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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

U.S.Astronomical Station at Boundary Bay
Waterton Lake Alberta - Montana

The MV International glides through the Canada / United States boundary on Waterton Lake.

In August of 1874 the U.S. Northern Boundary commission, in the joint effort to demarcate the 49th parallel, reached the final station which would connect via traverse to the station on the continental divide established in 1861. Just a few hundred feet from the bronze monument below (aluminum painted for visibility), the zenith telescope was set up to determine latitude by observing pairs of stars.

The present bronze monument, set in 1909, is thought to have been placed on the exact center of the original rock cairn, but the site has no evidence of rocks scattered about as observed at other "original" monuments. The old 20th century boat dock just south of the swath may well have consumed them.

The 1874 Astronomical Station and nearby triangulation station consist of a collection of rocks on the forest floor, turned often by the bears looking for insects. Evidence of old timber cuttings were found about the site on the ground as well as disturbed earth.

The trail along the west shore of Waterton Lake generally follows the site of the old native trail until reaching the great hill above Bertha Bay. Here the hill & cliffs created an obstacle which could only be passed at a certain point. The modern trail probably coincides with the ancient here, as some pictographs and ochre may be viewed overhead from the trail.

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