Point of Beginning

Steven Dutch, Professor Emeritus, Natural and Applied Sciences, University of Wisconsin - Green Bay

SW 1/4 SW 1/4 Sec 31 T1N R1E (where else?) Lafayette County and SE 1/4 SE 1/4 Sec 36 T1N R1W Grant County. On Illinois State line off State Route 84 two miles south of Hazel Green. The highway marker is on Highway 84, the bench mark on a small side road about 1/2 mile to the east.

As the marker explains, in a very real sense this is where Wisconsin begins, both geographically and historically.

Late in 1831, when Wisconsin was still in Michigan Territory, Lucius Lyon, U.S. Commissioner on the survey of the northern boundary of the State of Illinois, set a post and erected a mound of earth 6 feet square at the base and 6 feet high, at a point 1/2 mile east of here to mark the intersection of that boundary and the 4th Principal Meridian. The Wisconsin public land surveys were begun here in 1832 and were completed "up north" in 1867. Lyon surveyed 16 townships in S.W. Wisconsin in 1832-33, which opened the territory for settlement. In 1833 Michigan Territory honored this veteran surveyor by electing him their delegate to Congress. The post and mound he erected at this point were obliterated by fence and power line construction long ago, but the point is now preserved by a new concrete surveyor's monument. Every section corner monument in the state, the boundaries of each county, city, village, township, farm and lot; the position of roads, lakes and streams, all were surveyed and mapped from this Point of Beginning.

The post at left locates the bench mark, which is embedded in the ground directly at the base. The actual bench mark is shown at right.

Around the circumference the bench mark reads "State of Wisconsin Department of Transportation." Within that legend the mark reads "Penalty provided for disturbing this mark." An inverted T mark in the center denotes the section intersections. Below the center mark is the number 13, with T29N R1W below that. The bottom half of the bench mark is in Illinois, Section 13, T29N, R1W. The township line here doesn't quite follow the meridian so the township boundary is just a hair east of here.

Above the center mark is the number 36 on both sides of a vertical line, with T1N R1W above that. The dual 36's are a bit puzzling. The vertical mark is clearly meant to be a section line (it's missing on the Illinois side), but the right numeral should be 31, not 36. 

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Created 3 September 2000, Last Update 23 September 2000