International Boundary Lines

Posted on 21 June 2013

Boundary Lines

How did the United States draw its boundaries in the era before border walls and fences (virtual or otherwise)? These remarkable photographs—scenes from 1860–61, when a joint U.S.-Canadian survey team marked out the International Boundary across the Northern Rockies—illustrate how stateless space became binational place. The labor of reifying an invisible line (the 49th parallel) involved clearing trees, building cairns, and the ritual emplacement of flags.

(Images from the Library of Congress.)

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