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Utah bordering states
10 Locations That Allow You to Be in Multiple Places at Once
The U.S.-Mexican border gets a lot of attention, but in Derby Line, Vermont, Canadian residents can just stroll right in. In March, we covered the quirky Haskell Free Library and Opera House, which sits directly on the line that separates the New England town from Stanstead in Québec, Canada. Passports aren’t required to cross from the official entrance on the United States side to the Canadian side where most of the books are kept. But the black borderline that run’s across the library floor is somewhat strictly enforced: Bookworms are expected to return to their respective country post-visit and risk possible detention and fines if they don’t. And the dual-citizenship building, built in 1904, isn’t the only border-straddling site of its kind. Here are a few more spots that play it loose and free with the idea of clear boundaries.
1. DOWNTOWN BRISTOL // VIRGINIA AND TENNESSEE
Twin cities Bristol, Virginia and Bristol, Tennessee share a name, a border, and a downtown district where residents of both states gather for events such as the annual fall music fest, Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion. As the thousands of music lovers stroll down State Street they should be careful to watch their step—one side of the road is located in Virginia, the other in Tennessee.
2. FOUR CORNERS MONUMENT // UTAH, COLORADO, NEW MEXICO, AND ARIZONA
The quadripoint where the edges of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona meet is the only place in the United States where four states merge at one point. (Though some argue that the monument isn’t exactly precise and the real point of convergence lies 1807 feet to the west.) The monument, managed by the Navajo National Department of Parks and Recreation, makes for a great photo op (place a limb in each state!) but the surrounding area offers little else. There’s no running water, electricity, or telephones and very few stores and gas stations within a 30-mile radius.
3. BAARLE-HERTOG, BELGIUM AND BAARLE NASSAU, NETHERLANDS
Dubbed “the most complicated border town in the world” by The Atlantic, this town, split between the Netherlands and Belgium, actually consists of more than 20 separate pieces of land—some as small as a little league baseball field. (There are also enclaves of the Netherlands enclosed by parts of Belgium that are enclosed by larger portions of the Netherlands.)
The earliest version of the screwy delineations reportedly came about from a series of land-swapping treaties between medieval Dukes. The result is a borderline that runs directly through houses and buildings. Each side of town has its own police officer, fire department, and mayor, and has to abide by different national laws. The messy situation has an unexpected upside, though: When a Dutch law required that restaurants shut down by a certain time, the owners simply had their patrons switch to a table on the Belgian side at closing time!
4. LLOYDMINSTER, CANADA// ALBERTA AND SASKATCHEWAN
Two years after the town was settled by England’s Barr Colonists in 1903, the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan were created—effectively splitting the area in two. (The fourth meridian line of longitude was selected as the divider.) For the next quarter century, the town of Lloydminster existed in Saskatchewan and the village of Lloydminster was in Alberta. The areas were joined into one municipality in 1930.
5. MONTEGO BAY RESORT // WEST WENDOVER, NEVADA AND WENDOVER, UTAH
This 552-room resort and casino’s official address is in West Wendover, Nevada, but it sits directly on the Utah-Nevada border. The placement means that the resort actually looks into the future. While the rest of Nevada is in the Pacific Time Zone, this tiny resort town, some 120 miles west of Salt Lake City, follows Utah clocks. They observe Mountain Standard Time in the winter and Mountain Daylight time from March until November.
6. NEW PINE CREEK // CALIFORNIA AND OREGON
The California-Oregon border splits this tiny rural town (population: roughly 250) in half, due to a mistake by surveyor Daniel Major in 1868. Because the New Pink Creek’s post office boxes are on the Oregon side of town, residents of the Golden State state carry California driver’s licenses that list Oregon addresses. (The city’s only school is in California.) “It’s a tale of two cities, only we’re just one little town,” local business owner Tom Carpenter told the L.A. Times. “This is definitely a strange place to live.”
