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American Geographical Extremes

By Edited Jun 23, 2016 0 0

United States territory covers not only the 50 States but an assortment of islands in the Pacific and Caribbean. Let's take a tour of some extreme places in the USA.

Go West Young Man - Or Go East - It Doesn't Matter Much. 

Point Udall in Guam located at  13°26′51.2″N 144°37′5.5″E is the westernmost point (again

Udell Point with sub
by travel, not longitude) in the United States. This Point Udall is namedfor former Arizona congressman Morris "Mo" Udall, brother to Stewart.  During the push to put the Udall name on the point, Guam's nonvoting congressional delegate Ben Blaz said "If our legislation is approved, America's day would begin and end at a Point Udall.  The Point is part of a naval base - the photo shows ballistic missile submarine USS Kamehameha which is designed to support US Navy Seal special forces ops

Point Udell USVI

The other Point Udall located at 17°45′20″N 64°33′55″W C is found at the east end of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Point Udall is the easternmost point (by travel, not longitude) in the United States including territories and insular areas. This Point Udall was named for Stewart Udall, United States Secretary of the Interior under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson and brother to Mo Udall. 

If you decide to go East, check out the Point Udall Millennium Monument built to welcome the Year 2000 to the USA. It is a large sundial (pictured).

North by Northwest

In the extreme Northwest corner of the lower 48 states you can find Point Roberts.  This little piece of Washington State is actually attached only to Canada.  Point Roberts inconvenient situation results from the 49th parallel line being drawn without regard to the practical reality that Point Roberts, while South of the streight line, is part of a peninsula that is Canadian territory.

Much of the property in Point Roberts is owned by Canadians anyway who consider it the ultimate gated community protected by the Department of Homeland Security.  Many Canadian have US PO Boxes here to - the mail is trucked in across the border at Blaine, through Canada, across the border at Point Roberts so that the Canadians can pick it up and return to Canada.  Getting to Point Roberts requires driving/walking in or taking a boat. There is no ferry or airport. 

The Point is occasional used by American law enforcement to trap wanted fugitives.  The wanted man is invited to a meeting across the border and is then snatched up. 

Northwest Angle Map
The most Northern part of the lower 48 also resulted from bad information in the drawing of the 49th parallel.  The Northwest Angle and related islands is actually the only place in the United States outside Alaska that is north of the 49th parallel. When the border was defined in the Treaty of Paris, at the end of the American Revolutionary War, the border would go "...through the Lake of the Woods to the northwestern most point thereof, and from thence on a due west course to the river Mississippi..."  When a survey team led by David Thompson finally located the northwesternmost point of the lake and surveyed this north-south line, it was found to intersect other bays of the lake and therefore formed the boundary of a section of U.S. territory to its east, now known as the Northwest Angle.  (The other screwup in that phrase is that the Mississippi does not reach the 49th parallel, but no one knew that at the time).

With just 152 residents, mostly natives on the Red Lake Indian Reservation that covers 70% of the district, this little  116.632 square mile portion of Minnesota is only accessible by boat, by driving on the frozen Lake of the Woods, or by driving through Canada.  

The Real North

Point Barrow or Nuvuk is the northernmost point of all the territory of the United States at 71°23′20″N 156°28′45″W. and it is 9 miles (14 km) northeast of the most northerly American settlement at Barrow, Alaska. The distance to the North Pole is 1,122 nautical miles (1,291 mi; 2,078 km), or 40 miles (64 km) further than the distance from Murchison Promontory, Nunavut (most northern point on the North America mainland) to the Pole.

The Deep South

Rose Atoll extreme southern point in the USA
No, not Alabama, think Deeper South.  Rose Atoll, a Wildlife Sanctuary within the U.S. territory of American Samoa is the southernmost point in the USA. It can be found at 14° 32′ 48″ S, 168° 9′ 7″ W.  The US maintains a base at the South Pole of Antarctica but makes no territorial claims to the Southern Continent so the tropical paradise of Rose Atoll remains the southern most point of US territory.   

Approximately 97% of American Samoa’s seabird population resides on Rose Atoll. Each of the 12 bird species is federally protected. Red-footed boobies and greater and lesser frigate birds nest in the buka trees. Black noddies and white terns nest in the middle and lower branches. The root system is used by the reef herons and red-tailed tropic birds. Other birds can be found in the Pisonia forest, the only one left in Samoa.

Top it Out

Mt McKinley
Mount McKinley or Denali in Alaska, is the highest mountain peak in North America and in the United States, with a summit elevation of 20,320 feet (6,194 m) above sea level. If measured base-to-peak, it is the tallest mountain on land and when measured by topographic prominence, it is the third most prominent peak in the world after Mount Everest and Aconcagua. Denali National Park and Preserve surrounds the very photogenic mountain. 

Hit the Bottom

Badwater Basin
If you are afraid of heights, head to Death Valley where you can get down to 252 ft below sea level. Badwater Basin in Death Valley National Park, Death Valley, California is the lowest point in North America. Interestingly Mount Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous 48 states, is only 84.6 miles (136 km) to the WNW.

The site itself consists of a small spring-fed pool of "bad water" next to the road in a sink; the accumulated salts of the surrounding basin make it undrinkable, thus giving it the name. The pool does have animal and plant life, including pickleweed, aquatic insects, and the Badwater snail.

The actual lowest spot in the park tends to move around, but because the salt flats are dangerous to walk on, the lowest point sign is located at Badwater Basin.



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