Walk the Line: Mason-Dixon Turns 250 Years Old

A celebration is planned for the famous border, which was plotted in the late 1700s by two British surveyors

“It’s now seen as a symbolic border between North and South, but the Mason-Dixon Line really had nothing to do with the Civil War,” says Pete Zapadka, a retired journalist and chairman of the Mason-Dixon Line 250th Anniversary celebration. “It was created nearly a hundred years before.”

The event aims to highlight the Line’s true origins and the story of the British astronomers and surveyors Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon, who were hired to settle a land dispute between feuding families in adjoining colonies, the Penns in Pennsylvania and the Calverts in Maryland.


The line runs between parts of four states: Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and West Virginia.

Starting at the south end of Philadelphia in 1763, Mason and Dixon plotted the less-famous portion of the line, running north-south between Delaware and Maryland, and then cut westward. They stopped on top of Brown’s Hill near what is now Core, West Virginia, in October 1767. But this spot isn’t the true end of the Line; the duo halted about twenty-two miles short of their goal because of tensions between their Native American guides and other tribes. Others finished the Line in 1784.

The anniversary event, held October 13–15 at the Mason-Dixon Historical Park, located on a tract that includes Brown’s Hill, invites visitors to learn about astronomy and surveying techniques, hang out with colonial and Native American reenactors, and soak up some fall color while “crossing the Line.”

For more information: md250.exploretheline.com