Meridian - Base Line

Registered Site S0737

Initial Point

The 1785 Land Ordinance organized a system of surveying land in regular square six-mile units called townships and square one-mile subunits called sections. Surveyor General Edward Tiffin set the Michigan Meridian (north-south line) using the 1807 Treaty of Detroit land cessions. On September 29, 1815, Benjamin Hough began the surveying north from Defiance, Ohio. Alexander Holmes began surveying the meridian from a point 78 miles west of Detroit. Wet land caused him to turn east then north before starting the base line east. He quit that fall, but Hough completed the meridian and marked the initial point in 1816. Tiffin suspended surveying in 1816 as he believed the land "poor" Unfit for military purposes and not "worth the expense of surveying it."
photo of Initial Point

Dual Initial Points

Michigan Territory Governor Lewis Cass directed surveys near Detroit to resume in 1817. The opening of the Erie Canal in 1821 increased industry and settlement, contributing to the need for further land surveys. In 1824, Joseph Wampler reran the last twelve miles of the meridian north to intersect the base line he had extended west about eighteen miles. For unknown reasons, he marked a second initial point 935.88 feet south of the first mark. Since land had already been surveyed and sold using the first point, surveyors used both initial points: the northern point for land east of the meridian and the southern point for land westward. The Michigan survey continued through 1856, based on the dual initial points near here, where Jackson and Ingham Counties meet.

Photo courtesy of Tom Glowacki.
Erected 2016

Location: Meridian State Park N Meridian Road
Henrietta Twp, Jackson County


Latitude: 42.422442774, Longitude: -84.35697555

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