A stupid commercial made me look


There’s been a car commercial on recently (I honestly don’t remember the brand) that shows a family driving to “the eastern-most point in the United States” to welcome in the New Year.  The imagery is great, with a snowy shore-line and a beautiful sunrise and wonderful family moments and whatnot.  But it got me thinking about where the eastern-most point in the United States really is.  And, of course, that led to wikipedia.

Wikipedia is full of strange information, most of which is only interesting to a very, very limited number of people.  And this particular wikipedia page is one that I found intriguing.  I actually know which airports I’ve flown to or from at the extremes of the compass (KEF, ZQN, AKL and HNL, if you’re keeping score at home) so reading about the extremes for the United States was fun.  I’ve actually been to Key West a couple times, the southern-most city in the USA and even the Tortugas, which I think qualify as the southern-most point that is occasionally above water at low tide.  Plus, I learned some interesting facts.

For example, the eastern-most point in the USA by longitude is actually in Alaska, with Pochnoi Point, Semisopochnoi Island, Alaska coming in at 179°46’E.  The site that the commercial seems to be pointing to is actually in Maine, which isn’t all that much of a surprise.  And there was someone in the Reagan administration that had a lot of fun with American geography.

It seems that the eastern-most point in the USA by direction of travel is Point Udall in St. Croix.  It was named after Stewart Udall, the Secretary of the Interior under JFK and LBJ.  That’s pretty impressive, but even more impressive was the fast one pulled by someone in 1987.  I guess calling it a fast one is a bit judgmental since Mo Udall was an accomplished politician, serving 30 years as a representative from Arizona.  But it seems a bit ironic that the western-most point by direction of travel could somehow pick up the same name as the eastern-most point and that the two could be named for different people.

The Western tip of Guam used to be known as Orote Point, until someone decided to change the name to Udall Point.  It is a different Udall point, named for a different person, but the two locations share a name.  Clearly someone in the Reagan administration had a bit of fun making that happen. 

And now that I know that such a ridiculous pair of named points exist in the United States, I think I might just have to find a way to visit both of them.  Besides, I’ve always wanted to visit the US Virgin Islands and actually spend a few hours in Guam instead of just connecting through.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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