Author Topic: Ohio-Kentucky Border  (Read 5871 times)

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Offline RiverViewer

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Ohio-Kentucky Border
« on: June 02, 2006, 12:57:50 AM »
Over in Inkaelin's Favorite Ohio Bridge thread, PigBoy and I went off on a tangent regarding the Ohio-Kentucky border.  I thought that rather than continuing to pollute that thread, I'd start a new one just about the border (BTW, if any admins want to split those posts over to this thread, it would probably be helpful!  Here's a list of the message numbers: 56502, 56503, 56508, 56519, 56574, 56640, 56648, 56652, 56654, 56661, 56766 and 56778.)


Anyway, picking up with this:

Maps always show the border somewhere in the river, but I often wonder how accurate they are.
I've changed my mind on this.  I've decided that there's no compelling reason to suspect that the border as drawn on many maps (such as Google Maps) is not accurate.

I forgot to post this, but back in January I went to the Ohio Division of Geological Survey and purchased five or six different maps - three or four of the 7.5 minute topo's, and then the two Ohio-Kentucky Border maps for the Cincinnati area (the Covington and Newport quadrangles).  They illustrate that your earlier apprehension about trusting a map's border, at least in the case of Ohio and Kentucky, was wise.  Here's the Geo Survey's map of the border between California and Highland Heights:



...and here's Google's map, which shows an obviously inaccurate border - it misses the big jog by Coney Island (red arrow), and misses the northward shift over at Mile 460 (blue arrow):



However, not all maps are built the same!  I checked Yahoo and Windows Live Local, and both of them seemed to have accurate border data.  Here's Yahoo:



...and here's Windows Live Local:




So I guess the moral of the story is that you can't trust everything you see on the internet!

Offline PigBoy

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Re: Ohio-Kentucky Border
« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2006, 08:48:33 AM »
Thanks for posting that!  Good to know.

An interesting thing is that these guys all get most of their map data from the same place (NAVTEQ)... I suspect they're working off the same border information but that Google has just generalized it a lot more.  So can we trust Yahoo's and Microsoft's maps to generally be accurate with regard to the border?  If so, it'll be interesting to follow it and look for any stange spots.

Offline RiverViewer

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Re: Ohio-Kentucky Border
« Reply #2 on: June 02, 2006, 08:54:23 AM »
I'll go through and look at the maps I got more closely, see if there are any other distinguishing elements, and compare/contrast...it was late last night when I realized I hadn't posted this, so I just went for the most obvious feature (the big jog by Coney Island)...

Offline Eighth and State

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Re: Ohio-Kentucky Border
« Reply #3 on: June 02, 2006, 08:21:04 PM »

   (Goes to book shelf)

   Volume IV, Final report, Ohio Cooperative Topographic Survey by C.E. Sherman, Inspector, 1933

   Chapter II, The Boundaries of Ohio, Southern (page 17)

   Low water mark on the Ohio side of the river is our southern boundary. This arises from the wording of the cession by Old Virginia of its lands north and west of the river Ohio to Congress, 1784. After the close of the Revlolution, the State of Virginia, due to its early English charters and grants, claimed all the land now embraced by West Virginia, Kentucky and the area now substantially covered by Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Even a portion of Pennsylvania was claimed by the Old Dominion state, partly from her original charters, and partly from her operations around Fort Duquense in defense of the region against early encroachments form the French.
 
   Virginina thus owned or claimed the entire Ohio River at one time, and in ceding "... all right, title, and claim, as well of soil as jurisdiction, which this Commonwealth hath to the territory or tract of country within the limits of the Virginia charter, situate, lying, and being, to the northwest of the river Ohio,...." she specified limits for the size of states to be made from the area ceded. Although the specifies size of states was changed, their southern edge has been decided, on account of the foregoing working, to be on the right bank of the Ohio River, that is, the right-hand side going downstream.

     Disputes involving this boundary have been quite numerous although not formally between the states themselves as litigants. They will not be recouted here since the legal definition cited below has "gained its residence." However, the nature of some points at issue in past disputes or likely to arise in the future may be noted. Ownership of islands in the river was uncertain until the state line was exactly defined and located. Blennerhassett Island for example contains about 515 acres of valuable farm land. The formation of new islands is an allied question. Gravel bars, frequently valuable as a supply of building materials, are involved. Bridges over the river are affected as to legal procedure. Permits to cities lying on the right bank of the river to use waters within another state are involved, as are also in certain instances questions of pollution and the disposal of wastes by dumping them into the river. Some of these together with questions of criminal jurisdiction are discussed in the law suits mentioned in the following paragraph.

