A Linear Portrait of the USA/Canada Border
The 45th Parallel, the line of latitude halfway between the equator and the North Pole, was officially named as the border for this region in 1783, and parts were surveyed even before that, in 1771-1772. A survey starting in 1845 set the majority of the early cast iron monuments along the line. These early surveys introduced errors which, after some debate, were finally accepted as the official boundary. As a result the boundary zigs and zags over the 45th Parallel, sometimes deviating by more than a mile.
Though it is only 155 miles long, this portion of the boundary, known also as the West Line, is dense. The (sort of) straight line cuts through a rural, agricultural landscape of New England, New York, and Lower Canada that was already partially settled by the time the surveyors showed up in the early 19th century to find the 45th parallel on the ground, and officially divide the territory, anchored now with more than 420 monuments. As a result, this is where most of the houses bisected by the line can be found. All 90 miles of the top of Vermont is along the 45th Parallel, and less than 50 miles from the Canadian cities of Montreal and Sherbrooke. There are 15 official border crossings along Vermont’s boundary, averaging out to one every six miles.
Coming from the east, the complexity of Vermont’s border landscape begins almost immediately, after the boundary descends from its chaotic journey from New Hampshire, along Halls Stream, and landing at Beecher Falls, Vermont, on the 45th Parallel.
The entirety of the state line between Vermont and New Hampshire is the Connecticut River, with one exception, at the 45th. Here, the river curves to the east, 1/3rd of a mile south of the point that is the intersection of Halls Stream and the 45th Parallel, which was established as the international boundary point in the 18th century. The river meanders eastward for another two miles past its confluence with Halls Stream, before curving north and finally crossing the 45th parallel. This creates a two mile sliver of Vermont that is surrounded by New Hampshire on three sides, capped by a two mile stretch of the 45th Parallel, serving as a state boundary.
The 45th Parallel begins its terrestrial border manifestation by crawling up the western bank of the Connecticut River, and crossing River Road, which expresses the change in statehood with the usual subtle shift in pavement color, based on different blends of asphalt from each state’s road maintenance crews.
On the other side of the road is a granite monument from 1934, which sets in stone the line between Canaan, Vermont, and Pittsburg, New Hampshire, and declares the northeast corner of Vermont to be a point in the river that is 314 feet east from the center of the monument.
The line runs westward through the woods for nearly two miles, then across Halls Stream Road, and into the bushes and Halls Stream itself, where it undergoes a transformation from state line to a federal one, emerging on the other side of the stream as the terrestrial International Boundary.
The boundary begins its journey along the top of Vermont along the property line of the original Ethan Allen Furniture factory.
Out of this plant came the furnishings for the oval office for a number of Presidential administrations. The plant laid off most of its 500 workers a few years ago, and is currently in limbo, though the company continues to operate a plant in Orleans, Vermont.
Then the line goes through Highway 102, which travels under a part of the plant, and enters Canada at the Beecher Falls /East Hereford Crossing, the first of 15 manned border crossings along the top of Vermont.
West of the crossing, the border runs through the woods to the next crossing, at Canaan, three miles away.
Along the highway between the two is a new Border Patrol regional headquarters, where vehicles and field personnel are based, and where hundreds of cameras and sensors positioned at remote parts of the border are monitored.
The Canaan/Hereford crossing has a Port of Entry on either side of the line.
It is considered a lightly traveled crossing, like the one at Beecher Falls.
The boundary comes from the east, where the cut-line is visible in the distance, then crosses the road.
The boundary splits an old building on the other side of the road in half. The two-story wooden structure, more than 100 feet long, used to be a store, with exterior doors on each side of the line, and a connecting door between them inside.
It was also a watering hole, popular during Prohibition, when liquor could be legally bought and consumed on the Canadian side. The building is unoccupied, and in disrepair, though its owner holds on to it, to the chagrin of the Boundary Commission.
A few miles further west, the boundary passes through Wallace Pond, where people from both countries can meet out on the water.
Five miles further west the border is crossed by high tension lines, bringing electricity to New England from Quebec.
The next border crossing, known as Norton/Stanhope, is actually a double crossing.
In addition to the manned crossing with dual Ports of Entry on Highway 114, there is another unmanned crossing nearby on Nelson road. This is a rare, remaining “uncontrolled crossing,” though it is closely monitored by cameras and sensors. People passing through here are required to check in at the nearby Ports of Entry, before proceeding on – so they might as well drive through on the main road to begin with.
