Ascent of North Carolina-Tennessee-Virginia Corners on 2013-08-17

Climber: Tom Layton

Date:Saturday, August 17, 2013
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:North Carolina-Tennessee-Virginia Corners
    Location:USA-North Carolina
    Elevation:4628 ft / 1410 m

Ascent Trip Report

North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia share the highest tri-state corner in the eastern US (4,628 feet). The trifinium is marked by USCGS benchmark "NC Corner" set in 1933 on a stone chiseled with the cardinal directions. According to John Preston Arthur's 1914 History of Western North Carolina, the original chiseling was marked in 1899 or 1900 by a Mr Buchanan with the U.S. Coastal Survey.

By definition, the tri-state corner is where the surveyed boundary between NC and VA intersects the watershed dividing the Tennessee and New rivers.

It also happens to be the northernmost point in NC, because the NC/VA boundary does not run precisely east-west, as it may appear at first glance.

According to Jack Parsell's book about the tri-state corners, the NC/VA boundary was supposed to be on the N36:30 parallel. In practice, it traces N36:32:30 from the coast to the foothills. Heading westward into the mountains, the surveyed line drifts to the north. I'm not sure if this deviation was by agreement, mistake, or temptation. According to Arthur's book, the original surveyors sometimes went out of their way to visit stills as they plotted the border.

BM NC Corner is at N36:35:17, which is about 3 miles north of the 36:32:30 line and almost 6 miles north of of the 36:30 parallel.

If the N36:32:30 line had been followed accurately across the mountains to the Tennessee divide, the tri-state corner would be near Winnie Knob, and Pond Mountain and Stone Mountain would be in Virginia (where they would be part of the Peakbagger's list of Virginia peaks over 4,500 feet).

This is a half-mile walk north of Glenn BM on Stone Mtn and 2.7 miles from the upper parking area at Pond Mtn. For access and hiking directions, see my trip report for Glenn Benchmark (aka Stone Mountain).

The state corners are an interesting list. In addition to the Four Corners, there are 61 tri-corners. Of these, 23 are underwater, but 38 are accessible. As far as I know, none of the corners is atop a significant peak, although three are near the state HPs of CT, OK, and NE. The four highest are on the borders of Wyoming. Here are the elevations of the 10 highest:

8403 CO-UT-WY
8325 ID-MT-WY Continental Divide
7040 ID-UT-WY
5379 CO-NE-WY near Panorama Point (NE HP)
5289 CA-NV-OR
5269 ID-NV-OR
5233 ID-NV-UT
4862 AZ-CO-NM-UT Four Corners
4658 NM-OK-TX near Black Mesa (OK HP)
4628 NC-TN-VA on slopes of Stone Mtn

Tri-state corners above 1000 feet east of the Mississippi:
4628 NC-TN-VA
2320 MD-PA-WV
2150 GA-NC-SC Chattooga River at Ellicotts Rock
2145 CT-MA-NY on slopes of Mt Frissell (near CT HP)
1970 KY-TN-VA Cumberland Gap
1740 GA-NC-TN
1420 MA-NY-VT
1070 IN-MI-OH

Summary Total Data

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