I was fumbling around more with Google Maps today than usual (probably thanks to the Wikipedia Blackout) and looking at my old home state of Montana. I realized I had never crossed from Montana to South Dakota (or at least I don’t think I have – unless on one of our family trips as a youth).
You see, the extreme southeast corner of Montana shares a relatively small border with the extreme northwest corner of South Dakota. No major towns or cities lay nearby that would use any access points into each other (there are only two “main” roads and five other roads that cross through both states). It’s so remote that Google Maps has failed to traverse between the two states. The only towns that could possibly need to use any of these roads are Broadus and Ekalaka (in Montana) and Buffalo in South Dakota. The moderately populated Belle Fourche, S.D. is nearby, but it would be quicker to cut through a small piece of northeast Wyoming on U.S. 212 to get to Montana (Funny, Wyoming signs greet you at this border, even though it’s a 40 minute drive through nothing – and only includes small county road turnoffs – until you get to Montana).
While I’ve been to South Dakota, I imagine we, like most Montanans visiting the Black Hills State, cut through a good portion of Wyoming or dropped down from North Dakota. I can’t imagine many have taken the adventurous route from state-to-state. South Dakota – shockingly, almost – borders Montana to the south as well. The north/south border equates to barely 9/10ths of a mile and is cross-able via one lonely “Albion Road” (from the now ghost town of Albion, MT).
So that led me to wonder which other states share a border that is similarly remote. I suppose the litmus test should be “at least” the lack of any major highways (this would obviously include any interstate roads and U.S. highways). The lack of population centers helps this case as well – as major roads connect major towns and cities, so one really goes with the other. The other rule…this must affect the entire border each state shares, not just massive swathes of it. Texas and New Mexico share a relatively sparsely populated border but it’s already eliminated with the interstate that runs from Amarillo to Albuquerque…so no. In my relatively quick glance at the map – I found five more examples…
Oregon – Nevada and Idaho-Nevada
It’s not surprising that Nevada would be one state involved in this survey. It is well known that one of the most arid states in the union only has two main routes – Interstate 80 to Reno and Interstate 15 to Las Vegas. Driving down into Nevada from either Oregon or Idaho is not only a rare border crossing because not many people live in the regions immediately surrounding the border, but it’s faster to get to certain places through other states. For example, the great majority of Oregonians can get to Reno or Las Vegas quicker via California. People forget, Southeast Oregon is just as dry and inhospitable as much of Nevada. In fact, the only major artery from Oregon to Nevada is via Route 95 – which mostly funnels the Boise crowd through anyway. I think it’s safe to say the Oregon side of this border is more rare – considering everyone else driving in from parts northeast would have dropped down already, or at least by Idaho.
Oklahoma – Colorado
Oklahoma borders six states, but sure cheats a lot with that panhandle. Depending on how you define “roads”, there may be as many as 13-14 that go back and forth between this tiny border, but about 9-10 provide true access. Only one is a main route, that being the combined U.S. Routes 385 and 287. There is very little reason for most people to cross here as major population centers in the five-state area would be better connected by routes elsewhere.
Oklahoma – New Mexico
The Oklahoma-New Mexico border’s main route through (US Route 56/64/412) comes ridiculously close to clipping Texas (at one point, if you pulled over, you might actually be in Texas…). Like Oklahoma’s border with Colorado, this border has it’s share of a dozen or so little county or private roads that run through, whether to dead ends or other connections. I’d argue that this border might be used a little bit more than OK-CO, in that those travel from major population centers in New Mexico (namely Albuquerque and Santa Fe) traveling due northeast to or through Kansas (or vice versa) might find a passage through this border more likely.
Michigan – Wisconsin
While the border for Michigan and Wisconsin clocks in at a healthy 205 miles, it’s important to note this is a border with NORTHERN Michigan, a nearly wholly separate (connected by bridge to Michigan) entity than the state of Michigan more people are familiar with – and far less populated. There are a few U.S. routes connecting Wisconsin and Northern Michigan, but you’d really have to be going or coming from Northern Michigan, as is there is no passing through unless your taking a very scenic route.