7. MOUNT EVEREST// NEPAL AND CHINA
Scaling to the peak of one of the world’s highest mountain is no small feat—more than 200 people have died attempting the climb. But if you make it to the top you can celebrate another achievement: standing in two countries at once. The China-Nepal international border runs across the mountain’s summit. Something to consider before making the climb during peak season: price. Scaling the south side in Nepal (where most adventures start) will run you about $11,000 just for a climbing permit (which is only a small portion of the total cost.) In China, in the north side, the fee is about a third of that price. But that’s not to say that taking the north route from Tibet is easier. Permits are issued by the China Tibet Mountaineering Association (CTMA), an organization that is known for being inconsistent when it comes to doling out access to Everest.
8. TEXARKANA // TEXAS AND ARKANSAS
The community on the border of Texas and Arkansas (Tex-arkana, get it?) has two mayors, two police forces, and two fire departments. But the twin cities share a slogan (“Texarkana, U.S.A., where life is so large, it takes two states!”), a main road, and a post office. Stand in front of the border-straddling building and you’ll have one foot in each state.
9. HOOVER DAM // NEVADA AND ARIZONA
Thanks to the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, completed in 2010, visitors to this national historic landmark have the option of standing in two states at once. Not only that, placing one foot in Nevada and the other in Arizona (about 900 feet above the Colorado River) means you’re also in two different time zones!
10. CORNWALL ISLAND // QUEBEC AND HOGANSBURG, NEW YORK
A part of the Akwesasne reserve, this island is officially part of Ontario, Canada. But its position in the middle of the St. Lawrence River means it also straddles the Canadian province of Quebec and Hogansburg, New York in the U.S. (Some houses are even divided by the border with the house in Canada and the garage in the United States!) Visiting the island can be problematic for Americans: Since the Canadian Customs and Immigration station was moved from the island to the mainland in 2009, after Akwesasne Mohawks protested Canada’s decision to arm their officers, U.S. tourists must drive over one bridge to get to the island, another to check in at customs, and a third to head back.
BONUS: BIR TAWIL // EGYPT AND SUDAN (SORT OF)
This approximately 800-square mile plot of land between Egypt and Sudan was created in 1902, when a group of Brits drew a map that differed slightly from a version drawn three years earlier. The revision awarded Sudan a chunk of fertile area called the Hala’ib Triangle, while Egypt was given Bir Tawil, a fairly useless bit of the desert. Naturally, both Egypt and Sudan say Bir Tawil belongs to the other country, making it the one of the only pieces of land in the world not claimed by any nation. (Still, others have tried to claim it.) But you’ll need the help of a knowledgable local to visit the no man’s land. There are no maintained pathways to the region.
The U.S.-Canada Border Runs Directly Through This Library
Though the Haskell Free Library and Opera House might not be as well known as the Grand Canyon or the Statue of Liberty, it’s undoubtedly one of America’s most unique tourist attractions. Completed in 1904, the building is stationed directly between Stanstead, Quebec, and Derby Line, Vermont, with the official U.S.-Canada borderline running right across the library’s floor.
Martha Stewart Haskell and her son, Colonel Horace Stewart Haskell, both Canadians, built the building as a tribute to Mrs. Haskell’s late husband, Carlos. The family hoped that citizens from both countries would use it as a “center for learning and cultural enrichment,” according to the official Haskell Free Library website.
The Haskell is divided between the two countries. While the library’s official entrance is on the U.S. side of the building, most of the books are on the Canadian side. The opera house is similarly split, with most of its seats in the U.S. and its stage in Canada. As Atlas Obscura reported, it is often said that the Haskell is the only library in the U.S. with no books, and the only opera house in the country with no stage.
Passports and other forms of identification aren’t required to cross from country to country in the library, though the Haskell’s website notes that the border inside the “building is real and it is enforced.” Visitors are expected to return to their side of the border after a visit; if they don’t, they risk possible detention and fines.
