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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Ind. Gov't. - "Plan to help retrace state border with Michigan"

Maureen Hayden reports today in the New Albany News & Tribune:

INDIANAPOLIS — Pushed by its neighbor to the north, Indiana has finally agreed to spend money to find out where the Hoosier state officially begins and Michigan ends.

A new law signed by Gov. Mike Pence is expected to set into motion a five-year, $1 million effort to retrace the official state line that was set by a federal surveyor in 1827.

Most of the wooden posts used to mark the border have long since decayed and never were replaced, leaving residents along the boundary in somewhat of a quandary: They don’t exactly know where the official state line is.

“People have gone to court just to figure out what state they’re in,” said Jack Owens, a retired Michigan land surveyor who’s spent a decade pushing for the project.

Four years ago, the Indiana General Assembly passed a bill creating the Indiana Michigan Border Commission, and tasked it with redrawing the boundary. Michigan was ready to pass similar legislation, required for the work to begin, until it found out Indiana hadn’t put up any money for the project.

That was rectified this year, when Indiana lawmakers agreed to spend $500,000 to match what Michigan will spend.

Thanks to decades' worth of historic records, surveyors generally know where the boundary that separates Indiana from Michigan is.

But it’s not precise, which has led to disputes over property lines, and concerns about taxation and law enforcement jurisdiction.

Owens remembers a telephone call he got from an attorney representing the victim of a traffic accident along the state border.

“He asked me what state the accident was in,” Owens said. “I said, ‘I can’t really tell you. We don’t really know where the state line is.’ ”

History, decay and neglect are to blame.

There is much more to this fascinating story, such as:
It took awhile for Indiana to settle on its northern boundary. In 1805, the line that separated the Indiana and Michigan territories was 10 miles south of where it is now. When Indiana petitioned Congress for statehood in 1816, it wanted to move the line north to get access to Lake Michigan for a port.

Congress approved and on paper, the line was moved. “But in typical government fashion, the actual field work didn't happen for another 10 years,” Marbach said.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on May 30, 2013 02:57 PM
Posted to Indiana Government