North Carolina – Georgia
It’s weird to think of any of these rules applying to east coast states, but North Carolina and Georgia are separated by an immense amount of forest – the Chattahoochee and Nantahala to be specific – that there really isn’t any major traffic demand going over this border. While there are a handful of nice roads in and out of both states and Atlanta and Asheville are seemingly closer, Google Maps calculated a slightly quicker route (10 miles longer) between the two cities via South Carolina. It also passes the “I never even thought State A bordered State B”-test, because the states seem hardly related (there really isn’t any college rivalries between the two, for example).
Delaware-New Jersey – Ahh, the famous Finns Point. However, there is no road access for the Delaware-New Jersey land border as it’s just dredged up silt that’s collected along the river’s edge…creating a man-made land border for the states that were previously just connected by a bridge. Theoretically, driving is possible, I suppose…if you work at the Salem Nuclear Plant you can visit the so-called “Artificial Island” quite easily. Otherwise, it’s off limits to us curious types.
Four Corners – Colorado borders Arizona and New Mexico borders Utah but the only way to officially cross on foot without touching another state is to jump from one corner to the opposite at the Four Corners Monument – which for all intents and purposes, may or may not be the official four corner point. It wouldn’t surprise me if these two corner borders gets more crossings than the Montana-South Dakota border.
This was an intriguing post. I’ve actually traversed a couple of these borders.
Once I took a wrong turn near Belle Fouche and ended up taking dirt roads to Ekalaka. I meant to go north and catch US 12 in North Dakota before turning west. It was an interesting drive. I think I saw one ranch truck along the way. I was glad to find pavement again.
Last year I drove from Nevada into Idaho on my way back from Great Basin National Park. It wasn’t heavily populated, but didn’t feel as remote as the MT-SD corner. I stayed on pavement, though, so that may have been the difference.
Speaking of corners, I’ve also made the pilgrimage to the Four Corners marker. It’s not exactly on the direct route to anywhere, but there was plenty of traffic from all of us heading there. Tourist attractions don’t seem remote.
I honestly think very few people think of the Montana-South Dakota border as being as remote as it is. I can’t imagine you saw much on your trip from Bell Fourche to Ekalaka! If I get back to MT any time soon I may have to explore it just out of curiosity.
A trip to Four Corners must be a day trip in and of itself…considering it’s location – though I imagine you could couple it with Mesa Verde or something. After my southern excursion in February, that area of the country will be one of the last I still need to tackle (odd for living out West for so long)…I’m looking forward to it.
The Missouri / Kentucky border probably belongs on that list. No bridges, just a ferry across the Mississippi River between two remote villages; Doreen Mo and Hickman KY.
Thanks Jeff! I really don’t know how I let that one fly under my radar. That just might win the deal. Due to shifts in the Mississippi river creating all sorts of pene-exclave possibilities. There does seem to be a couple roads (from google satellite view they look like dirt roads) that lead from Missouri to Kentucky, including Wolf Island Road and another one coming off of Levee Road. It looks like all of farmland out there, so who knows how private these roads are, but it may be, in fact, possible to drive across the Missouri-Kentucky line…though you won’t get very far into Kentucky.
Interesting list! I’ve crossed the OR-NV border a few times — yes it is remote! I’d also add the Vermont-NY border — I only counted 4 roads that crossed it.
Thanks Steve. I had to take a look again at VT-NY. Why I wouldn’t say it’s as remote as some of these others, I did spot an unusual distinction. It appears to be the only state border of the east coast states without an interstate highway passing through it! I’ve personally crossed it twice – around Bennington, VT and between Rouses Point, NY and Alburg, VT.
I crossed into New Mexico from Oklahoma a couple of weeks ago. Yes, you are correct, you can probably spit out your window and hit Texas at that point! With the small New Mexico town of Clayton nearby, there were actually more cars out and about than I expected, but it was a Saturday afternoon. Interestingly, people in Clayton, from what I can tell, likely drive to Liberal, KS to go to WalMart or any other larger stores. I thought the idea of driving through two states to go to WalMart, even thought it’s only like an hour, was so weird!