The geographic center of the contiguous United States
Location: Near Lebanon, Kansas
When to visit: During daylight hours
Time needed to enjoy: 5 minutes
Website: Wikipedia site (unofficial)
If you took a cardboard cutout of the lower 48 states and balanced it on top of a narrow object, where would the exact geographic center be? Turns out it’s near Route 281 and the town of Lebanon, Kansas.
I found this historical marker near Route 281 not far from the Nebraska-Kansas border. As noted, this spot marking the exact center has been officially established by the U.S. Geological Survey.
Visiting the geographic center of the contiguous United States
The marker itself is not the exact center of the U.S. As the sign notes, the precise center is a few miles away.
But this where they’ve chosen the recognize the geographic center of the United States, so this is where you can come to get your Instagram photos.
Even if you make it here, you still won’t be able to reach the “exact” center, because it’s on private property. Another marker has been set up in a public park, which as close as you can get to the true center of the U.S.
This is surely not something you’d drive miles out of your way to see. It’s not within 100 miles of anything, except for small farm communities.
This is what most of the surrounding area looks like:
But if you find yourself driving through northern Kansas (I passed through while taking a purposely circuitous route from Denver to Omaha), you should at least pull over to the side of the road to get a photo.
It’s pretty cool to say you’ve been at the (almost) exact center of the continental United States.
Note that this is the exact center of the contiguous United States, meaning the lower 48 states. If you take Alaska into account, then the exact center lies in Belle Fourche, South Dakota.
Interested in more geographic fun? Check out these articles as well:
The exact longitudinal center of Canada. Tache, Manitoba (near Winnipeg) is the spot of the exact east-west center of Canada. There’s a fancy marker and a public park there.
The southernmost point in the continental United States. It’s the famous red, black, and yellow concrete buoy in Key West, Florida that marks the southernmost point in the continental U.S.
The southernmost point in the USA (Hawaii). The real southernmost point in the U.S. can be found in Naalehu, Hawaii. There’s no marker here. It’s just a random spot in a rocky outcrop on the ocean.
Don’t forget to check out some of the other attractions in Kansas, like the imposing Keeper of the Plains statue, the unusual Museum of World Treasures, and the beauty of the rainbow house next to the Westboro Baptist Church.
Read also about my road trip through eastern Kansas, from Kansas City to Topeka to Wichita.
Are you interested in geographic quirks like this when you take road trips?