How a Surveying Error Added Nearly 1,000 Square Miles to Texas

How a Surveying Error Added Nearly 1,000 Square Miles to Texas

November 18, 2019 | W.F. Strong

It is common knowledge that Texas is one of the largest states in the country based on land area. But without a past surveying mistake and friends in high places, Texas would have been nearly 1,000 square miles smaller. At the northwest corner of the panhandle where Texas meets Oklahoma and New Mexico, the boundary veers to the left instead of meeting up exactly with the other borders.

“The line makes a jog to the left. It goes 2.3 miles left before heading straight south. That jog is the result of a survey error that some have called the worst survey error in U.S. history. But it isn’t just a two mile error – that error gets bigger as it continues south, 310 miles to the bottom Texas-New Mexico corner, where it turns west and heads for El Paso. All totaled, the mistake amounts to a 942 square mile error, a land mass bigger than Houston, though long and skinny, like a gerrymandered voting district.”

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