By Justin Schuver (Contact) | Andalusia Star-News
Published Friday, December 4, 2009 More than 35 professional surveyors and engineers are visiting Andalusia this week to take part in a “hidden treasure” hunt. But in this case, their treasure is literally nothing more than piles of dirt.

The professionals are participating in the Auburn University-sponsored workshop, “Locating the Ellicott Mounds Along the Alabama/ Florida Boundary.” The Ellicott mounds were established in 1799 by Andrew Ellicott and a team of both Spanish and American surveyors, and were used to mark the 31st parallel and show the boundary between Alabama and Spanish-owned Florida.

Some of these dirt mounds lie along the Alabama-Florida border between the Conecuh and the Chattahoochee Rivers, but most of them are unmarked and undocumented. The workshop, which began Thursday and continues today, is an attempt to re-discover some of those mounds.

“The opportunity you have today is the chance to go out to these mounds and say, ‘This is where the U.S. border literally was, in 1799,’” said Dr. Larry Crowley, a member of the civil engineering faculty at Auburn University and one of the seminar instructors.

Crowley, along with fellow seminar instructor Milton Denny, has been researching the Ellicott mound line for years. Early survey maps show the mound’s locations, and Global Positioning Systems and data from the U.S. Geological Survey can be used to determine the precise spots where they can be found. Thursday, at Andalusia City Hall, Crowley and Denny briefed the 35 professionals on the history surrounding the mounds and the task to re-discover them.

“These mounds haven’t been lost,” Crowley said. “We’ve just not been looking in the right spots.” ...