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The Long And The Lat Of It

Obscure monument to ND mapper.An invisible grid criss-crosses our earth and gives at least some of our roadside globes a distinctive look. It tells our space robots where we are, and fuels the current fashion for longitude and latitude tourism. And it’s in the news.

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports that the 45th parallel (that’s a latitude) sign on the north entrance road to Yellowstone Park had stood for years in obscurity, until recently. Then, to the bafflement of the Park, the sign “became a tourist attraction, drawing crowds for photo ops.” Fearful of the hazards of traffic, the Park has moved the sign about a mile north, next to a parking area — which could have been rotten luck for 45th parallel fans except that it’s now reportedly much closer to the 45th parallel than it had been before.

The bafflement of Yellowstone stands in sharp contrast to keen-eyed Tualatin, Oregon, which has just erected a nifty spinning-globe monument to the 65th meridian (a longitude). This particular invisible line runs through the city, and even has an official name, the Principal Willamette Meridian. The county surveyor, interviewed by the Tualatin Times, declares that “the Willamette Meridian line is perfect in measurement.” Like the 45th parallel, the 65th meridian cuts through countless communities, but only Tualatin has marked it with a photo op, and now all on-the-grid fans will have to add it to their pilgrimage itineraries.

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