There is a house on the line here, with two front doors, one on either side of the line. This used to be store, where there were shelves and cash registers for the different goods available on either side.
Seven miles further west is an old farm called the Line Farm, with a field that extends north of the border. This is not that unusual, though the land here is not being farmed anymore.
The unoccupied house is just a few feet south of the line.
A barn, next to the house, was on the line, and was encouraged to let fall down. Beyond it, the cut line can be seen plunging into the valley below, towards Derby Line.
The Derby Line/Stanstead road crossing, on the east side of town, is the second-most heavily used of the 15 border crossings in Vermont. It is the crossing for Interstate 91, connecting Sherbrooke and the Eastern Townships of Quebec, with the interstate artery that follows the Connecticut River to Massachusetts, and beyond.
West of the Interstate crossing, the community of Derby Line, Vermont/Stanstead, Quebec has the densest cluster of line buildings on the entire boundary.
The line enters town, first crossing Maple Street/Rue Ball, where a barricade has been constructed on the US side, and the line grazes a Canadian garage.
The gates, located in a few other roads crossing the line in town, were installed a few years ago, as a method to limit travel over the border. They can be opened remotely, to permit emergency personnel to pass, as fire departments can respond to calls on either side of the line.
The next street in town that is crossed by the line is Lee Street/Rue Lee, also gated with an electric gate.
A large Victorian house is divided by the boundary.
Across the street, part of the foundation of a house.
The next structure bisected by the line is the Haskell Library and Opera House, intentionally built on the line by its benefactors in 1904, to celebrate the friendship between the two countries. The line hits the east side of the building obliquely, where two separate fire escapes had to be built, one in the US, and one for Canada. Many such redundancies and building code complexities have to be tolerated by the building managers. After repairing the roof a few years ago, the building’s owners were sued for not hiring a Canadian contractor to work on the Canadian portion of the roof.
Inside the library the line has been painted on the floor, indicating the boundary passing through the lobby …
…reference room …
…and through the theater upstairs.
Outside, a boundary monument clearly shows the line emerging out of the rotunda tower of the building.
Outside, on Church Street/Rue Church, a row of heavy planters has been placed on the street, blocking traffic over the line, instead of a gate.
This international cul-de-sac in the central part of town has become a favorite spot for Border Patrol to hang out.
On the other side of the street, a small apartment building is divided by the line. Most tenants use the door on the US side to go both in and out, to avoid problems with border patrol.
Next to it is another apartment building also split by the line.
Across Main Street/Rue Dufferin, another building divided in half, with doors on either side, and a Boundary Commission plaque locating the line between them.
The apartment building behind it is split by the line too, making a total of five inhabited structures, divided by the line, not including the library.
Main Street/Rue Dufferin, with three of the line buildings along it, has a Canadian and a US port of Entry on either side of the line, where people must report immediately after crossing the boundary elsewhere in town, by foot or car. However crossing the line inside buildings does not need to be reported, so long as you leave on the same side that you entered.
The last and largest building straddling the boundary in Derby Line is the Tivoly Incorporated plant, where 160 people work, primarily making industrial drill bits and dies for a company based in France. The machine plant was purchased by Tivoly in 1991, and parts of it are 100 years old.
It was built on top of the Tomifobia River that provided power for the mill, and which happens also to flow along the international boundary at this point. The Tivoly complex is the remnant of a larger network of plants that operated along the river and the international boundary in town, until the 1920s, when several were closed after a widespread illicit international trade scandal, involving federal politicians in Ottawa.
The other mill buildings on the line have been torn down, and an old industrial crossing over the river on Baxter Avenue is gated and monitored by Border Patrol.
A mile further west is the community of Beebee Plain, which also straddles the line. Canusa Road/Rue Canusa, whose name is an obvious reference to its condition, comes westward from Stanstead, Quebec, and lines up right along the boundary for 1/3 of a mile.
Houses on the south side of the street are in the USA, while those on the north side of the street are in Canada. Some home owners on the US side have found this condition too complicated to endure, even though there is a border crossing at the end of the block, and a few houses are empty.
At the west end of Canusa Road is the Beebee Plain/Stanstead border crossing, where travelers on the road, who are considered to be in Canada, can turn south and check in at the US Port of Entry,
or go north, past the Canadian Port of Entry.
