NEW CASTLE, De. (WHTM) — For almost seventy years, Pennsylvania and Delaware argued over who owns The Wedge, a sliver of land created when two lines from the Mason-Dixon Survey didn’t quite intersect.
For the most part, administration of the Wedge fell to Delaware, simply because it was more practical. But by the 1840s some of the original marker stones set in the area by Mason and Dixon had gone missing. In 1849, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland decided to re-survey the area.
The task fell to Lieut. Col. James D. Graham of the U. S. Corps of Topographical Engineers.
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Graham determined precisely where the arc line meets the north line. But, in his 1850 final report, he declared that is the true meeting point of the three states, and his map shows the Wedge as being part of Pennsylvania.
Delawareans are not happy, nothing gets resolved, things return to the status quo, and residents of the Wedge go back to wondering who’s in charge here.
“The area was, for many years, locally referred to as ‘no man’s land,” says Stephen Marz, the director and archivist of the Delaware Public Archive. “There weren’t that many people living there, and these people were pretty independent.” Marz also notes the Wedge was not a top priority for politicians in either state. “When you’re trying to govern more populated areas, how much attention are you going to pay to that. Not much.”
In 1889, Pennsylvania and Delaware decided to take another go at settling the issue. They set up a commission to determine the boundary, and ordered another survey, under the direction of W.C. Hodgkins, of the Office of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey.
His survey connected the east-west borderline to the Arc Line by extending it a smidge over 3/4 miles. (Seriously, folks, that’s how small an area we’re talking about here.) The Wedge finally had a for-real northern border.
The Pennsylvania Assembly approved the results of the committee’s survey in 1897, and…Delaware balked.
It seems the surveyors discovered one of the original measurements for the Arc Circle was off by about two thousand feet. They corrected the error-which created a curved stretch of land which was dubbed The Horn. The commission decided the Wedge would go to Delaware, and the Horn would go to Pennsylvania.
The problem? The Horn was part of Delaware, and the residents were not happy about being involuntarily moved to another state. There are also people living in the Wedge who considered themselves Pennsylvanians. Delaware politicians decided to wait for tempers to cool before moving forward.
They waited 24 years.
Finally, Delaware ratified the survey, the United States Congress added its stamp of approval, The two states set up a marker to show where the east-west line meets the circle arc, and the issue of the Wedge and the Horn was finally settled in 1921, 100 years ago, and a mere 154 years after the problem first cropped up.