The Superior Express -

By Jeffrey P. Metzler
Legislative Intern 

Highlighting the Sixth Principle Meridian at Mahaska


February 6, 2020

As part of the Kansas Day Celebrations, Elaine Bowers, state senator, brought attention to a District 36 highlight: The Initial Point of the Sixth Principle Meridian, which is located in Senate District 36 near Mahaska, Kan. The Sixth Principle Meridian is a north-south line used to survey Kansas and Nebraska, along with parts of Colorado, South Dakota and Wyoming. The meridian, established in 1855, travels from the northern border of Nebraska down to the southern border of Kansas.

According to the Center for Land Use Interpretation, "Surveyors started where the 40th degree of latitude met the Missouri River, and headed west to establish the baseline." The surveyors were instructed by the Commissioner of the General Land Office to stop after 108 miles. As the Kansas Society of Land Surveyors reports, "A surveyor can survey a line for nine miles before having to resort to using spherical geometry and trigonometry to correct for the earth's curvature. After nine miles, the surveyors could stop and make corrections from astronomical observations, then continue on. The number 108 is divisible by nine, thence the number was chosen."

The small red sandstone, preserved underground and sealed by a manhole cover, controls the systems of sections, townships and ranges of the public land surveys for the previously mentioned regions. To commemorate the importance of this stone to the state, the region, and to the nation, The Professional Surveyors of the 6th P.M. dedicated a memorial on June 11, 1987. As the memorial's informational sign states, "The memorial is made of Colorado red granite with Wyoming and Nebraska rubble stone. Each side of the cap contains a state name, date of statehood, and the logo of each state's professional surveying association."

Senator Bowers said this is an important part of history for not just District 36, but Kansas as a whole. "The Initial Point played a pivotal role in helping chart the territory for homesteaders to later come to Kansas and plant their roots; and I'm so glad that District 36 is the home of this Kansas treasure."


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