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Georgia Has Tennessee On Its Mind


If you have a good United States map handy, you'll see that the southern boundary of the mid-South state of Tennessee is a long, straight line along the 35th Parallel, which also forms the northern border of Georgia and two other states.

That's boring book knowledge unless you live in Georgia and have been suffering through a terrible drought this year. You see, the boundary line runs oh so close — only a kilometer or so — from a big bend in the Tennessee River, up in Tennessee, which has plenty of water.

Tough luck, Georgia, say the Tennesseans. But someone has discovered that the surveyors who traipsed through the southern mountains to establish the border 190 years ago may well have made a mistake. The true and correct 35th Parallel might nudge Georgia just far enough northward that its citizens could tap right into that sweet Tennessee River water. No wonder Georgia officials have been zipping memos back and forth, trying to figure out how to get the boundary pushed to where, in their view, it rightfully belongs. There's serious talk of a legal case to make it happen, if need be.

Tennessee officials laugh at all this. They say they'd win such a case. After all, as the old saying goes, possession is nine-tenths of the law, and the little strip of land in question — as well as the precious river access — have been all Tennessee's for a long, long time.

Georgians are talking about sending out a new survey crew, equipped with the latest technology. No one is saying what would happen to the thousands of Tennesseans who might become Georgians if the survey proves Georgia right. Georgia wants water, not more people.

In the months or years it might take to settle such a volatile issue, Georgia's drought will almost certainly have ended. One would hope so, anyway.

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