St. Stephens Meridian

The Initial Point set at the intersection of the St. Stephens Meridian and the baseline of the 31st parallel of latitude was established in 1805, and was used to survey the southern half of Alabama and the southeast corner of Mississippi. The meridian was located on a pre-existing monument known as the Ellicott Stone, which marked the 31st parallel in 1798—an east/west Line of Demarcation established by treaty with Spain as the boundary between Spanish Florida and the rest of America to the north. Remarkably, the stone is still there, protected inside a fenced enclosure. Only a few of the Initial Points have their original marking stones intact, and this one is the most historic of them all.

2317 CLUI photo.The St. Stephens Meridian Initial Point’s Ellicott Stone is located in a remote spot in the woods, protected by a fence and canopy.

2318 CLUI photo.The stone was broken decades ago and was repaired with cement, and also been set in concrete. An additional wire mesh enclosure that protected the stone has been removed.

2319 CLUI photo.The north side of the stone reads “U. S. LAT 31  1799” and the south side “DOMINIO DE, S.M.CARLOS IV LAT 31 1799,” meaning “Dominion of his Majesty King Charles IV, Latitude 31, 1799.”

2320 CLUI photo.A more contemporary brass Coast and Geodetic Survey Triangulation Station disc has been attached to the top of the stone.

2322 photos from the CLUI Archive by Shana Berger and Nathan PurathThe stone marking the Initial Point is in a state park, established in 1917. A remote and unfrequented trail leads directly to the site, crossing railroad tracks along the way. 

2326 The portions of Alabama and Mississippi indicated in yellow were the areas served by the Initial Point of the Ellicott Stone.