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Exploring the Mason Dixon Line


Exploring the mason Dixon Line
Walking in the Footsteps of History

John L. "Jack" Layton

King Charles I of England granted the Calvert Family a charter for the Colony of Maryland in 1632. Forty-nine years later, in 1681, Charles II awarded the Penn Family a similar charter for Pennsylvania. However, the ambiguity of the language and lack of precision in both grants sowed the seeds of dispute over a sixty-nine mile parcel of land between the 39th and 40th degrees of North Latitude. Had the Calverts prevailed, part of the City of Philadelphia would now be in Maryland, and had the Penns succeeded Baltimore would today be in the state of Pennsylvania! Arguments between the opposing parties dragged on for more than half a century before the English Courts finally issued a decree: Neither the Calverts nor the Penns would prevail; the border between Maryland and Pennsylvania would be a line of latitude located fifteen miles due south of the most southern point in the city of Philadelphia. As a result, in 1763 two British mathematicians and surveyors-Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon-were commissioned to accurately survey and mark the 244- mile boundary between the two colonies.

We all have referred to the resulting Mason Dixon Line in casual conversation as the line that divides Pennsylvania and Maryland, or perhaps as the line between the free and slave states during the Civil War. But what do we actually know about Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon, and why is an imaginary line named after them? Author Jack Layton decided to find out. Over the course of several years he literally walked the line, recording his observations and taking revealing photographs along the entire route. The results-informative, entertaining, ironic and amusing-form the heart of this book.

Luckily for us, Charles Mason was a meticulous man who kept a detailed journal of his remarkable experiences in the New World. Mr. Layton used his daily record, kept during the three years that he and his partner spent traipsing through the mountains and valleys of America, as the backbone for this book, with liberal use of direct quotations. Amazingly, some of what the men saw and described has not changed much in the intervening two-and-a-half centuries, while other sights would not be recognizable at all today.

Enjoy a trip back to colonial America. Join Jack Layton as he takes a walk in the footsteps of history, following the path blazed by two men whose names and the boundary they surveyed are today a household word-the Mason Dixon Line!


Format: 6” x 9” perfect bound paperback on acid-free creme paper with gloss laminate cover
Pages: 196 including introduction, text, bibliography, list of sites visited, index and author biography
ISBN 10: 0-9842256-4-1
ISBN 13: 978-0-9842256-4-4
LCCN: 2009937915 Price: $17.95
Published: 2009

About the Author

Jack Layton is a broadcast engineer by trade. He owns his own business, which supplies technical consulting services to radio and television stations throughout the country. He has written several books about various broadcast related technical subjects, and has published many technical articles in nationally circulated trade journals. This is his first literary venture outside the field of broadcasting. Layton lives with his wife Cathy in suburban Pittsburgh.

The theoretical design and the empirical adjustment of a broadcast antenna system to produce certain invisible signal strength contour lines on the surface of the earth isn’t too far removed from the idea of using stars light years away to measure and mark invisible dividing lines on that same earthly surface. The author’s inherent interest of the “whys and hows” of making the invisible visible and measurable had its genesis in a young lad of ten. It eventually led to a career in broadcast engineering. Age hasn’t put a damper on his inquisitiveness. The research put into the writing of this book was—in part—an effort to satisfy his never-ending curiosity of how to observe the connection between theory and reality.

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This product was added to our catalog on Friday 17 June, 2011.

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