The U.S.-Mexican border gets a lot of attention, but in Derby Line, Vermont, Canadian residents can just stroll right in. In March, we covered the quirky Haskell Free Library and Opera House, which sits directly on the line that separates the New England town from Stanstead in Québec, Canada. Passports aren’t required to cross from the official entrance on the United States side to the Canadian side where most of the books are kept. But the black borderline that run’s across the library floor is somewhat strictly enforced: Bookworms are expected to return to their respective country post-visit and risk possible detention and fines if they don’t. And the dual-citizenship building, built in 1904, isn’t the only border-straddling site of its kind. Here are a few more spots that play it loose and free with the idea of clear boundaries.
1. DOWNTOWN BRISTOL // VIRGINIA AND TENNESSEE
Twin cities Bristol, Virginia and Bristol, Tennessee share a name, a border, and a downtown district where residents of both states gather for events such as the annual fall music fest, Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion. As the thousands of music lovers stroll down State Street they should be careful to watch their step—one side of the road is located in Virginia, the other in Tennessee.
2. FOUR CORNERS MONUMENT // UTAH, COLORADO, NEW MEXICO, AND ARIZONA
The quadripoint where the edges of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona meet is the only place in the United States where four states merge at one point. (Though some argue that the monument isn't exactly precise and the real point of convergence lies 1807 feet to the west.) The monument, managed by the Navajo National Department of Parks and Recreation, makes for a great photo op (place a limb in each state!) but the surrounding area offers little else. There’s no running water, electricity, or telephones and very few stores and gas stations within a 30-mile radius.
3. BAARLE-HERTOG, BELGIUM AND BAARLE NASSAU, NETHERLANDS
Dubbed “the most complicated border town in the world” by The Atlantic, this town, split between the Netherlands and Belgium, actually consists of more than 20 separate pieces of land—some as small as a little league baseball field. (There are also enclaves of the Netherlands enclosed by parts of Belgium that are enclosed by larger portions of the Netherlands.)
The earliest version of the screwy delineations reportedly came about from a series of land-swapping treaties between medieval Dukes. The result is a borderline that runs directly through houses and buildings. Each side of town has its own police officer, fire department, and mayor, and has to abide by different national laws. The messy situation has an unexpected upside, though: When a Dutch law required that restaurants shut down by a certain time, the owners simply had their patrons switch to a table on the Belgian side at closing time!
4. LLOYDMINSTER, CANADA// ALBERTA AND SASKATCHEWAN
Two years after the town was settled by England’s Barr Colonists in 1903, the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan were created—effectively splitting the area in two. (The fourth meridian line of longitude was selected as the divider.) For the next quarter century, the town of Lloydminster existed in Saskatchewan and the village of Lloydminster was in Alberta. The areas were joined into one municipality in 1930.
5. MONTEGO BAY RESORT // WEST WENDOVER, NEVADA AND WENDOVER, UTAH
This 552-room resort and casino’s official address is in West Wendover, Nevada, but it sits directly on the Utah-Nevada border. The placement means that the resort actually looks into the future. While the rest of Nevada is in the Pacific Time Zone, this tiny resort town, some 120 miles west of Salt Lake City, follows Utah clocks. They observe Mountain Standard Time in the winter and Mountain Daylight time from March until November.
6. NEW PINE CREEK // CALIFORNIA AND OREGON
The California-Oregon border splits this tiny rural town (population: roughly 250) in half, due to a mistake by surveyor Daniel Major in 1868. Because the New Pink Creek’s post office boxes are on the Oregon side of town, residents of the Golden State state carry California driver’s licenses that list Oregon addresses. (The city’s only school is in California.) “It’s a tale of two cities, only we’re just one little town,” local business owner Tom Carpenter told the L.A. Times. “This is definitely a strange place to live.”
7. MOUNT EVEREST// NEPAL AND CHINA
Scaling to the peak of one of the world’s highest mountain is no small feat—more than 200 people have died attempting the climb. But if you make it to the top you can celebrate another achievement: standing in two countries at once. The China-Nepal international border runs across the mountain’s summit. Something to consider before making the climb during peak season: price. Scaling the south side in Nepal (where most adventures start) will run you about $11,000 just for a climbing permit (which is only a small portion of the total cost.) In China, in the north side, the fee is about a third of that price. But that's not to say that taking the north route from Tibet is easier. Permits are issued by the China Tibet Mountaineering Association (CTMA), an organization that is known for being inconsistent when it comes to doling out access to Everest.
8. TEXARKANA // TEXAS AND ARKANSAS
on the border of Texas and Arkansas (Tex-arkana, get it?) has two mayors, two police forces, and two fire departments. But the twin cities share a slogan (“Texarkana, U.S.A., where life is so large, it takes two states!”), a main road, and a post office. Stand in front of the border-straddling building and you'll have one foot in each state.
9. HOOVER DAM // NEVADA AND ARIZONA
Thanks to the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, completed in 2010, visitors to this national historic landmark have the option of standing in two states at once. Not only that, placing one foot in Nevada and the other in Arizona (about 900 feet above the Colorado River) means you’re also in two different time zones!
10. CORNWALL ISLAND // QUEBEC AND HOGANSBURG, NEW YORK
A part of the Akwesasne reserve, this island is officially part of Ontario, Canada. But its position in the middle of the St. Lawrence River means it also straddles the Canadian province of Quebec and Hogansburg, New York in the U.S. (Some houses are even divided by the border with the house in Canada and the garage in the United States!) Visiting the island can be problematic for Americans: Since the Canadian Customs and Immigration station was moved from the island to the mainland in 2009, after Akwesasne Mohawks protested Canada’s decision to arm their officers, U.S. tourists must drive over one bridge to get to the island, another to check in at customs, and a third to head back.
BONUS: BIR TAWIL // EGYPT AND SUDAN (SORT OF)
This approximately 800-square mile plot of land between Egypt and Sudan was created in 1902, when a group of Brits drew a map that differed slightly from a version drawn three years earlier. The revision awarded Sudan a chunk of fertile area called the Hala’ib Triangle, while Egypt was given Bir Tawil, a fairly useless bit of the desert. Naturally, both Egypt and Sudan say Bir Tawil belongs to the other country, making it the one of the only pieces of land in the world not claimed by any nation. (Still, others have tried to claim it.) But you'll need the help of a knowledgable local to visit the no man's land. There are no maintained pathways to the region.