Massachusetts is South of Connecticut and other Geographical Oddities

Looking a map of the United States reveals some quirky oddities. For example it is possible to drive north from Massachusetts into Connecticut. We’ve all heard of different oddities like the Lake of the Woods in Minnesota or that Canada is south of Detroit. Here’s a list of some other improbably geographical oddities that you can check out next time you’re out traveling.

Driving South from Massachusetts into Connecticut

Everyone knows that Massachusetts is north of Connecticut, right? What someone told you that you can drive north from Massachusetts and enter Connecticut? Normally it would not be possible but there is a jog in the Massachusetts/Connecticut border that makes this possible. Looking at a map makes it look like this jog is a square but looking at it closely, it’s much more nuanced.

Map showing Connecticut being north of Massachusetts
Route 168 travels northeast/southwest between Connecticut and Massachusetts

The border follows the eastern shoreline of the Congamond Lakes but there is a causeway that divides the lakes and the causeway is angled northeast/southwest and route 168 crosses here. This takes someone driving on an easterly direction to more northeasterly in order to enter Connecticut.

New York is South of Vermont?

Everyone knows that Vermont is a New England state and that New York state is west of New England but that doesn’t mean you can’t travel south out of Vermont into New York. Vermont includes Lake Champlain all the way south to a point near Whitehall, NY.

Map showing New York state surrounded by Vermont.
Vermont extends north of New York south of Lake Champaign

This area extends into New York giving a traveler the opportunity to travel south from Vermont into New York state.

Part of Illinois is WEST of the Mississippi River

Here’s another geographical oddity. This one sounds a little crazy because Illinois is east of the Mississippi River but part of it did move west of the river in 1881. Flooding caused the channel of the Mississippi River to change leaving the town of Kaskaskia to be west of the Mississippi and the rest of Illinois.

Parts of Illinois are west of the Mississippi River
Part of Illinois is West of the Mississippi River

Kaskaskia is actually the original capital of Illinois before 1819 and was originally settled by the French in the early 1700s.

Montana is north of South Dakota?

Yes, most of Montana lies north of South Dakota but we typically think of North Dakota as the state that lies north of South Dakota but how about Montana? It’s true! Part of Montana extends east over Wyoming allowing a traveler to travel north from South Dakota and enter Montana:

Map showing Montana north of South Dakota
Montana extends east of Wyoming making it possible to travel north from South Dakota into Montana

Florida is West of Georgia

The next two are a pair of geographical oddities. I know what you’re thinking – Alabama is west of Georgia but what if I told you that part of Florida is actually west of it? For several miles in the Florida panhandle, Florida bumps north into Alabama, making it west of Georgia and not Alabama:

Map showing Florida west of Georgia
In this portion of the Florida Panhandle, Florida is west of Georgia

Florida is East of Georgia

I know we just demonstrated how part of Florida is due west of Georgia but it’s also true part of Florida is due east of Florida. So how can Florida be both east and west of Georgia? Easy! Over on the eastern side of Florida there is a jog in the Florida/Georgia border much like the Connecticut/Massachusetts border where part of Florida sticks north into Georgia around the Saint Mary’s River. Here it’s possible to travel east from St George, Georgia and enter Florida.

Map showing Georgia west of of Florida
Florida is both east and west of Georgia

Where else could you reach 5 states in under an hour?

No, we are not talking about smaller eastern states because technically there are single points where you could reach 5 states in an hour but there’s an easier place where you can do that – the Panhandle of Oklahoma. That port of Oklahoma is surrounded by 5 states making the feat much easier.

Map showing the 5 states within an hour of the Oklahoma Panhandle
The Oklahoma Panhandle is surrounded by 4 other states

Kentucky is West of Indiana

This is another one of those anomalies caused by bends in a river but while we think of Kentucky as being south a Indiana, it is possible to travel west in Indiana and enter Kentucky. The Ohio Rivers twists and turns to make the south border of Indiana and in Cannelton the river flows north giving us the geographical oddity that we can travel west across the river on route 69 and enter Kentucky to the west.

Map showing Kentucky west of Indiana
Route 69 travels southwest from Indiana to Kentucky

Texas is so big, it’s West of Denver

Everyone knows that Texas is big but it’s easy to forget how big it is. It’s eastern border is along the gulf of Mexico but many forget how far west the western border goes. Texas’s western border is so far west that it’s actually west of Denver and much of Colorado and New Mexico. It’s actually possible to make a day trip from Tucson to El Paso and back.

Map showing Denver is east of parts of Texas
Texas’s Western Border is West of Denver

Tennessee is East of Virginia

Tennessee borders 8 different states and shares that distinction with Missouri. It’s shaped like a parallelogram and most people think that Virginia is one of it’s neighbors to its north. While it does share a border with Virginia to its north, it’s possible to travel east of Tennessee and enter Virginia.

Map showing Tennessee is east of Virginia
East of Bristol the Tennessee border takes a jog to the north


So there you have it. 10 geographic oddities that you can explore and do things that normally you wouldn’t be able to. Check out our other Guides and informative articles!