The 45th Parallel, of course continues westwards, and runs through a house at the end of the road.
A boundary marker next to the front door has been buried almost to its tip, but is the only visible boundary monument on Canusa Road.
The boundary goes through the back yard behind the house, and hits the back part of a small industrial structure. This is the Rock of Ages plant, which is otherwise mostly in Canada.
Rock of Ages, based near its famous quarries in Barre, Vermont, is the largest manufacturer of tombstones in north America. It operates this plant to work with Stanstead Grey Granite, which is quarried locally, in Canada. The quarries around Stanstead are also the source for many of the large granite boundary monuments along the 45th Parallel. Beyond this region, boundary monuments are generally made of metal or concrete.
In North Derby, west of Beebee Plain, there used to be a border crossing with a Canadian Port of Entry, but none on the US side. Travelers could only use it to go into Canada, but not into the US. The crossing, on Smuggler’s Road, has been closed, and the Canadian Port of Entry was converted into a home.
Neighboring houses are again separated by the line.
The road on the US side comes close enough that it touches the boundary.
Several thin orange composite posts planted along the road have the following warning, in small type: “Warning: you are on or near the international boundary. No construction of trees within 10ft/3m of the International Boundary. For more information please contact: United States Section (202) 736-9100 or Canadian Section (613) 992-1294 www.internationalboundarycommission.org”. These posts can be found at many locations like this, where public right of way comes within the ten foot/three meters zone of the boundary.
A mile further west down the road is Lake Memphremagog, a large recreational lake well known in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, and which is split by the boundary. The boundary runs through the southern end of Isle de La Province, a privately owned island in the middle of the lake. The cut line, maintained by the IBC, makes even this isolated small segment of the border visible, and a monument, number 571, marks the line on the island as well.
West of the lake are two roads that used to cross the line, on Lake Road and Leadville Road, but which are now closed off, and the road surface covered over. On Leadville Road, a former line house has been removed, and the Canadian Port of Entry building has been turned into a private home. There are dozens of old roads in Vermont that used to cross the border that were unmonitored and uncontrolled. Nearly all of them have been bermed over, dug up, or blocked off and abandoned, over the past fifty or more years. In the old days of a more open border, officials relied on the honor system – people crossing would report to the nearest customs station on their own – or not, which was likely more often the case.
West of Lake Memphremagaog, the next official, open, and legal crossing on the boundary is at North Troy/Highwater, on Highway 243, a small crossing with Ports of Entry on either side of the line. The USA Port building is of the new, modernist shed type, as it is one of a few crossings in Vermont (as well as in Maine, New York, and other states) that were recently replaced as part of the federal government’s stimulus initiatives in 2011.
A mile west of that a pipeline crosses the boundary, bringing crude oil from a terminal in Portland, Maine to a refinery in Montreal.
A pumping station for the 240 mile-long pipeline is on the Canadian side of the line.
A few hundred yards west of the pumping station is a closed and overgrown crossing that used to pass through the testing grounds of the Space Research Corporation, known as the Highwater Range. Space Research Corporation was a weapons company founded by Gerald Bull, famous for inventing a supergun capable of shooting large projectiles for many miles. Versions of the gun were tested here through the 1960s and 1970s, including tests for a model commissioned by Saddam Hussein, that was supposed to be capable of lobbing projectiles from Iraq to Israel.
The Highwater Range, with test and manufacturing facilities, was built on Bull’s family’s land. It was closed in 1980, after he was convicted for violating the arms embargo against South Africa. Bull was later assassinated, allegedly by Israeli intelligence.
For a period there was a customs inspection station outside the company’s south gate for southbound traffic, but there was no northern/Canadian station, as the company was based in Canada. The former boundary crossing point is abandoned and overgrown, fading from existence, like the rest of the Highwater Range.
In the woods along the border west of the range is the northern end of the Long Trail, one of a few lengthy hiking trails in the USA that end at the border, or continue past it into Canada. The Long Trail is the oldest of these trails, and was the inspiration for the more famous Appalachian Trail (which ends in Maine, a hundred miles from the border). The Long Trail, built from 1910 to 1930, takes 273 miles to traverse the whole state of Vermont, from south to north.
