That Recurring State Line

On January 8, 2017 · 6 Comments

A random Twelve Mile Circle reader became an unwitting inspiration for this article simply because of where he or she lived. The little dot within Idaho on my Google Analytics dashboard mentioned State Line. That seemed too good to be true. I’ve done plenty of articles about border towns although I’d never noticed that one before. It sounded like a good excuse to peel things back a layer and take a closer look.

State Line, Idaho

State Line Idaho
State Line, Idaho
via Google Street View, September 2016

State Line didn’t cover much area and only 38 people lived there (map). It seemed an odd situation until I uncovered a bit of history in an old newspaper article. This creation sprang to life in 1947 and existed for a very specific reason. Quite simply, "the town was incorporated so it could sell liquor and have slot machines." End of story.

Those who incorporated the town leveraged the adjacent state border, just enough over the line to fall outside of the laws of Washington State. Residents of the region’s dominant city — Spokane, Washington — needed only a short drive to take advantage of the more liberal alcohol and gambling rules of Idaho. Apparently incorporated towns in Idaho had some legal leeway to provide these services so State Line filled that niche. The town didn’t have to worry about do-gooders interfering with its business either; it carefully corralled a sympathetic population. I’ve explored similar themes before, e.g., in Right Up to the Line.

A lot of separate sins packed into that tiny package, too. I drove down Seltice Way, the main road through State Line, vicariously using Google Street View. From the border heading into Idaho I noticed a smokeshop, a liquor store, several taverns including a biker bar, and a building with no windows advertising "Show Girls." I wonder what could possibly be going on inside there? This is a family-friendly website so I’ll leave it at that. I also found the residential area consisting of a small trailer park. Maybe the show girls lived there? If so then one of them visited 12MC and landed on the Thelma and Louise Route Map. Maybe someone was planning a weekend getaway?

Stateline, Nevada

Stateline, Nevada at California Border, Lake Tahoe
Stateline, Nevada at California Border, Lake Tahoe
Photo by Ken Lund on Flickr (cc)

Idaho didn’t contain the only town with that familiar name. Stateline existed in Nevada, too. I talked about that one briefly in the Loneliest Road in the USA and it appeared in reader comments from time-to-time as well. South Lake Tahoe, on the California side, seemed like the average ski resort town. A gondola led up to the slopes, part of the Heavenly Mountain Resort. Just down the street, however, marked Nevada. Five humongous casinos rose starkly from the pavement barely inches onto the Nevada side of the border. This grouping represented the same basic premise as its Idaho counterpart, bringing convenient "sinful" businesses closer to the masses.

A morbid geo-oddity of sorts existed in Stateline. The ski resort included trails on both sides of the border. Skiers crossed the state border on several of the runs. That was a worthwhile oddity by itself of course, although that wasn’t the morbid part. Something awful happened there in 1998. That’s when Sonny Bono, the lesser-known half of Sonny and Cher, slammed into a tree on the Orion slope (map). Bono died in Stateline on a border-crossing trail.

Stateline, Kansas

Stateline existed as one of thirteen townships in Sherman County, Kansas. The name went back historically to the 19th Century and simply represented its geographic placement next to Colorado. Stateline didn’t exist to entice people across the border and only 344 people lived there in the most recent Census. The township contained only one settlement of any size, Kanorado (map), the home of about half of Stateline’s residents. That still made it large enough to serve as Sherman County’s second largest town. My attention automatically focused on that spot because, as longtime readers know, I love a good portmanteau. The name combined and shortened Kansas and Colorado into Kanorado. It’s website noted that someone originally named it Lamborn. I preferred Kanorado. Excellent choice.

This one also existed in a bit of a geo-oddity. Only four counties recognized Kansas Mountain Time, including Sherman County. Of course that also included Stateline Township and the village of Kanorado. From my experience driving directly through there on Interstate 70 several years ago, I couldn’t determine why the area felt more aligned to Mountain Time. It seemed really remote, regardless. Either one should be fine. Nonetheless residents apparently felt otherwise and aligned chronologically with Colorado. Actually, as I thought about it more, Stateline should probably exist on the Colorado side instead. Colorado seemed to feature more sins than Kansas, particularly cannabis and perhaps alcohol too. The current Stateline alignment represented lost economic opportunities.

