Tuesday, November 12, 2013

fading colors

Skewered like a loggerhead shrike's grasshopper, this sweet gum leaf is impaled on a rose's thorn.

The sweet gums are some of the few trees that are still hanging onto a few of their leaves, their colors. But that will soon change.

After Thomas Jefferson made the Louisiana Purchase that, in effect, doubled the size of the United States, the new territory had to be surveyed. All of the territory east of the Mississippi River had been plotted and four meridians established. Surveyors Prospect K. Robbins and Joseph C. Brown were sent to establish the Fifth Meridian. 

At a site located in a black water swamp that was ninety-one degrees, three minutes and forty-two seconds West of Greenwich at a latitude of thirty-four degrees they established a starting point. This spot originally marked by two sweet gums is the beginning for all lands in Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, the Dakotas, Nebraska, and most of Kansas, Colorado, Montana and Minnesota.

Today the location is marked by a rock in Louisiana Purchase State Park near Blackton, Arkansas.

- Photo at Ijams Nature Center.

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