The Measurement That Built America

The little-appreciated U.S. public-land survey not only opened up our frontier but made possible our freedoms

LOOK OUT THE AIRPLANE WINDOW ON A flight from Los Angeles to Chicago, and you can see below one of the most astonishing man-made constructs on earth. It is more extensive than the Great Wall of China, yet it remains almost invisible unless you’re looking for it.

Read more »

History Comes To The Plains

The old frontier began to die as the “medicine line” of the 49th Parallel was drawn

The Forty-ninth Parallel ran directly through my childhood, dividing me in two. In winter, in the town on the Whitemud, Saskatchewan, we were almost totally Canadian. The textbooks we used in school were published in Toronto and made by Canadians or Englishmen; the geography we studied was focussed upon the Dominion, though like our history it never came far enough west or close enough to the present to be of much use to us. The poetry we memorized seemed, as I recall it now, to run strongly toward warnings of disaster and fear of the dark and cold.Read more »