The Surprising Easternmost Point in the US

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What’s the easternmost point in the US?Well it’s actually a more complicated question than you may think. The simple answer wouldbe Maine. Sail Rock, Maine to be specific, and if you said this answer you would be right,but only in one way of looking at the easternmost point. This is only right if you think ofthe easternmost point in the United States as relative to the United States itself andlooking at the US as only the 50 states of the US, but you have to remember the overseasterritories of the US.

In this case, if we include the territories of the US, not includingembassies, bases, or war cemeteries which are technically US soil but not US territories,the easternmost point in the US, relative to the mainland United States would be PointUdall, in the US Virgin Islands. Interestingly, the westernmost point of the United Statesrelative to the United States is also named Point Udall, this time in Guam, but thatsa topic for another time. So these easternmost points are all talking about east relativeto the US, but we must remember that that’s not really what east is.

“East” is a relativeterm, and in it’s true sense, it’s all about longitude. “East” essentially meansto the right of the prime meridian line, while “west” is to the left. So when we lookat Alaska, which includes a long line of islands called the Aleutian Islands, we see that whatwas west eventually becomes east because this island chain actually crosses the 180th lineof longitude, the exact opposite of the prime meridian.

Therefore the closest island tothe west of the prime meridian, Semisopochnoi Island, holds the title of being the easternmostpoint in the United States. Now this creates a very interesting paradox where the easternmostpoint in the United States is actually west, in terms of direction of travel, of the westernmostpoint of the US, Amatignak Island, by about 30 miles. This is of course assuming thatyou are looking at the westernmost and easternmost point in terms of longitude. Now to finishoff, this creates one more paradox where Alaska holds the title of being the northernmost,westernmost, and easternmost state all at the same time.

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