Four Corners miscalculation may not deter tourists
TEEC NOS POS, Ariz. ” X only sort of marks the spot, but Four Corners Monument officials believe a slight miscalculation in where the corners of four states meet won’t deter tourists who photograph each other sprawled across four states.
Park manager DeWayne Johnson said tourism to the monument has dropped steadily in the past decade, but recent media coverage exposing a surveying error has increased it.
“Overnight, we got more visitors after the media got this,” Johnson said. “I think we might be getting a big rush this summer. Already we have more visitors per day than we did this time last year.”
Park visitors peaked at about 260,000 people in 2004, Johnson said. Last year, it saw about 200,000 tourists.
The marker for the only location in the U.S. where four states come together was placed almost dead on in 1875, said Dave Doyle, chief geodetic surveyor for the National Geodetic Survey, which defines and manages a national coordinate system. However, it’s a bit east of where it should be: 1,807.14 feet, or about the length of six football fields, he said.
Doyle said it doesn’t matter because the marker’s location for the intersection of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah is now accepted.
“Even if it’s 10 miles off, once it’s adopted by the states, which it has been, the numerical errors are irrelevant. It becomes the legal definition” of the Four Corners, he said.
Johnson said the marker’s placement has been questioned before, but he was startled this time because the news went around the globe and showed up on major Web sites.
“The majority of people who thought this was a big deal are non-natives,” he said. “It appeared that the media broke this story, but we’ve known it.”
The attention now focuses on the uniqueness of the monument, operated by the Navajo Nation Parks and Recreation Department, Johnson said.
“Visitors don’t seem to care that we’re not where we’re supposed to be,” he said.
Tourists to the monument last week agreed.
“It really doesn’t change my opinion at all,” said Caroline Rogers of Lee, N.H.
Federica Notari of Italy, who did a handstand on the four states, said the error didn’t bother her.
“My opinion doesn’t change,” she said. “It’s the monument I wanted to see.”
Johnson believes the monument appeals more to visitors’ ideas of entering native land than of standing on the accurate intersection of four states.
“What they really come here for is to stand on the Navajo Nation and hold fry bread,” Johnson said.