Cut the Corner

On December 7, 2010 · 22 Comments

Longtime reader James S.[1] has an interesting experience every time he drives along Interstate 75 between Georgia and Florida. There is a spot along that highway where one can observe two county entrance markers simultaneously.

Take a close look at the Google Street View image and the signs can be seen as blurry white lettering on a green background, one nearby and one on the horizon.

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Someone traveling north on I-75 heading towards Macon will leave Peach County, cross into Crawford County, and somewhere between 770-800 feet later cross into Bibb County. James wanted to know if there were other places where one could see two “entering” signs simultaneously.

I love the way they managed to post that billboard within the narrow band, too. Crawford successfully attained a little tax revenue from their tiny chunk of Interstate Highway.

Seriously, is there any reason that little neck of Crawford actually needs to exist? It doesn’t seem to serve any purpose, yet Georgia has an overdose of small, misshapen counties like this one. I experienced a similar situation on I-20 earlier this year when I clipped Walton County, Georgia. That was nowhere near as remarkable as James’ accomplishment however, as my trip through Walton lasted closer to 7,800 feet.

Let me pause momentarily for a small rant. I don’t like how the new Mapquest handles embedded maps, the only viable option when I wish to feature a geo-oddity involving county lines. These are the steps: first one has to specify a location rather than perform a simple drill-down task; then hunt for the option hidden behind the “Send To” button and the “Your Website” tab. Mapquest will finally generate a code but it doesn’t provide any preview or customization function. I had to drop it into my website, make a best guess and then adjust the code from within my blog by hand. That’s unbelievably inconvenient and unresponsive.

Plus, embedded Mapquest images don’t appear in Google Reader. If you don’t see bunch of maps and you want to understand what I’m talking about, you’ll need to leave Reader and come to the website.

But let’s get back on track and consider James’ question. I turned to the excellent Mob Rule website that caters to the County Counter community. The site provides a page called "Difficult Questions" that attempts to determine whether certain major roads touch specific counties or not. There I found some really interesting situations.

Drivers heading northbound on U.S. Route 19 through Fanning Springs, Florida will enter Gilchrist County, but drivers heading south will not. The county border splits this mile-long road segment down the middle.

Do travelers on Interstate 294 outside of Chicago, Illinois enter DuPage County? No, they don’t. However, those heading southbound on I-294 who then exit eastbound onto I-290 will clip DuPage County for maybe five hundred feet.

There is a stretch of Interstate 80 in Nevada that rivals the Georgia example but falls just a bit short. Heading east, travelers go from Washoe, to Storey, to Lyon county in a distance of about a half-mile.

West Virginia has a section of Interstate 79 that cuts a corner of Gilmer County for less than a hundred feet. Just to the west, however, there’s another section of Gilmer that one enters for several hundred feet.

There are plenty of other examples on the Mob Rule page and I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t check them all. If I’d had time to do that, then perhaps I’d have seen better examples than the one James discovered during his travels. With that admission, I don’t know of other instances on Interstate Highways or major (two digit) U.S. Highways with shorter distances between three counties. Sure, I bet we could find some back-country road, but a highway?

How about it, folks? Is James onto something? Are there equally remarkable instances (other than the one in Washington, DC)? What about international examples?

Thanks again for the tip, James.

[1]James is working on a new website. He says it’s still under development so I plan to bookmark it and examine it again later.

On December 7, 2010 · 22 Comments

22 Responses to “Cut the Corner”

  1. Anthony says:

    I-80 runs for 1.19 miles through Napa County, California, but you’re not going to see two signs at once, because it rises from about el 320 to 500 then back down to about 440 in that short stretch. The American Canyon Road exit is *just* outside Napa County.

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  2. Greg says:

    Belgium is great for odd borders (Baarle is my example for almost every oddity). Here, the L106 between Konzen and M├╝tzenich, Germany, enters Belgium for maybe a half a mile. There are also plenty of non-Baarle examples of roadways split down the middle by Belgium’s borders. (What is it about Belgium and low-key borders?) I’m still looking for a motorway that does something similar.

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  3. Greg says:

    There’s also this tangle of roads in Monaco and France. Though, to be fair, essentially any road through Monaco is sort of a corner-cutter.

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  4. Joe says:

    Great article! Some that come to my mind are the intersection of US 27 and US 192 just west of Disney World in Central Florida. The Lake/Polk county line runs along the south edge of US 192 (at least according to streets and trips) and bisects the intersection. However, what makes this noteworthy is there is a second, perpendicular line just under a mile to the east of the intersection that introduces Osceola and Orange counties into the mix.

    My other example is the St. Louis Bypass I-270. On the north side of town where I-270 crosses the Mississippi River, I-270 briefly enters the City of St. Louis (which is an independent city and thus a county equivalent). The total length is about 2/3 of a mile, although that is misleading since around half of that distance is spent crossing the Mississippi River until reaching the State Line.

    Neither are quite as close or noteworthy as some that you posted, but still a couple of good examples.

    • Joshua says:

      This is too funny of a coincidence. I’m currently looking at a map project at work, sourcing out my research. It is Kissimmee, FL and I can clearly see how US 192 stradles the Polk/Lake and Orange/Osceola County borders.


  5. Doug says:

    Route 896 cuts across the northeast corner of Maryland for about 1000 feet. Going north on 896 from Delaware, you will encounter a welcome to Pennsylvania sign when you cross the East-West Mason-Dixon Line. Going south on 896 from Pennsylvania, you will encounter a welcome to Delaware sign when you cross the North-South Mason-Dixon line. However, there are no signs informing drivers that they were briefly in the State of Maryland.

