11-Jul-2001 -- After my first visit to a confluence (50N98W) the day before, I felt I was on a roll and had to keep the momentum going.
This one was about 100 km south of my home in Winnipeg. The 49th parallel forms a large portion of the Canada/USA border, starting in British Columbia and Washington on the Pacific coast and going almost all the way to the Great Lakes, crossing the Continental Divide and the Great Plains/Prairies. Canada and America share the world's longest undefended border. Hopefully my visit would not provoke any international incidents.
Leaving Winnipeg, I took Highway 59 south to St. Malo, where I took PR 218 south to Ridgeville, driving through some scenic farm country. After Ridgeville (with a population of maybe 50 and more than a few decrepit buildings, the town has seen better days) the road turns to gravel. When the road finally takes a 90 degree turn to the right (west), I kept going straight on this one lane farm road. I was now about 2.5 km's north of the border.
When my GPS unit showed I was still 800 meters from the confluence, the road came to an end in an old farmyard. The house is no longer there, but there are three small old barns. One has a fair sized population of bats, another of barn swallows.
Continuing in a southeast direction on foot, I noticed a small hill in the distance. Could that possibly be the confluence spot? Nope, another two hundred meters to go. Climbing the hill (maybe 20 feet high - unusual on this flat prairie) I scared up a few ruffed grouse and a white tailed deer. This hill was actually part of a ridge that followed the border quite closely. My GPS showed the hill was about 20 meters into Canada, but maybe the GPS was off a bit. After doing the requisite shuffle dance, I finally found the spot, about 25 meters into what I thought was Minnesota.
Nearby (on the ridge) was an old stake with a white plastic jug impaled on it. Looks like it had been there a few years. Was this an earlier attempt to mark the confluence? As I was about to head back to the car, I spoted another marker about 200 meters further east.
This one was an official permanent border marker. It was a four sided post about a meter tall. The north side had "Canada" imprinted on it in raised letters. The south side had "United States", and the other two had "Treaty of 1908" and "Convention of 1818". I wonder how far apart these markers are placed, and do they go along the whole border? I guess I'll have to plan a visit to another 49th parallel confluence to see.