My grandma's grandfather, Helaman Pratt, first went from Utah to Mexico in 1875 and his descendants have been wandering back and forth over the border ever since. My grandma herself spent her growing-up years as far south as Mexico City and as far north as southern Idaho--with many of those years spent in the area around El Paso, Texas.
Now, the borders around El Paso were defined in the mid-1800s by the Rio Grande. But as my grandmother told me when I was a child, the river never did know or care that it was a border. So from time to time, it's up and changed course.
Which creates an interesting dispute: where does the border go when the river shifts?
You could look up past disputes and find several different answers from several different negotiations. But if you were the judge, what would be your initial impulse?
Does the border remain at the place where the river was when the border was first negotiated? Or is it better to just say the border moves when the river does?
There are more complicated options, of course, for those of you who prefer detailed jurisprudence. Are there other factors which need to be taken into account to determine whether the old course or the new course of the river should be followed? Should the new border somehow split the difference between the river's old and new courses? Etc.
I think this is a fascinating problem. I would love to hear your responses: where should the border go when the river shifts and (perhaps more importantly) why?
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