Mason-Dixon Hike to Retrace Historic Survey
Washington PA Observer-Reporter
14 October 2015
By C.R. Nelson
CORE, W.Va. – With autumn in full blaze and temperatures just
right for hiking, it’s a great time to “explore the line” at
Mason-Dixon Historical Park near Core. W.Va.
It was 248 years ago this month when surveyors Charles Mason and
Jeremiah Dixon stopped their survey on the banks of Dunkard Creek.
Starting at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, the annual Mason-Dixon Hike will
have re-enactors telling the story of those times. Then, a hike
will take place where, on Oct. 8, 1767, Mason noted in his
“At 232 miles 43 chains crossed Dunchard’s Creek a second time. At
232 miles 74 chains crossed Ditto a third time. This day the Chief
of the Indians which joined us on the 16th of July informed us
that the above mentioned War Path was the extent of his commission
from the Chiefs of the Six Nations that he should go with us …and
that he would not proceed one step farther Westward.”
The survey was commissioned to settle land disputes between
Pennsylvania and Delaware.
The surveyors and their hundred-some team of ax men accompanied by
native guides were halted by the Catawba war path about three
miles southwest of Mt. Morris, 21.9 miles short of their goal of
marking the present-day southwest corner of Pennsylvania. It would
be another 15 years before Andrew Ellicott, using astronomical
calculations completed the line.
Pete Zapadka of Cheat Lake, W.Va., will lead the hike and offer
insights into the astronomical observations that allowed these
surveyors of the 18th century to draw the Mason-Dixon line through
virgin forests and hilly terrain. At 10:45 a.m., Doug Wood of
Nitro, W.Va., will set the historic stage as Cherokee leader
Ostenaco and give participants a taste of what life was like in
the area when Mason and Dixon visited. He, his wife, Dianne
Anestis, and historical re-enactor Ed Robey of Morgantown, W.Va.,
are part of the History Alive! program of the West Virginia
The hike along Dunkard Creek to the third and last crossing of the
survey team covers easy terrain and is about 1 ½ miles.
Hikers up for a challenge can climb Browns Hill and visit the
stone marker that sits where the survey team climbed the highest
nearby hill and erected a temporary edifice of stones piled around
a white oak post, with the letter W carved in it to mark
Browns Hill offers a fine view of the park below and many stately
trees along the trail have identifying markers, including the
fiercely spiked honey locust.
For more information or directions, call 304-879-4101 or go to
masondixonhistoricalpark.com. To learn more about the western end
of the Mason-Dixon Line, visit exploretheline.com.