Dispute over North Carolina/South Carolina border

Published: Jan. 5, 2011 at 4:14 AM EST|Updated: Jan. 5, 2011 at 4:36 AM EST
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YORK COUNTY, SC (WBTV) - Since 1994, Allen Zupan and Sid Miller have been walking the North-South Carolina state line foot by foot.

"We're trying to reestablish where the original line was," said Zupan. "We're not creating a new line."

It's no easy task to retrace a line first drawn by King George in 1735. The surveyors that drew the original line used the sun, stars and a compass. "That was a technique that was beyond what the average surveyor was called on to do," said Miller.

One example is the jagged line between York and Mecklenburg counties. The king's line was to go to from Cape Fear, North Carolina Northwest, to the 35th parallel in Marlboro County, South Carolina.

However, Zupan says surveyors stopped work because of pay or the difficulty of trudging through the swamps in 1735, and surveyors made a slight miscalculation. "They went westward and hit the Salisbury Road, which is around Highway 521 now," said Zupan.

That's several miles south of the 35th parallel. Then, because the Catawba Indian tribe wanted to be in South Carolina, the surveyors drew the line around their land. That gave an odd shape to the line of York County.

If the surveyors would have gotten the line right on the 35th parallel, Fort Mill, Tega Cay and Clover wouldn't be in the Palmetto State today.

In 1735, surveyors marked trees along the line to mark where the line fell. So even though the line running from Lake Wylie to Greenville County on the map may look straight, Zupan says there are slight north/south variations.

So over the centuries, how would the next generation of surveyors find the line when trees from 1735 aren't alive today? Stone markers, like the one at the North Corner in Lancaster County, are solid evidence left behind to give modern day surveyors proper guidance.

However, some stone markers have either been stolen or destroyed. For example, when Duke Power built dams along the Catawba River and created Lake Wylie, the stone marker there was lost.

Miller says he and Zupan spent several weeks with a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration team scouring the bottom of Lake Wylie to find the stone, to no avail. "We did find the exact spot in the lake though, to where you could put a buoy on the line, and 35 feet below the water and mud that stone is there somewhere," said Miller.

Zupan and Miller they are using state-of-the-art GPS to remark the line. With all the development going on in Fort Mill, Indian Land and Gallantness areas Zupan says it's important to get the line right. "You just want to know where you're going to be living, so you know where to pay your taxes and know who's responsible for your services," said Zupan.

The other reason for the modern day survey of the state line, Zupan says to make the job easier for the surveyors in the year 2111 to find the state boundary lines.

The team works very closely with North Carolina's state line survey team to form the North Carolina and South Carolina Joint Boundary Commission. The groups meet every few months to share what they find. The groups hope to have the line fully marked by 2012. Final approval for the line must be passed by both North and South Carolina legislatures.

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