Others Even More Obscure

State Line Pond, Connecticut

I found other State Lines and Statelines. For instance, check out State Line Pond in Connecticut. It also had its own website, believe it or not. From its description,

State Line Pond is an approximately 75 acre lake in Stafford Springs, Connecticut on the Massachusetts border at Monson, MA. The lake was formed when a stream running through a meadow was intentionally flooded approximately 150 years ago. For many years, the Stafford Ice House "harvested" ice by horse from the lake during the winter and delivered it to restaurants, homes and businesses as far away as Boston.

Even more obscure places existed in the form of State Line, Mississippi and State Line, Indiana. I couldn’t find much about either place other than their existence.

On January 8, 2017 · 6 Comments

6 Responses to “That Recurring State Line”

  1. Fritz Keppler says:

    My grandfather died in State Line, Mississippi, when he and other soldiers from Fort Morgan AL were on their way to the Mississippi-Alabama State Fair in Meridian in October 1913 as the train they were riding on derailed atop a trestle crossing Buckatunna Creek. About 13 were killed, many more injured. He had seen my mother only once, and she was just a month old when he died there. In 1993, after finding the location from a friend interested in genealogy, I sent a letter to the postmaster there with the request to pass it along to a local historian. He did so, and a few weeks later my sister, mother, father and I were in the back of a pickup truck belonging to a friend of his, riding over the bumpy railbed to the newer trestle of the old GM&O railroad so she could see the place for the first time.

  2. Scott Surgent says:

    There is a small hotel-gas station on the Nevada-Utah state line where US-6/50 crosses it, roughly an hour east of Great Basin National Park. The gas and restaurant are on the Nevada side where alcohol and gambling are allowed, and the hotel is on the Utah side, where sleeping is allowed. They even paint a line on the pavement in case you are not sure.

    One of the worst examples of this is Whiteclay, Nebraska, which lies on the South Dakota line and exists to sell alcohol to the residents of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, which is dry. The town of Pine Ridge is a couple miles north of the boundary, and on my one visit passing through, the whole way between Whiteclay and Pine Ridge were people walking to and from Whiteclay, many passed out along the road.

    On a much smaller scale, but still equally maddening, is here in Scottsdale, Arizona. The eastern boundary is with the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Reservation (which is dry), and there are small minimarts that sell nothing but alcohol at high prices that lie right on the Scottsdale side of the boundary.

  3. Ken Saldi says:

    Scott, I have stayed at that hotel gas station in Stateline. My son and I missed the last tour of Lehman Caves in Great Basin NP and decided to wait til the next day. We actually walked for about a mile right on the state line.

    As for those 5 counties in Kansas that recognize mountain time, that is because the hub city is Burlington, CO. So when the farmers are selling their wares, they would historically go there and they wanted to match Burlington’s time. Or at least that is what people in Goodland, KS told me.

    I have been on that stretch of I-70 many times and it always amuses me that my home state of Colorado is considered so Mountainy, yet half of the state is as flat as Kansas.

  4. Ed V says:

    Those of us in Southern California think of Stateline as the gambling resort town of Primm, Nevada, located where I-15 crosses the border a few miles south of Las Vegas. There are a few hotel/casinos, an outlet mall, huge gas station, and restaurants. At the far end of one parking lot is a store (just over the border) that sells California lottery tickets. When jackpots are large Nevadans stop here, saving the drive south to Nipton, CA.

  5. Joshua D says:

    Stretching the stateline concept internationally, there’s La Línea de la Concepción on the border of Spain and Gibraltar. I visited there this past October on vacation with my wife. We parked our rental car in La Línea de la Concepción and then walked over the border to Gibraltar. That included walking across the Gibraltar airport runway, and we got to see at least one plane land, which was awesome.

  6. Fritz Keppler says:

    Back in 1967 you could only go one way across the line at La Linea. I parked my car there, and we spent a couple of days in Gibraltar, then took the hydrofoil to Tangier, and after touring there a little bit, took a regular boat back to Algeciras and a bus to La Linea to pick up the car. Quite a circuitous route, but enjoyable.

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