About two miles north of Perry Corner on Route One (known locally as the Back District Road), well back from the highway, in a simple little park-like area, stands a rough-cut stone. The upper third of it’s four-foot height is cut back on a slant to enable the observer to read more easily the inscription carved on it’s once polished surface.
THIS STONE MARKS
LATITUDE 45 NORTH
FROM THE EQUATOR TO THE POLE
In 1888 the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey crew had worked their way northward along the coast of Maine as far as the St. Croix River. The two young surveyors, Bates and Longfellow by name, “put up” at the well-known Washburn Place for parts of two summers while completing their work in the area.
Most of the “bench-marks” set by these surveyors were left along the shore itself, but as the town of Perry was centered fairly upon the 45th Parallel, the young men thought it would be a good idea to set an additional bronze marker and temporary stone at the exact spot where the imaginary line crosses the main road running north and south through the center of the town. Proud of their careful work with their instruments, they declared, “Regarding the accuracy of this setting, if any other such field party were to re-establish this point, they would locate within 12 inches of the present location”.
The temporary marker lasted seven or eight years and then some Perry citizens, along with the Reverend Charles Whittier of Dennysville, fearful that the exact location of the line might be lost, decided that a permanent markers should be set up. Charles Washburn was delegated to go up to the Maine Red Granite Company in Red Beach and order the stone, with it’s inscription, early in 1896. (An entry in C. L. Washburn’s diary mentions the estimated cost of the stone as being $8).
Mr. Washburn died in July of that year, and Reverend Whittier moved away. There is no further references as to the whereabouts of the stone marker until 1899, when Frank Washburn, the son of Charles brought up the matter at the Town Meeting in March. The town voted to pay for the stone providing volunteer labor would do the work of moving it and setting it up properly. The labor was gladly furnished by interested citizens and summer residents led by Doctor Henry S. Nash, and the marker as duly set in place with proper ceremony on July Fourth, 1899.
Transportation was no mean consideration when moving the stone. Six cubic feet of close-grained granite weigh more than half a ton. The only conveyance deemed suitable with the time was the Washburn hayrack, heavily bedded with hay.
The Halfway Marker and its little park are presently cared for by the Perry Improvement Association with the assistance from the Maine State Highway Department. The enlargement of the park area around the marker was made possible a few years ago by the generosity of Mrs. Elizabeth Spinney, the owner of the surrounding property.
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