East, West, and Points in Between

By James Fallows

Yesterday I rashly entered the "when does west become east?" debate, involving whether Maine or Alaska can more properly claim to include the furthest-east point in the United States.

Now we hear from none other than Captain Bob Peacock, a protagonist of my story about Eastport, Maine in the January issue of the magazine, to resolve the dispute:

West Quoddy Head light

Sail rock off West Quoddy Head [right] in Lubec is the Easternmost Point.

Lubec is the Easternmost Town,

Eastport is the Easternmost City.

And Annabells in Lubec would be the Easternmost Bar in the country, only slightly beating out the Waco in Eastport [above] by about 30 feet.

These things truly matter in the Down East World.

And further on east/west issues, from a reader:

I agree with Mr. Godfrey ["Alaska is furthest east" in previous item], in the sense that it's a good trivia question. It's also a good way to demonstrate the extraordinary size and breadth of our largest state. On the other hand, Mr Strip ["No, it's Maine"] is more correct from an 'intuitive' sense, as you and he pointed out.

But it reminds me of another favorite 'wrong' geographic trivia question: What body of water does the east end of the Panama Canal open in to? 

Here is where we have a discussion over Atlantic vs. Caribbean, or how to pronounce 'Caribbean'. But the correct answer is: the Pacific Ocean.

Mr Godfrey might say that the Pacific entrance to the canal has a more eastern longitude than the Atlantic (Caribbean) entrance. Mr Strip might argue that it is irrelevant, since a ship traveling from Pacific to Atlantic is traveling easterly, so intuitively the 'east' end of the Canal is the Atlantic side.

As shown here:

I knew this already, having been through the canal with my friend Bob Pastor at the time of its transfer to Panamanian control. But in case you didn't: Now you do!  

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This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2014/02/east-west-and-points-in-between/284130/