During our recent travels from home to visit family in Kansas, we took back roads from Nebraska through the northern part of Kansas. It was the best way to get to the home of my sweetheart’s cousin. We loved seeing rural America up close. It was a joy to travel through small towns and past farms and have a chance to see life in places we’d never been before. As I looked at the map to help find our way, I noticed a small spot that said ‘Geographic Center of the Contiguous United States’. Near that spot we began to see signs that pointed the way to this ‘center’ of our part of the world. We decided to take a short detour off our route to see this site – we thought it might be our only chance to see this spot. We drove through Lebanon, Kansas and then followed signs along this route.
It was a quiet spot - not much happening there – but the peaceful setting seemed just right. It wasn’t a ‘grand’ place. It was simple. And right. To be at the center of our country and find a quiet place was just the way it should be! No big buildings. No noisy freeways. No crowds of people. No hoopla. Just quiet.
I stood in front of this sign and looked to the left. . .
And to the right.Across the road, a monument had been placed to mark this place. The marker supposedly indicates the actual point measured by a survey performed in 1918. The measured center is actually about half a mile away on a private farm. The farm's owner did not want tourists trudging through his fields, so the marker was placed as close as possible. In 1918, the Coast and Geodetic Survey found this location by balancing a cardboard cutout shaped like the U.S. on a point. Apparently this method was only accurate to within twenty miles. The Geodetic Survey no longer endorses any location as the center of the U.S. – but the identification of Lebanon, Kansas has not been changed.A sign made of post rock welcomes visitors to the small park. Soon I’ll share more about post rock – it’s quite an interesting part of this area.
My sweetheart pointed out our location.This little chapel is near the monument. There are four pews inside. The chapel is available for weddings and other special celebrations. When Alaska and Hawaii became states in 1959, the National Geodetic Survey designated Belle Fourche, a ranch town in western South Dakota, as the geographic center of the USA. No matter where the center may be, it was nice to take a few minutes away from the noise and the crowds of everyday life in the center of our country. For a few moments of time - somewhere in America’s Heartland - we enjoyed a few quiet moments. Enjoying ‘the sound of silence’ was a good thing. I treasure the memory of being there with my sweetheart. I think about it often. It ‘centers’ me when things get busy and it always brings a smile to my face and a sense of quiet to my heart!