    In Handley's lessee vs. Anthony a peninsula projecting from Indiana at low water became an island at higher stages of the river. The case came to the Supreme Court of the United States and it was decided in 1820 by Chief Justice Marshall, that the land belonged to Indiana, and that it's southern boundary should be established as low-water mark on the right bank of the Ohio river. In the case of Virginia vs. Garner et al, Samuel F. Vinton in 1845 defended before the Virginia high court some Ohioans (accused of assisting negroes to escape up the north bank of Ohio River) by citiing Judge Marshall's decision. Vinton added that if the true history of the territories were known, the middle of the stream would be the boundary. In 1877 the Ohio Fish Commission tried to have the State boundary established in the middle of the river, but without success.

     No important effort to change the boundary has been made since the foregoing, and the line now seems to be well established as far as phraseology is concerned. The difficulty arises in applying the legal description to the ground. For example, legal questions may arise from the construction of a series of movable dams in the river. Such a series was completerd by the National Government in 1929. These dams are lowered in times of high water and therefore do not affect flood heights, but they raise low stages of the river and poll them for purposes of navigation. Thus low-water mark is now different from that when the foregoing decision was made. Should these dams in future be replaced by new ones still higher, as has already happened at one to two places on the river in Pennsylvania, low-water mark will be shifted still farther. This further illustrates some disadvantage of our river boundary. Its most accurate representation is on a series of maps of the entire river to a scale of 1 inch = 600 feet, made in 1911-14 by the Ohio River Board of Engineers on Locks and Dams. The series was issued from the Louisville, Kentucky, office of the Corps of Engineers, U.S.A.  The sheets of the Ohio Cooperative Topographic Survey show the boundary along the right shore of the river as defined in legal descriptions, and as shown on the foregoing Army Engineers' maps.
 

Offline RiverViewer

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Re: Ohio-Kentucky Border
« Reply #4 on: June 02, 2006, 11:23:38 PM »
Since the time that was written, the dilemma he outlines has been resolved - the Supreme Court in the 1980's defined the boundary as the low water mark as it existed in 1793, and established a commission to figure out where exactly that was.  If you go to the tangential posts in the other thread (http://www.urbanohio.com/forum2/index.php?topic=5800.0), there are references and links for that.

That's a great description of the source of the debate, though...I hadn't seen the examples of islands and stuff in the other things I'd come across...definitely, thanks for taking the time to post all that!  Is this a book you have on your own bookshelf?  That's pretty damn cool...

Offline Eighth and State

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Re: Ohio-Kentucky Border
« Reply #5 on: June 02, 2006, 11:41:32 PM »

    Yep, pulled it off my own bookshelf. I also have volumes II and III of the report.


   

Offline Jeff

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Re: Ohio-Kentucky Border
« Reply #6 on: June 02, 2006, 11:53:07 PM »
Interesting discussion

I've always wondered how one would determine the low water mark in the 1700s.  Surely surveys from back then could not have been that accurate.

I recall reading about the litigation of the 1970s and 1980s on the boundary line.

This was actually pretty serious buisness back then as this was one of the things Kentucky was using to try to stop the construction of a nuclear power plant in Indiana (Marble Hill, between Madison and Louisvill), since the outfall of this plants was beyond the historic low water line, thus would have required a Kentucky environmental permit.

It also had some issues in terms of boat docks on the Indiana side.  Technically, though your housboat was tied up on the Indiana shore, if it was on a pier or dock that extended out into the river a bit it could have been in "Kentucky".


Offline PigBoy

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Re: Ohio-Kentucky Border
« Reply #7 on: June 03, 2006, 12:23:46 AM »
Browsing maps, I notice that Yahoo et al show the border exactly on the northern bank between Sayler Park in Cincinnati and the Great Miami River.  If accurate, I wonder if that means that the 1792 low-water mark is actually north of the present bank, and the boundary was fixed on that bank rather than giving the land to Kentucky.  (Or maybe such a situation was addressed in the various things posted and I'm not paying enough attention...)

Offline RiverViewer

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Re: Ohio-Kentucky Border
« Reply #8 on: June 03, 2006, 08:49:33 AM »
The maps I bought only go as far west as Anderson Ferry, so I can't help with that...though I might drop another $5 on the next quadrant west to find out!

Checking...actually, to cover the Ohio-Kentucky border from the Indiana state line to Anderson Ferry, you need to buy the following quadrants: Lawrenceburg, Hooven, Addyston and Burlington...Burlington covers about half that distance, and the rest is divided about evenly between the other three.  So $20, just for the definitive 1985 ruling on the border, which Yahoo may well have accurately depicted already...hmm...debating...

Offline Magyar

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Re: Ohio-Kentucky Border
« Reply #9 on: June 03, 2006, 12:37:26 PM »
As a side tangent to this topic.
Ohio decomissioned US 25 (present day I-75) back in the mid 70s.
But there has been a debate in the "roadgeek" community as to whether US 25 still enters Ohio or not due to Kentucky ending US 25 at the state line.  Which may, or may not be on the "Ohio side" of the River (as you've seen with this thread about the border). 
Through the documents ODOT has put online, I do believe the debate has been settled as to US 25's existance in Ohio (it doesn't). But roadgeeks still get a kick out of seeing US 25 shields in Cincinnati.

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