Monument One

Lying in a swamp deep in the woods of the boundary wildlands lies a formidable testament to the political history of this region. It is a bold, silver monument on a large concrete base—ten feet tall—a stark contrast to the natural surroundings.

Location
Amity, ME
Size
5 Acres
Date Protected
October 2023
Classification
Public
Features
Hiking
Wildlife Watching

A Special Place

     Since 2017, our “Headwaters Forest” north of East Grand Lake has grown to 4,652 acres, protecting the American side of Monument Brook and its many tributaries. We are thrilled to announce that the property’s recreation value has now been enhanced by the purchase of the land surrounding Monument One!

    Lying in a swamp deep in the woods of the boundary wildlands lies a formidable testament to the political history of this region. It is a bold, silver monument on a large concrete base—ten feet tall—a stark contrast to the natural surroundings. It is accessed by no road or trail, and is rarely visited by humans. The first permanent marker was placed here in August of 1843, identifying the precise point of the northernmost source of the St. Croix River, and to which all survey points along the eastern border between the United States and Canada are referenced—both northward to the St. John River, and southward along river and lake channels to the Atlantic Ocean.

     Monument One is the first land-based survey reference marking the international boundary. The tall obelisk is much larger than others due to its geographic importance, but also its historical significance.

     The Webster-Ashburton Treaty, signed August 9, 1842, between the United States and Great Britain, resolved what is known as the Aroostook War. The Treaty of Paris (1783), ending the American Revolutionary War, was vague regarding the eastern boundary between the U.S. and the British North American colonies (Canada, as a self-governing nation including New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, formed in 1867.) This led to many land squabbles among area residents, primarily over timber rights. The conflict escalated in the 1830s, resulting in the assembly of militias and various confrontations. Nobody was killed, although U.S. General Winfield Scott was sent here to restore order and garner a truce.

     The treaty was negotiated between the U.S. Secretary of State Daniel Webster and British diplomat Alexander Baring, First Baron Ashburton. There were the usual political shenanigans to sell the proposal to the locals and politicians of that era. A new boundary line, compromising opposing claims, was established at its present location. In 1843, a bilateral survey group, under guidance from Sir G.B. Airy (the British Astronomer Royal), carved a swath through the wilderness and set the defining survey point for the eastern boundary.

     So, here it lies in a remote swamp in the “middle of nowhere.” Very few people have ever seen it in 180 years! That may change soon.

     Since our acquisition of woodlands near Monument Brook in Amity, ME, beginning in early 2018, many individuals and several conservation foundations have urged WWLT to establish a hiking trail through the forest to Monument One. It’s a great idea. But we really did not understand the relation of property bounds to the Monument, the details of abutting properties, the physical terrain, or the logistics of getting overland to the site. Survey data was nebulous. A WWLT-sponsored visit to the site in 2017 entailed traversing many rough logging roads in New Brunswick, thence through the woods and across the swamp to the marker.

     Several of us repeated that trek in August to better understand the situation. (Yes, we got our feet wet!) WWLT’s property fell short by about a hundred yards. This led to in-person dialogue with the couple who owned the property around Monument One. WWLT evaluated options, such as the pursuit of an easement or written permission, and decided to try to buy it. The landowners, Mr. and Mrs. Jason Remillard, have been very cooperative. Eventually, we came to an agreement, and we are pleased to announce that we have now closed on the purchase.

      Time and expenditures are still required to plan and create a hiking trail through the forest and across a swamp to Monument One. But we are excited. How rare an opportunity to purchase a historic site, and to enable others a chance to see it first-hand! The experience, like the monument itself, is truly unique.

      As with other projects, we welcome any contributions you might give. Sellers wish to implement land transactions immediately—not wait for some fundraising campaign. Consequently, we have to invade our savings to get things done soon. With purchase price, transaction costs, legal fees, stewardship funds, trail planning, and construction, etc., we anticipate the need for roughly $35,000. The final amount will be determined via surveys and a contractor proposal process.

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