The next crossing on the line is the East Richford/Glen Sutton crossing, on the Missisquoi River, which is very quiet, and even more so for the US border officials, whose Port of Entry is open 24/7, while the Canadian Port of Entry is open only until 4PM.
The crossing area has some unusual features. Corliss Road, which used to cross the line from the south, between the Ports of Entry, has been closed. But Chemain Cushion, which enters Canada on the east side of the river, without a Port of Entry, is another of the few remaining “uncontrolled crossings,” though its southern end terminates at Highway 105, directly in front of the US Port of Entry, so illegal crossings here are a problem going into Canada, and not out of Canada. Also, east of the station, East Richford Slide Road passes into and out of Canada on a curve, unmarked, and probably unknown to most drivers.
Next to the road is a graveyard that is split by the line, with some graves in Canada, and some in the USA. The boundary here is unmarked too, and though the Boundary Commission has considered putting their own granite marker among the headstones, they decided its best to leave these souls rest in peace, in whichever country they thought they were buried in.
Four miles west is the Richford/Abercorn Crossing, on Route 139, is open 24/7, and averages around 300 cars per day, relatively busy, compared to others in rural Vermont. It has the old federal style crossing station, as do around half of the crossings in the state.
West of it is a cattle farm that is on the line. The road at the farm continues into Canada, as do the fields, though both are allowed to be used only by farmers working the fields from the US side.
The farm is now operated by the younger members of the Hurtubise family, whose parents established the farm, and who live in a farmhouse that is split nearly exactly in half by the line. In the living room, facing the television, Mr. Hurtubise’s chair is in Canada, and Mrs. Hurtubise’s chair is in the USA.
Behind the house is a border boundary marker, next to the barn, suggesting that a few inches of the barn extend into Canada. Beyond it the cut-line can be seen heading over the mountains to the east.
A mile west down the line from the farm is the Richford/East Pinnacle crossing, on Pinnacle road, where a new US Port of Entry was built couple of years ago. This is one of the lowest volume crossings in Vermont, with between 3 and 20 cars passing through per day. The Canadian Port of Entry has reduced its hours to 8am-4pm, and is considering closing it completely, despite the new multimillion dollar Port of Entry on the US side.
A new road was built to feed traffic through the new station, bypassing the old surface of Pinnacle Road, which now ends abruptly. Lines on the old roadway routing traffic to the site of the former U.S. Port of Entry, now covered in grass, are still visible.
Its six miles west down the line until the next official crossing of the boundary, the West Berkshire/Frelighsburg crossing, another low volume rural crossing, with old-style, small Ports of Entry on either side.
Past that, a high tension line crosses the border near Morses Line. Hydro Quebec is one of the largest electrical utilities in North America, and supplies most of the electricity consumed in northern New England.
The Morses Line Crossing started in 1871, when the Morse family opened a store directly on the line, a building now long gone. Today the crossing averages around 80 vehicles a day, making it among the least used of the 15 crossings in Vermont.
The Canadian Port of Entry is considering installing a remote check in kiosk that can be used by pre-screened crossers after hours, so they don’t need to run a second shift of officers. The US Port of Entry building is old and worn, constructed in 1935, and all traffic on the road, such as it is, is funneled through its one lane carport. It was among the first to be considered for replacement once the $420 million stimulus money was awarded to the Department of Homeland Security to upgrade Ports of Entry along the entire border a few years ago.
The Rainville family, whose home is between the Ports of Entry, and whose cornfield surrounds the US Port, refused to sell the government the land they needed, and then protested loudly and effectively when preparations were being made to take five acres of it by eminent domain. So Homeland Security proposed closing the Port here all together, which the local community has been protesting (with the exception, of course, of the Rainvilles).
Whatever happens at Morses Line, it is just five miles west to the next border crossing, Highgate Springs/St. Armand, the busiest crossing on the Vermont boundary. Northbound the divided highway goes to Montreal, and southbound it goes to Burlington, Vermont, via Interstate 89. West of the Port of Entry building Homeland Security built a new cattle inspection facility, which is yet to be put into use, despite the high volume of cows carried back and forth over the line here. West of that, the boundary enters the waters of Lake Champlain.
Halfway across the lake, the line clips the tip of Province Point, making a tiny uninhabited US exclave of sorts.
Then the line makes landfall on the Alburg Tongue, a large peninsula projecting into the lake from the north.
