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Granite markers divide the 360-mile border between the two Dakotas.
Granite markers divide the 360-mile border between the two Dakotas.

Who Owns Them?

Aug 22, 2014

The border between the two Dakotas is unique in the nation because it is divided by hundreds of granite markers, erected shortly after the two states were welcomed into the Union.

Charles Bates headed a hard-working crew that installed the markers in 1891. They were erected every half-mile along the 360-mile border. Many have stood the test of time, but a number have been lost to vandals, thieves and the Dust Bowl. Those still visible have sunk to about half of their original height.

A smalltown museum curator in northern South Dakota contacted us today, wondering how they might obtain one of the markers for exhibit. But there's the question of who to contact. Who owns them? Who can give permission for such a task? We're going to try to get them an answer, and we'll keep you posted.

We know there are other museums with the stones on display, and in fact the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre has one by its flagpole outdoors. Someone apparently dropped it off.


05:24 pm - Mon, August 25 2014
Gary Huber said:
As a licensed land surveyor (Minnesota) having worked a few years for the US Forest Service and private businesses I believe I would try these sources. First I would contact the Bureau of Land Management which followed the Government Land Office, the agency that placed the monuments. Depending on their response, each Secretary of State of North and South Dakota should be contacted. Generally the monuments were placed in the charge of respective state and then the states put the counties in charge. They are beautiful monuments. I have taken pictures of the monuments that remain on the state line between what were my grandfathers farms in SD. Good luck.
07:30 pm - Mon, August 25 2014
Ed said:
So if I found them between SD and a state other than ND would they be more valuable. They do exist you know.
06:18 am - Fri, August 29 2014
Joyce Nelson said:
Gordon L. Iseminger has written a book "The Quartzite Border" which will tell in detail, the story of the boundary markers. I purchased my book from The Center for Weastern Studies at Augustana College, Sioux Falls. The Marshall County Historical Society obtained one of the markers from an abandoned farm and had it moved to our Courthouse lawn in Britton. We contacted a number of places---ND, SD, the Bureau of Land management, the farm owner, etc. Many of them were dug up, buried or destroyed when roads were built. I do not care to have my email public but would be happy to share what I know through your magazine.

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