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Utah Travel Headlines

Friday, July 30, 2010

Four Corners Monument Closed on Weekdays For Construction

The Four Corners Monument, marking the spot where Utah, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico meet, is being renovated and will only be open on weekends until September. As a result, some tourists are going away frustrated.

The site is on reservation land that is administered by the Navajo Tribe. The tribe controls access and development.

The New York Times has this article about the project. Below are excerpts.

“They can’t do this!” she (Jessie Carol Azcue, age 8) shouted when she saw the sign, “Closed Due to Construction,” at the access road off Route 160 near the Colorado-New Mexico border. Getting the few hundred yards farther to the Arizona and Utah nexus, for the full four-state effect, was not allowed. What amounts for most tourists to a wait in line followed by a photo-opportunity star turn — standing in the exact geometric corner point, typically, or splayed with a limb in each state — was denied by chain link.

“This is the only reason we came all the way from Dallas,” said Jessie’s mother, Zoila Light.

The Navajo Nation, which manages Four Corners, has clearly posted the construction schedule and visiting times — open Friday, Saturday and Sunday only, until September — on the tribe’s Web site.

Four Corners is not particularly beautiful, but for the stark emptiness of it, and nothing of particular historic note has ever happened there beyond the intersection of some survey lines. And there is the almost metaphysical controversy about whether the monument is even in the right place. One report last year said the survey team in the 1800s missed the mark by a couple of miles. (The National Geodetic Survey, a federal agency that oversees the coordinate system for all things mapped and charted, said the discrepancy between the intended and actual spot for the monument was really only about 1,800 feet, and that, in any event, it is now the legally recognized boundary.)

But if the construction gate — sadly, located in only one state, New Mexico — forestalled that rich experience, it also in many ways created its own destination. The sign advising visitors about the closing was covered with mixed graffiti messages of frustration and humor, and served as the backdrop for pictures by many of those who had come this far and almost made it.

One man, who gave his name as Tracker, rode up on a motorcycle with his friends, all former Marines, all Vietnam veterans, all from New Jersey, he said.

“I came 2,500 miles,” Tracker said as he opened the gate. “I’m going in!”

The motorcycles, and their grizzled, leather-clad riders roared through and away on the dusty construction road while the crowd watched.

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