16-Jul-2000 -- This stretch of the 42nd western parallel has a pretty
good landmark to help confluence hunters: the New York-Pennsylvania state
line, which is not far from this and the three to the west. (The border compact
between the states says the parallel is supposed to be the boundary, but that
surveying was done a long time ago with less exact technology. So three
confluences are in NY and one in PA, without rhyme or reason).
I had been looking for a chance to visit a confluence since I first found this
page through a link from the county highpointers' site. But most of the remaining
ones in my area were too far away for current gas prices to justify a trip to those
areas just for them.
However, a weekend in the Finger Lakes put these within my reach. It
wasn't at all hard to choose this one, as it's not too far from an interstate, a major
city, and a state highway. I had turned the GPS on to acquire a fix at an earlier
rest stop, and as I exited NY 17 (the future I-86) at NY 26 on the outskirts of
Binghamton and headed south up a hill and then down a long valley, it was
thrilling to watch the numbers decline to 42º00.00". When I reached that
point I knew the state line was coming up, and sure enough there it was.
Just over it, in PA, there was a Mobil station with a cigarette annex to
take advantage of the differences between the two states' tobacco taxation.
Could the confluence be there? Wouldn't that be easy if it were? And
wouldn't that make a really different picture for the site?
It was not to be so. The topo maps showed the confluence firmly in NY,
and my GPS agreed I was not there. So I walked up what was left of PA 267
as it became 26. Not two hundred feet up, and still not there, a woman
coming out of a light green house said hi to me. I figured this was my best
chance to ask someone, as I thought the confluence might be in her backyard.
I explained to her what I was doing and showed her the GPS, then
reading 41º59.99 and four-thousandths of a degree shy to the west. I don't
know if she grasped how close I was, or to what, but she must have figured
me for harmless and let me go uphill, into a wooded area. She declined an
offer to photograph her.
As far as I could go in her backyard wasn't doing it to reach the
confluence. I entered the spruce grove and had to duck around some trees,
momentarily losing my straight easterly course. Trending to the north as the
GPS was still demanding, though, I reached, right at the meridian, a small
Anxiously I made the final paces north to the confluence, one eye on the
Magellan 4000 XL's display. I passed a strange sort of monument, if the
person who left it here did it for that purpose ... a discarded industrial air-handler
or something of the sort and an empty milk crate.
In the northwest corner, not far away, I finally got the eight zeroes in the
minutes column and let out a self-congratulatory whoop. I stayed a few minutes
to take the usual round of pictures to go with it.
As I had promised the woman in the green house (the confluence is actually
behind the brown house), I was not long in coming back. I told her she was
lucky to live near such a unique point on the earth's surface. She seemed to be waiting for someone. When I came back a few minutes later, she was gone.