Drawing the Line: How Mason and Dixon Surveyed the Most Famous Border in America

By Edwin Danson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 18
Not One Step
Further

THE WAGONS ARRIVED at Fort Cumberland on July 7, laden with the precious instruments, tents, and provisions. Not far from the rundown fort, Mason and Dixon were enjoying the cordial hospitality of one Colonel Crisep, on his beautiful estate overlooking the Potomac River. It was less than ten miles from Crisep's home to where work had ceased thirteen months before. Shortly after daybreak the following day, the colonel accompanied his guests on their short crosscountry trek. Long before night cloaked the forest trees, camp had been erected, supper cooked, the instruments checked, and the marks of the previous year recovered.

The next morning, the sun rose just before five. The cooks had breakfast prepared, and Mason addressed the men while they ate. He was in somber mood as he read out the strict instructions of the commissioners. Shows of bigotry or disrespect towards the Indian guides, when they arrived, would not be tolerated. The forty men nodded, but many muttered obscenities under their breath, while others checked the keenness of their blades. Following Mason's admonitions, the cutting crews collected their axes and began work, opening up a vista to the east, while the chaining crew set off west, across the proclamation's line of royal prohibition.

The summit of Savage Mountain was crossed on July 14, 168 miles 78 chains from Mill Creek. Below the peak, the laurel swamps and dark pines gave way to tall spruce breaks and sunny glades. The cherry trees and wild flowers “resembled a Garden desolate.” A few days later Captain Hugh Crawford with three Onondagas and eleven

-172-

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