The line comes ashore on the Alburg Tongue and passes through the Alburg Springs/Clarenceville crossing, a low-volume border crossing on the shore of Lake Champlain.
The line continues west through the peninsula, crossing some railroad tracks, then through a closed crossing, on Henry Road.
Many of these small uncontrolled crossings like this in western Vermont and upstate New York were barricaded for security purposes in the 1970s, in preparation for the 1976 Olympic games held in Montreal, less than 35 miles away from this point.
The barricade here, on Henry Road, is made of a row of concrete blocks, just a few inches inside the US, attested to by a fresh monument, number 638, installed by the Boundary Commission in 2013.
There is an old line house at the former crossing, abandoned and overgrown in the bushes.
Beyond the barricade, Henry Road continues north, into Canada, as if nothing has changed.
Westward the line passes an occupied house on the US side, then continues down the cut line.
After passing trough a forested area for a mile, the line grazes the north wall of a house, and crosses Blair Road/Chemain de la 4 Concession, which has been barricaded.
It then heads west along Leduc Drive. Though it is less than a mile long, Leduc Drive is a well monumented dirt road, as the boundary line runs at a slight diagonal relative to the road, slowly crossing it over the course of a half mile.
Cars driving west start out in the USA, and end up in Canada, without obvious warning – though the road ends at an intersection immediately in front of the Alburgh/Noyan Port of Entry.
This Port of Entry building is a shared Port of Entry, intentionally built on the boundary, allowing customs and immigrations officers from both countries to work in one structure. Built in the early 1980s, this was the first of this type, intended to be more efficient in terms of operating costs, and space. Designed with input from the Boundary Commission, the building has floor to ceiling windows on either side where the boundary passes through it, preserving the line of sight along the boundary, symbolically at least.
Inside, this shared part of the office is a kind of international zone, an under-utilized break area, with a table, water cooler, and a dehydrated ficus tree. While the officials carry out their duties in separate spaces, with windows to interview the drivers coming and going on opposite sides of the building, they work within earshot of one another, so there is some office banter, and occasional official business that benefits from the proximity.
The shared space also has the more fundamental effect of uniting the two forces in their common task, as, despite being governed by separate laws, and facing different directions, they are, essentially, doing the same thing. Uniting the enforcement teams under one roof suggests that they work, together, for a greater good, in international space. At least that was part of the idea, though only five of these shared Ports of entry have been constructed, and the two built in the post 9/11 period are severely divided inside. The agents here though may have lots of time to chat though, as the Alburgh /Noyan crossing is one of the slowest in the state, with as few as 20 cars per day.
Outside the inspectors window, on the Canadian side, is an old line house, abandoned and crumbling in the bushes, across the road. Heading west, this is the last manned crossing station in Vermont.
Two miles west of the crossing, the line passes through one more building before passing out of Vermont.
The building is a small seasonal dwelling, overlooking the water of Lake Champlain, that was restored 15 or so years ago, without the consent of the Boundary Commission. This is an important place for the Commission, directly on the waterfront of a major and historic waterway, and on the edge of the state of Vermont. Not only does the house block the line of site, it sits where a shoreline range marker should be.
The Commission has recently constructed a large boundary monument, nearly blocking the front door of the structure. It has also made an agreement with the owner to turn the wall that faces the water into a range marker.
Beyond the house, the cut line through the trees on the New York/Quebec boundary is visible on the other side of the water.
This northwestern arm of Lake Champlain transitions here into the Richelieu River, which flows into the St. Lawrence River, near Montreal. The river is a significant historic route connecting the US and Canada, a pathway for troops during skirmishes between the two nations, which is why the Americans established a fort here, on the New York side, as early as 1816, to defend the US from British Canada.
It was later discovered that, due to a surveying error, the 45th Parallel, and thus the US/Canada border, was three quarters of a mile south of the fort, which put the fort in Canada. It became known as Fort Blunder. With the signing of the Webster-Ashburton Treaty in 1842, which set the boundary through the region as the 45th Parallel, as previously surveyed, the boundary moved back to the former, incorrect 45th, and the fort thus became part of the US again.
A new and better fort, now called Fort Montgomery, was built at the site from 1844 to 1871, though it never saw battle, and it was eventually decommissioned. Much of its cut stone walls were ground up for aggregate to build a bridge that now crosses the lake, near the fort. The fort and the land around it is in private hands, and has been on the market for years.
