Located in the woods are two markers where Michigan got its start about two centuries ago. They mark the states Meridian, (north and south line) and the Baseline, (east and west line). All of the townships and counties in Michigan’s two peninsulas are surveyed from these two points. The markers are located in Meridian Baseline State Park about 15 miles north of Jackson.
The state has two points because there were two surveyors. On April 28, 1815, Benjamin Hough began surveying the Michigan territory. He started heading north from Fort Defiance in Ohio and about 70 miles north he set the first initial point in Michigan and began surveying sections 1 and 2. A second surveyor by the name of Fletcher surveyed sections 3 and 4 but his work was grossly inaccurate. To correct Fletcher’s mistakes a second initial point was established. One point is used for the east side of the state and the other is used for the west side of the state. Michigan is the only state to use two initial points for its public land surveying.
For years the twin initial points sat in a landlocked section of woods surrounded by private land. No one was allowed to visit them. In 2014 the state was able to create a parking lot and a trail to the two markers. It is about a mile and a half hike round trip to see the markers. If you do visit I recommend bug spray since they are in a rather swampy area.
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