KCI Vice President Tate Jones, PLS, was appointed by the Governor of Georgia as the surveyor to define the 16-mile boundary line between Jackson and Hall counties in northeast Georgia. “The letter came out of the blue with no prior discussion,” Jones said. “The Governor simply saw a problem and appointed me to fix it.”
One of the chief functions of land surveyors is to establish boundary lines. Some are easily established because they are marked by fence lines, rebar, or other monuments. Others require detailed investigation into historical evidence. Jones began meeting with the county officials and collecting tax maps and local surveys. The Jackson County Hall County line was said to run parallel with a line commonly called the “Hawkins Line.” The latter ran parallel to a line that the Cherokee Nation had established in the 1800s along the southernmost section of their land. In surveying, you always follow surveyors from the past. Tracing the steps of Cherokee Nation land surveyors certainly added to the historical significance of this task. Unfortunately, their line had only been designated using hatchet marks on trees.
Beyond looking at maps, surveyors must look for physical evidence of boundary lines. Our team located all the discoverable property monuments along the 16-mile-long line, which had been established over the last 200 years. Lower accuracy at the time combined with changing conditions can make physical evidence unreliable. In this case, some monuments were within one to five feet of the final line, while others missed by 20 feet.
Fortunately, the southwest end of the line was well documented. A very modern marble monument marked the intersection of the county line as it related to the Mulberry River. An older monument along on the southern side of the river was located at the southern terminus of the line.
The Northeast end posed more significant challenges. Documentation in that area was sparse. The most valuable evidence turned out to be validation maps, or val maps, produced by Southern Railway in 1916. These maps and the associated railroad mile markers were used to establish the northern Terminus. The only physical evidence left from these 1916 maps were references to a driveway and a drainage pipe. Using the stationing on the old railroad maps, the team was able to locate a drainage pipe, which then facilitated a tie into the centerline stationing. Surprisingly, the current location of the evidence proved to be within four inches of the century-old maps. The northern terminus of the county line was set based on this confirmed information.
With the location of the boundary solved, the team presented the findings to Jackson and Hall county officials, who agreed with the assessment and accepted KCI’s solution. The new plat then was reviewed by the Georgia Secretary of State and placed in “The Book,” where county property documents are kept in the state archives.
“The historical significance of duplicating a line set by the Cherokee nation two centuries ago was thought-provoking,” said Jones. “It was gratifying to solve such an important boundary dispute between two counties that the state had been unable to locate.” Jackson and Hall Counties signed the plat with no disagreements.