Even beyond the building’s unique position, library director Nancy Rumery told CTV News that Haskell staffers—Canadian and American alike—consider the institution to be like any other library in the world.
“We’re just trying to be the best library we can, and our community is made up of people from two different countries,” she said. “We don’t think of it in that big symbolic way that I think a lot of people do. These are all our neighbors and we do our very best to help them on their life-long learning journey.”
This article originally ran in 2016.
Are You Smart Enough to Pass Thomas Edison’s Impossible Employment Test?
If you thought Elon Musk’s favorite question to ask job applicants was tough, you should see the employment test devised by Thomas Edison. When he wasn’t busy inventing the light bulb or phonograph, or feuding with Nikola Tesla, Edison was apparently devising a trivia test of nearly impossible proportions.
As Smithsonian reports, the 146-question quiz was designed to weed out the candidates who would be ill-suited to work at his plant, which was a desirable place to get a job in 1921. College degrees didn’t impress him much—”Men who have gone to college I find to be amazingly ignorant,” he once remarked—so he needed to find a more effective method of determining prospective employees’ knowledge.
The test may have been too effective, though. Of the 718 applicants who took the test, only 57 achieved a passing score of 70 percent, and only 32 scored Edison’s desired result of 90 percent or higher. This was certainly frustrating to applicants who considered themselves to be pretty well-educated. An unsuccessful applicant named Charles Hansen, who shared all of the questions he remembered with The New York Times in 1921, called the test a “silly examination.” Another applicant said it was “not a Tom Edison but a Tom Foolery test” [PDF].
After the test questions became public knowledge, reporters went out and started polling people to see how well they’d do on Edison’s test. Albert Einstein reportedly failed (he didn’t know the speed of sound offhand), as did Edison’s youngest son, who was a student at MIT at the time.
If you want to challenge yourself, check out a few of the questions below, then scroll down to see the answers that appeared in The New York Times. (Note: The answers given were the correct answers in 1921, but some may have changed since then. Some questions and answers have been edited lightly for clarity.)
1. What city in the United States is noted for making laundry machines?
2. In what country other than Australia are kangaroos found?
3. What region do we get prunes from?
4. Name a large inland body of water that has no outlet.
5. What state is the largest? The next?
6. What is the name of a famous violin maker?
7. What ingredients are in the best white paint?
8. What causes the tides?
9. To what is the change of seasons due?
10. Who discovered the South Pole?
11. How fast does light travel per foot per second?
12. Of what kind of wood are axe handles made?
13. What cereal is used all over the world?
14. Name three powerful poisons.
15. Why is a Fahrenheit thermometer called Fahrenheit?
Feeling stumped? Scroll down to see the answers.
3. Prunes are grown in the Santa Clara Valley and elsewhere.
4. The Great Salt Lake, for example
5. Texas, then California (Note: Today it’s Alaska, then Texas)
7. Linseed oil, with a small percentage of turpentine and liquid dryer, together with a mixture of white lead and zinc oxide
8. The gravitational pull of the moon exerted powerfully on the ocean because of its fluidity, and weakly on the Earth because of its comparative rigidity.
9. To the inclination of the Earth to the plane of the ecliptic. In the Earth’s revolution around the Sun, this causes the Sun’s rays to be received at varying inclinations, with consequent variations of temperature.
10. Roald Amundsen, and then Robert Falcon Scott
11. Approximately 186,700 miles a second in a vacuum and slightly less through atmosphere.
12. Ash is generally used in the East and hickory in the West.
13. No cereal is used in all parts of the world. Wheat is used most extensively, with rice and corn next.
14. Cyanide of potassium, strychnine, and arsenic are all acceptable answers.
15. It is named after Gabriel Daniel Fahrenheit, the German physicist who invented it.
For the full list of questions and answers, check out Paleofuture’s article about the test on Gizmodo.