The bridge across the lake lands just south of the fort, where there is a dock for Border Patrol boats, defending the nation's perimeter still, along the banks of the Richelieu.
On the west side of the fort property is the US Port of Entry for the Rouses Point/Lacolle border crossing, the easternmost of the 10 Ports of Entry along the 45th parallel boundary in New York State. The Port of Entry is nearly ¾ of a mile south of the border itself. This, presumably, is not as a precaution against a revision of the Webster-Ashburton Treaty.
The line continues west and meets up with Route 276, which turns west to follow the border on the US side for a mile.
Up to the boundary crossing known as Overton Corners/Lacolle, where there is a quarry and a golf course on the north side of the line.
Two miles west is the former Meridan Road crossing, now closed, with an old US Port of Entry building now unused next to the road. A half miles further west is the Champlain/Lacolle crossing, on Interstate 87, one of the busiest crossings in the country.
I-87 travels through the Adirondacks, and is the most direct route between New York City, and Montreal, less than 30 miles north of here. Over 2 million travelers come through each year, more than half a million just in the summer months of July and August. A major gas line also crosses the border here, on the west side of the station.
West of the Champlain crossing, and less than half a mile from the border is a former Atlas F Missile Intercontinental Missile Silo, operational in the 1960s to protect America from Soviet attack. It is one of several historic missile silos within a mile of the Canadian Border, including another near Alburgh, Vermont. The current owner of the silo bought it off of Ebay in 2006, and is working on restoring it, though without the missile.
Mooers/Hemminford is the next manned crossing west of I-87, seven miles away, at Route 22. It is a lightly traveled crossing, with an old style brick Port of Entry on the US side.
A couple of miles west of it is Blackman Corners Road, which used to cross the line, but was barricaded in the 1970s.
There is an old farm house along the north side of the line in the bushes, that the neighbors say is still occupied.
The driveway and doorway is off the road on the Canadian side of the barricade, though a mailbox remains for the house on the US side. If its occupants ever emerge to pick up their mail, they will likely not do so unobserved, as there is a Border Patrol camera in a tree, trained on the barricaded road.
Another five miles west down the line is the Cannon Corners/Covey Hill crossing, another lightly used remote crossing, with a new, post-911 Port of Entry.
An old Port of Entry, now a home, is located 2.5 miles south of the crossing, at Cannon Corners. In the old days, this station, and ones like it, served as a regional honor system check point for a few of the previously uncontrolled crossings in the area.
Nine miles west of the Cannon Corners crossing is the Churubusco/Franklin crossing. This was a slow enough crossing that Canadian officials closed and demolished their Port of Entry here in 2011. The Americans, however, continued with their plans to upgrade this one, along with dozens of others all over the country, to a more up to date, post-9/11 standard.
The new US Port of Entry here opened in 2013, featuring a structure that is identical to some others of this type along the New York boundary line. It cost more than $10 million. With the Canadian crossing permanently closed, this is a rare, one-way border crossing, and sees even less travel than it did before.
Nearby, at the former town of Frontier, is a former unmanned crossing, that was closed and barricaded in the 1970s.
Like most other closed and barricaded crossings, it has motion sensors that trigger alarms in a Border Patrol facility far away, alerting someone to watch the camera at the location for potentially illegal activity.
A few miles further is another closed and barricades crossing, on Earlville Road.
Here a barn has collapsed in the vista-line, no doubt to the pleasure of the Boundary Commission, which refuses most applications for construction permits, even for repairs, for buildings inside their 20 foot wide jurisdiction.
The next manned crossing west down the line is Chateauguay/Herdman, seven miles from the previous one, at Churubusco. It is on Route 374, and has relatively few crossings. The US Port of Entry is in the old, federal brick style, and has not been replaced yet. A barn on the west side of the crossing is clipped by the line.
Less than five miles west from the Chateauguay crossing is the Jamieson Line crossing. Very lightly traveled, with as few as 6 cars a day, the Canadians closed their Port of Entry here in 2011, and have torn it down.
It operated as a one-way crossing after that until the US Port of Entry was closed in August, 2014.
The gates on the line have since been closed, and the small Port of Entry will likely be torn down soon. There is a still occupied private home on the US side of the line, with a collapsing garage across the street, that is clipped by the line.
