Geographic Center of the 48 States

February 1992

The photo above shows the "Point of Interest" sign that the state has posted along eastbound US Highway 36 west of Lebanon KS (there's an identical sign on the other side of Lebanon as well, for westbound US 36 traffic).

If you exit US 36 and head north about a mile on US 281, you'll see signs such as the one shown below around Lebanon.

November 2001

North-central Kansas is known as "Post Rock Country". There aren't a lot of trees from which to make fenceposts. However, the early settlers in the area found there are a lot of limestone outcroppings, so the rocks were cut and used for that purpose. It's a neat local distinctive, and recently people have begun using post rock for other decorative purposes, as you can see above. Kansas' state flower (the Sunflower) and state bird (the Meadowlark) are the other images cut into the rock.

About one mile further north of Lebanon is the east beginning of KS hwy. 191, which is a mile-long road that exists for the sole purpose of transporting sightseers to the Geographic Center. (In the photo below, the sign assembly at far right is for northbound 281 traffic.)

November 2001

The photo below was taken from southbound US 281.

November 2001

Anyway, turn to the west on K-191, and in one mile the highway ends at a T-intersection with a gravel section-line road. Visible in front of you is a stone monument that marks the geographic center of the United States.

November 2001

This monument marks the exact center of the 48 contiguous states. That means, if you were to take a two-dimensional map of the 48 states and balance it on a pencil, the pencil would be pointing right here. A close-up of the plaque on the monument is shown below.

February 1992

Looks like that plaque was made in 1941 - the information on it became obsolete in 1959 (more on that below).

There are a few other things to see here, too. For one thing, it looks like the boarded-up building in the background of the photo below once served as a hotel!

November 2001

Kind of funny to imagine this place as an overnight vacation destination. The white building in the foreground is a tiny "U.S. Center Chapel", shown close-up below.

November 2001

There's also a miniature "map" of Kansas, the border of which is formed by seedlings. The photo below was taken from the backside of the monument, looking east along almost the entire length of K-191.

November 2001

The white sign at left is shown close-up below.

November 2001


Perhaps you're wondering, so: with the addition of Alaska and Hawaii to the Union, the geographic center of the U.S. shifted to an even more remote spot, about 20 miles north of Belle Fourche SD. I was there in 2004; you can view photos on this page. The geographic center of North America is near Rugby ND. I haven't been there, but you can find lots of photos posted on the web.