Photographer Capturing the 40th Parallel All Across the United States

Want to see an example of what dedication to a photography project looks like? Check out The Fortieth Parallel, an ongoing series by Cambridge, Massachusetts-based photographer Bruce Myren. It’s a set of photographs captured across the 40th degree of latitude across the United States, at every whole degree of longitude. See those markers on the Google Map above? Those are all the photo spots that Myren aims to photograph.

The official name for the line is the “40th parallel north“. Here are the states it touches: California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.

Myren explains that the project was birthed over two decades ago through a random conversation with a friend:

The core idea of this project came to me while I was living for a year in Boulder, Colorado in 1991. A friend and I were sitting on top of Flagstaff Mountain and gazing at the scene. I noticed that the road we drove up, Baseline Road went east in a straight line as far as I could see. I asked my friend if he knew why it was called this. He replied that it was the 40th parallel of latitude, and went on to explain that it was the baseline for creating townships and homesteads, and was a key marker to the settlement of the West. I had a project: I was going to document these arbitrary points of human measurement and the landscape found at the intersections. [#]

The GPS and large-format camera used for the project

He began traveling to the locations in 1998 when civilian GPS navigation emerged, and has since been to 28 of the 52 points on the project roadmap. 53 miles separate each of the points, which cover 20-square-foot areas at each of the locations. Myren restricts himself to these small patches of land and captures single panoramas, each one comprising three 8×10 color transparency photos shot using his large-format Deardorff camera.

Here’s a selection of the panoramas he has captured so far, along with details about where and when each was captured:

N 40° 00’ 00” W 124° 00’ 00” Whitethorn, California, 2012

N 40° 00’ 00” W 109° 00’ 00” Rangely, Colorado, 2000

N 40¡ 00′ 00″ W 108¡ 00′ 00″, Meeker, Colorado, 2000

N 40° 00’ 00” W 101° 00’ 00” Ludell, Kansas, 2011

N 40° 00’ 00” W 97° 00’ 00” Hollenberg, Kansas, 2007

N 40° 00’ 00” W 95° 00’ 00” Fillmore, Missouri, 2007

N 40° 00’ 00” W 92° 00’ 00” Newark, Missouri, 2011

N 40° 00’ 00” W 83° 00’ 00” Columbus, Ohio, 1999

N 40° 00’ 00” W 81° 00’ 00” Belmont, Ohio, 1999

N 40° 00’ 00” W 80° 00’ 00” Fredericktown Hill, Pennsylvania, 2006

N 40° 00’ 00” W 78° 00’ 00” Harrisonville, Pennsylvania, 2006

N 40° 00’ 00” W 77° 00’ 00” East Berlin, Pennsylvania, 2006

N 40° 00’ 00” W 76° 00’ 00” Gap, Pennsylvania, 1999

N 40° 00’ 00” W 75° 00’ 00” Riverton, New Jersey, 2003

N 40° 00’ 00” W 74° 03’ 32” Normandy Beach, New Jersey, 1998

Myren had a very successful fundraising campaign on Kickstarter earlier this year, raising $17,860 to finish the project he has worked on for over a decade. He plans to finish the project early next year by photographing the final locations in Indiana and Illinois.

You can read Myren’s lengthy description of the project here, or check out more of the panoramas he has captured thus far here.

P.S. Myren was inspired to share this project with us after seeing our post about photographer Andrew Filer photographing every dot on the map of North Dakota. Also, did you know that the 40th parallel line is the line that was chosen to divide Kansas and Nebraska?

Image credits: Photographs by Bruce Myren and used with permission

  • Zak Henry

    Fun and somewhat irrelevant fact: If you did the same project with Myren’s spacing (53 miles) in my home country of New Zealand at 40° South, you would only need to take two photos.

  • Kevin Cummings

    He was a professor of mine at The New England Institute of Art in Brookline, Ma. I saw some of these a few years ago in class.Way to go Bruce!

  • Anthony Harrison

    These are real nice

  • Nikola Ovcharski

    Great idea

  • Joe Hinson

    Be a whole lot quicker!

  • tiredofit123

    Now he just needs to string all the photos together into a movie.

  • Barkingdog48

    Lived along the 40th at Denver Colorado..aprox and Beijing aprox.for 40 years.

  • James Woo

    Zak, may be for NZ, you could consider north to south?

  • Spirulina


  • Steve King

    Hmm…52 points in ten years…Thats…uhm…Nevermind…

  • Bruce

    Yes, I use that website to see what might be there before I go

  • Timothy J. Picard

    @facebook-1374065623:disqus Yes its amazing indeed!

  • Tom

    Just curious–Why did you choose to shoot south into Kansas on all the photos when along the Nebraska/Kansas border?

  • justApoint


  • kmoser

    Muybridge called. He wants his photos back.

  • Meefo King

    Exactly. He raised $17000+ on Kickstarter to shoot just two more states? Just another gimmick, and folks are feeding him money so he can call himself an artist. It’s the title he wants.

  • Bruce Myren

    As GPS technology has improved surveyed lines from the 1800s are not always where the surveyors thought they were. The border is still where it always was, but the 40th parallel is now in Kansas by about 50 to 100 feet.

  • JulieB

    It’s too bad that he didn’t include the 6th Principal Meridian near Mahaska, Kansas, as a bonus. It has everything to do with how the Township, Section and Range numbers were created.

  • Bruce Myren

    AN UPDATE… The project is complete and can be seen in its entirety at

  • Bruce Myren

    Hi Julie,

    I did photograph the 6th Principal Meridian at the 40th Parallel while I was there in 2007.

  • JulieB

    My husband and I live in Kansas, and I photographed our dog at each of the corner markers. In one, we each have a foot in a different state!

  • Bruce Myren

    That’s great, such beautiful country out there. Miss it.

  • JulieB

    They may call it a “fly over state”, but they don’t know what they’re missing!