in 1921.

By extending the West Line eastward, Hodgkins changed the intersection of the North and West Lines from the MD-PA boundary intersection point to a MD-DE-PA tri-state intersection point. The point is called the MDP Corner today, and is still marked with the 1849 USCTE granite stone at PID = JU3841. The intersection of the West Line and Twelve Mile Circle is marked with a gneiss frustum (truncated obelisk), 14 inches square at the bottom and 12 inches square at the top, that projects about four and one-half five feet, and is at PID = JU3827 (BOUNDARY INIT PT DE MD PA = ARC CORNER).

Subsequent surveys, most notably in 1901-1903, added granite or marble markers (similar in design to the original Mason-Dixon stones) to the West Line, and replaced several original Mason-Dixon stones that had gone missing. In recent years, the Mason-Dixon Line Preservation Partnership and other professional surveying bodies have replaced several of the missing stones. In 2002 and 2003, they replaced missing original stones with granite crown stones at Mile 10 and Mile 75.

Mason, Charles and Jeremiah Dixon, “The Journal of Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon”, transcribed by A. Hughlett Mason (American Philosophical Society, 1969)

Bayliff, William H., “The Maryland-Pennsylvania and Maryland-Delaware Boundaries”, (Maryland Board of Natural Resources, Bulletin 4 Second Edition, 1959)

Cummings, Hubertis M., “The Mason and Dixon Line, Story for a Bicentenary, 1763-1963”, (Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Internal Affairs, 1962)

Danson, Edwin “Drawing the Line: How Mason and Dixon Surveyed the Most Famous Border in America” (John Wiley & Sons, 2001)

Hodgkins, W. C., “Report of the Engineer in Charge of the Resurvey of the Boundary Between Maryland and Pennsylvania, Part of the Mason and Dixon Line”, in William Bullock Clark, “Report on the Work of the Commission for the Resurvey of the Pennsylvania – Maryland Part of the Mason and Dixon Line”, (Annapolis, Maryland Geological Survey, 1908), pp. 37 – 101.

Sinclair, Cephas, et. al., reports of the surveyors and joint commissioners for the 1883 – 1885 re-survey of the PA-WV boundary in “Reports of the Secretary of Internal Affairs of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania containing Reports of the Surveys and Re-Surveys of the Boundary Lines of the Commonwealth”, (Harrisburg, Edwin K. Meyers, 1887), pp. 382 – 430.

Monumentation Type: Dressed stone

Monument Category: State boundary marker

Accessible to general public: yes

Historical significance:
See above - last point surveyed by Mason and Dixon.

County: Monongalia County, WV, - Greene County, PA

USGS Quad: Osage (WV-PA)


Approximate date of monument: 07/01/1883

Monumentation Type (if other): Not listed

Monument Category (if other): Not listed

Explain Non-Public access: Not listed

Monument Website: Not listed

Other Coordinates: Not Listed

Other Coordinates details: Not listed

Visit Instructions:
1. A closeup photo of the monument is required.
2. A 'distant' photo including the monument in the view is highly recommended. Include the compass direction you faced when you took the picture.
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