Travel Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for road warriors and seasoned travelers. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

According to what I've been told, one state (Alaska) has land which is considered the easternmost, northernmost, and westernnmost in all of the USA. What are the three points that allows it to claim this, if it is indeed true, and how to get there?

share|improve this question
up vote 21 down vote accepted

Alaska is indeed the easternmost, northernmost, and westernmost in all of the USA. General assumption of one state being both easternmost & westernmost in a country is that the state being spanning across the country. But it's not the case with Alaska, below is the explanation from the website World Atlas

As far as the most western state, note how Alaska's Aleutian Islands stretch right up to the edge of the Western Hemisphere at the 180º line of Longitude, thus the most western state in the country.

Alaska is also the answer for eastern, as the Aleutian Islands stretch across the 180º line of Longitude, into the Eastern Hemisphere, and up the edge of the Russian Federation.

I'm searching to get these three points & their co-ordinates. I'll update once I get them.

Update: Co-ordinates of three extreme points as per Wiki -

  • Northernmost: Point Barrow, Alaska 71°23'20"N 156°28'45"W
  • Easternmost: Pochnoi Point, Semisopochnoi Island, Alaska 51°57'42"N 179°46'23"E
  • Westernmost: Amatignak Island, Alaska 51°16'7"N 179°8'55"W
share|improve this answer
3  
Three points? By this definition wouldn't anywhere along the 180 degree line of Longitude be both the most easterly point AND the most westerly point at the same time? – Doc Mar 15 '12 at 0:36
9  
not if they're separate islands on either side of the 180 deg line - ie with ocean between them. – Mark Mayo Mar 15 '12 at 0:43
2  
ANY point in Alaska would give it claim to being the Northernmost state in the US ... – Marcel Turing Mar 7 '15 at 19:34

If you look at the Aleutian Islands, parts of the chain is located in the Eastern Hemisphere so technically you can consider them to be the easternmost part of the United States, but since you normally go west to get there and considering their proximity to the antimeridian it crosses Amchitka pass they could be considered the westernmost part of the US as well.

I found an interesting article about Extreme Points of the US. When people say that "Everything new is just well forgotten old" I can easily believe it. From travel.SE archives. The last airline that had scheduled service to Attu was Reeve Aleutian Airlines, which ceased operations in 2000.

I found that you can actually fly close to the Point Barrow to Barrow Airport. As far as I can tell only Alaskan Airlines fly there but I could be wrong.

share|improve this answer

The answer depends on how the question is asked. GPS coordinates (i.e., longitude and latitude) are: Pochnoi Point, Semisopochnoi Island, Alaska 51°57'42"N 179°46'23"E Amatignak Island, Alaska 51°16'7"N 179°8'55"W Thereby making the point in the U.S. that is the farthest east Pochnoi Point and the point in the U.S. that is farthest west Amatignak Island. This is fact and requires no interpretation since the longitude confirms it.

If the question is, "What is the farthest point east and what is the farthest point west in the U.S.?", then Alaska is the answer. It contains the point with the westernmost longitude and it contains the point with the easternmost longitude.

The ambiguity arises when the question asked is, "What is the easternmost state and what is the westernmost state in the U.S.?" This is because there are at least three different definitions of "easternmost" and "westernmost". (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_extreme_points_of_the_United_States)

If one of the definitions of "easternmost" is used that is not the easternmost longitude, then nobody has stated what those points are. This is because if you use direction of travel, the westernmost point is in Guam and the easternmost point is in the Virgin Islands, both of which are U.S. Territories. (again, see the previous wikipedia reference).

The answer to the question needs to be given with precision. e.g., Alaska contains the westernmost longitude and the easternmost longitude in the U.S. or Guam contains the westernmost point in the U.S. by direction of travel and the Virgin Islands contain the easternmost point in the U.S. by direction of travel.

share|improve this answer
3  
Ah, but Guam and the US Virgin Islands are territories, not states. The OP's question restricts us only to "states." – Zach Lipton 2 days ago

Utter nonsense. A given state can be easternmost or westernmost, but not both (unless its east-west extent covers the entire rest of the nation). The easternmost point of Alaska's panhandle would have to be east of Eastport, ME, while the westernmost Aleutian island would have to be west of the westernmost Hawai'ian island (I think it is).

That a state or territory happens to lie across the 180th meridian does NOT make it both the easternmost and the westernmost state. Draw a continuous minimal bounding box around Alaska and compare it to bounding boxes around Hawai'i and the Lower 48. Draw a continuous bounding box around the 50 states.

Alaska is the westernmost and northernmost state. Maine is the easternmost. Hawai'i is the southernmost. Period.

share|improve this answer
9  
"East" and "West" depend on your frame of reference. You're assuming that the frame of reference is centered on the US, but the OP is using a frame of reference centered at Greenwich, UK (aka the prime meridian, 0 degrees longitude). – jpatokal Jun 4 '14 at 23:49
2  
Wrong. What counts is the minimal (continuous) bounding box that encloses all the real estate in question. If you split it at some arbitrary point (e.g., 180 degrees), it's no longer a continuous bounding box, but now two independent pieces. You would have the western Aleutians' box and the Rest of Alaska box, but you would not have an "Alaska" bounding box. – Phil Perry Jun 5 '14 at 18:06
2  
No, it's not wrong. He's defining "east" by longitude, ie. direction of travel from (0,0). You're defining "east" by direction of travel from an arbitrary point, namely the continental US. The world being spherical, there must always be a "split" where east turns into west; if you use a US frame of reference, it's around 90 deg E. – jpatokal Jun 5 '14 at 23:53
1  
It doesn't have anything to do with where you are "centered", it's how you draw your bounding box, as Phil said. If you say "what is the eastern-most point IN THE UNITED STATES" then you draw a box containing the United States, oriented so the north pole is atop, and look at the point furthest left. If you say "what is the eastern-most point IN THE WORLD which lies in a US state" then you would get different answers depending on where you draw your prime meridian (a bounding "box" covering the entire world is equivalent to a choice of a prime meridian). @jpatokal he didn't define east at all. – Marcel Turing Mar 7 '15 at 19:29
1  
Obviously the bounding box definition is better, because it doesn't depend upon an arbitrary choice (the choice of prime meridian). No matter how you draw your bounding box, as long as it is a topological disk containing the US in its interior, you will get the same answer: Alaska is the left-most, Maine is the right-most. – Marcel Turing Mar 7 '15 at 19:40

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.