Its nearly seven miles to the next crossing west of Jamieson Line: the Trout River crossing at Highway 30, where there are a few buildings that are directly on the international boundary.
One of them is a duty free store that has been shuttered for years. Before that is what was a bar and restaurant called the Frontier Grill.
The line runs diagonally through the building, and there is a door into Canada from an earlier part of the structure out back, which served as the home for the owners of the Frontier Grill. The main entrance facing the road is in the USA.
Next to the store is a small apartment building, also divided diagonally by the line. Some of the border officers working across the street in the Port of Entry have lived here.
On the back side of the building, the exterior door and landing for the apartment on the second floor is in Canada, though the landing at the bottom of the exterior stairs is in the US.
Boundary monument number 738A is in the yard outside, and draws the line to a fine degree.
It shows that the south edge of the small barn in back is also cut by the line.
Behind the barn, the line crosses the Trout River, and continues as a vista line into the distance, past a swimming pool in another back yard.
Across the street, on the west side of the crossing, is an occupied private home, directly on the line, accessible from Canada.
Ten miles further west is the Fort Covington/Dundee Crossing, at Route 132.
On the west side of the border crossing is the Salmon River, which empties into the St. Lawrence, two miles north.
On the east side of the road a three story building known as the Halfway House, straddles the boundary thoroughly, and proudly. Like the buildings at Trout River, this structure was not built on the border, it was here before the boundary line was measured precisely. The border was built on it.
The building has been here since 1820, an has been a hotel, bar, and store. Its owner, Paul-Maurice Patenaud, has enjoyed and exploited its dual nationality for more than 50 years, and runs it now as the Half Way House Freight Forwarding company. Canadians who order things online from American stores can avoid the complications, expense, and delay of having them shipped across the border, by having them shipped here. Deliveries come through the door on the US side. Customers can then pick up the goods themselves, by entering the door on the Canadian side. There are many mailbox and shipping services that perform this function along the US side of the boundary, but this situation works especially well for people who are uninclined, or not allowed, to enter the US, for one reason or another.
West of Fort Covington the international boundary travels the 45th Parallel for another 7.5 miles, then enters the St. Lawrence River.
Along the way, the border enters another phase, the territory of a “third” nation – that of the Akwesasne Mohawk tribe. Here the USA/Canada boundary has a reduced significance at the local level. There are several roads that cross the international border on the Reservation, but at no point is this fact acknowledged with signage, Ports of Entry, or even visible monuments. Passage over the line is unrestricted. And there is no cut line on the forested portions of the Reservation.
The first road to cross the international boundary west of Fort Covington is Chapman Road, which crosses north into the reservation when it crosses into Canada, without any indication that you are crossing a border of any kind.
Further west, inside the reservation, the same is true along Border Road, which crosses the boundary without any indication.
And Snye Road, at the end of Border Line Road, also crosses the line, without indication.
At Phillips Road, the change in the road surface is the only indication that the Second Nations have transitioned within the First Nation’s territory.
At River Road, the fourth road crossing on the U.S./Canada boundary on the reservation some cryptic spray paint indicates a change in jurisdiction for infrastructure, but that is the only indication of any change there.
After the 45th Parallel crosses the St. Regis River, a tributary to the St. Lawrence, it enters the community of St. Regis, the most built up part of the Reservation. The community is on a peninsula, surrounded by water, and connected by land only through the USA. This is one reason why the lax conditions of the international boundary can occur here: all of the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation is separated from continental Canada by the St. Lawrence River. The reservation is known to be a busy place for smugglers though, using boats to cross the river.
In the community of St. Regis, the international boundary is also unacknowledged, visible only as the change in pavement. The Boundary Commission installed monuments along the line here a long time ago, though they are not aggressively maintained.
Many have been turned into fence posts and lost in the bushes. Others have been removed.
The last boundary monument on the 45th Parallel is in a fence line behind a home, next to the St. Lawrence River.
From here the line heads out across the water, invisibly splitting a recreational boat dock, then joining the main channel of the river.
The International Boundary, already fading on the reservation, dissolves in the water, becoming a liquid line again, following rivers and lakes for the next 1,300 miles, before striking land again in Minnesota/Manitoba.
CONTINUE ALONG THE BORDER FROM EAST TO WEST
CHAPTER 4: THE WATERY BOUNDARY