    Also nearby is Hopkins Road which goes from DE to PA to DE. The road is only in PA for about 150 feet. However, there is an old dirt road (which is blocked off) that come from PA and intersects with Hopkins Road in the PA portion of the road. There is a PA no-parking sign in front of this blocked off road. The only way PA police could write a ticket on cars parked here illegally is to drive through DE first. DE police would not have any authority to write a ticket here. So, this no-parking sign is probably the most worthless sign of its type (in terms of how enforceable it is).

  6. Doug R. says:

    Iowa state Hwy 330 is a good example (yes, it is a state Hwy, but it is a major 4-lane that connects Des Moines to Marshalltown). Between Melbourne and Farrar it cuts the corner of Story county for a very short time – I would say about 5-8 seconds at 65 MPH. And it is signed in both directions, very easy to see both simultaneously!

  7. Cape May says:

    There is the Livermore Bridge in McLean County, Kentucky, which takes US 431 over the Rough River, crosses a tiny +/- 400 foot ishthmus of Ohio County formed by the confluence of the Rough River and Green River, and then exits Ohio County by crossing the Green River again.

    View Larger Map

    I cannot figure out how to imbed a Mapquest map, but here is a link:

    And here is a map put out by the local chamber of commerce:

  8. Steve says:

    Boy, have I got a mile for you to drive next time you’re up this way… Since no online map site will show town lines properly, you’ll have to take my word for it… there is a highly commercialized strech of Route 71 (known locally as New Britain Avenue) in CT that crosses town borders in such rapid-fire succession, geo-geeks’ heads spin. CT has a penchant for signing each town border, but due to the giant mall(s) here and endless stores, most of those signs have disappeared over the last 5 years.

    In one section, just about 1 mile long, the road goes from West Hartford to Farmington to Newington to Farmington to New Britain. At 2 spots you could see the sign/border for the next town when the signs were up. (The signs were only up heading west.)

    But more interestingly, because of CT’s town governance, each town sets up its own property tax laws. With all these malls and stores and 4 town borders snaking in adn through said malls and stores, it has been an endless boondoggle and has resulted in numberous court fights. The bulk of the Westfarms Mall belongs to Farmington, but one anchor store is West Hartford and the other end is Newington. But it gets better. As you can imagine, these anchor stores are the most lucrative/biggest and therefore the most important to town coffers. When a store like Nordstrom’s comes in (Newington) and Macy’s on the other (West Hartford – with Farmington in between), the towns desparately want the higher end store so they spruce up the place and the town can then say they owe more in property tax. (In CT, property tax is very expensive… West Hartford’s mill rate right now is 39.99… I should know, I live there.)

    Anyway, New Britain gets nothing but some crappy fast food and outlet joints but the other three towns fight and fight and re-asses their exact borders here all too often.

    Me? I do all my shopping online and pay taxes to no one.

  9. Ken says:

    Funny. I was just driving through Kansas yesterday and I noticed a similar oddity. I-70 just outside of Oakley, Kansas goes from Thomas to Logan to Gove counties in a couple hundred feet. The weird thing is in Kansas all of the counties are big and reletively retangular, not small and mishapen, which is where most of these other oddities come from.

  10. I’m no expert here, but I have an example I used to drive all the time between Huntsville, AL, and Chattanooga, TN. For a couple of miles on I-24 the interstate dips from Tennessee into Georgia, winds around some of the Appalachian foothills, and then right back into Tennessee. It’s a winding road and far enough that you can’t see the two signs at once, but the Georgia section of the drive is definitely marked.

    Also interesting is that this region is right on the Central/Eastern time zone border.

    • I love the premise behind your website by the way. We have a shared interest. I’ve combined mine with my fascination for maps.

      • Yeah, I know you’re a fellow beer geek. Hopefully you’ll check out my blog as I love getting new followers (I have so few!) I love your geography geek stuff, but it’s a bit outside my own experience, so while I rarely have anything to add your blog is one of the few that I make a must-visit.

        Cheers! Just shot a review of the Sam Adams/Weihenstephaner collaboration. It’s quite good, but probably not worth the price of the bottle.

        • You’re now on my Google Reader RSS list. ­čÖé

          My 2010 Alaskan Smoked Porters arrived in the mail on Monday. I can’t wait for my annual 5-year vertical tasting this weekend! — one of very few Holiday traditions in our family.

          • Oh, nice! I’ve always wanted to get ahold of some of that, but I’ve never been that far west or traded with anyone for it. My big vertical that I’ve got coming up is a 2005/2010 Double Bastard.

            I’ll stop geeking out about beer on your map blog now. Cheers! Enjoy that Smoked Porter!

  11. Greg says:

    It isn’t really a corner-cutter, but the stretch of NY’s Southern Tier Expy that dips in PA for about a mile is another example.

  12. Rhodent says:

    In Clarksville VA there is a similar situation to the Peach/Crawford/Bibb County example above, but it only involves two counties total. As you cross the Roanoke River on US 15-58 Bypass, you start off in Mecklenburg County, then while still on the bridge you briefly enter Halifax County and then return to Mecklenburg County.

  13. Mike Lowe says:

    While travelling in southern Mississippi recently, I used a corner cut to snag an extra county. MS state highway 583 southbound goes from Lincoln county, snips the SW corner of Lawrence county, and then enters Walthall county. The distance is about 1000 feet but it seemed less than that while driving.

  14. Chris Hobbs says:

    Here is a cut the corner from W. Virginia into Kentucky and back to W. Virginia.,-82.2983817,17.63z

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