Where exactly does the middle of the United States be found?

The center of a baseball, the center of the Earth, the center of the universe, and the center of a Tootsie Pop are all points of interest for many people. Amazing scientific discoveries, such as the orbits of planets and the movements of stars, have resulted from our insatiable curiosity about

The center of a baseball, the center of the Earth, the center of the universe, and the center of a Tootsie Pop are all points of interest for many people.

Amazing scientific discoveries, such as the orbits of planets and the movements of stars, have resulted from our insatiable curiosity about the center of things. Less well-known discoveries include the number of licks it takes to reach the center of a jawbreaker.

The exact middle of things that aren't perfectly circular or easily measured is a matter of some contention. For many years, for instance, there has been heated debate over the precise location of the geographic center of the 48 contiguous states.

The geographical center of the United States has shifted as the country has grown and new states have been admitted. Map: NOAA

Because shorelines are in constant motion and subject to rapid erosion and change, it is notoriously difficult to obtain accurate measurements of land masses.

There are two common practices for determining the geographic center of the United States. which were added to the country after the first geographic center measurement was taken; this first measurement only included the lower 48 states, which significantly shifted the geographic center's location.

An Earlier Estimation of the Continental United States' Geographical Center

Historically, people have placed the original geographic center of the 48 contiguous states at about 2 Located 9 kilometers northwest of Lebanon, Kansas The coordinates in question are 39 degrees, 50 minutes north and 98 degrees, 35 minutes west.

A group of servicemen pose in front of the contiguous United States' geographic center in the Lebanon, Kansas area in 1918. Picture courtesy of the Mennonite Church USA Archives; no copyright restrictions that we are aware of.

The United States government made this measurement in 1918. S States of Arizona and New Mexico were added to the lower 48 in 1912, and the National Geodetic Survey accounted for them. At the time, this was considered the most comprehensive estimate in the United States.

The U S The NGS did not have sophisticated digital tools for pinpointing the geographic center of the USA back then. Instead, the geographic center of the nation was determined by balancing a cardboard cutout of the country on the head of a pin.

Now, obviously, this isn't a great way to locate the geographic center of a country. The NGS made due with what they had and produced a center measurement accurate to 20 miles. Lebanon was the closest major city to the geographic center's actual location, which was a hog farm just on the outskirts of town. In 1940, a plaque disparaging the geographic center of the United States was installed about half a mile away to keep tourists off the hog farm's land.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman memorializes the geographic midpoint of the United States. A small chapel, a plaque, and an American flag can be found there today.

Locational Heart of the Entire USA

Including Alaska and Hawaii, Belle Fourche, South Dakota, is roughly in the geographic center of the United States.

Despite the NGS's current stance being "neutral," this is the preferred method of determining the geographic center of the United States. Twenty miles to the north of Belle Fourche, this point of geographic significance can be found at latitude 44° 58′ 02. Latitude: 07622 (N), Longitude: 103(46)17 60283 (W)

The geographic center of the United States, including Hawaii and Alaska, is marked by a geodetic marker placed there by the National Geodetic Survey. Source: NOAA

Even though the exact measured center is located nearby and is only marked by an underground slab of concrete in a nearby pastureland, this location also features a plaque from the NGS and an American flag.

Modern measurements are about 550 miles off from those taken in 1918.

Positions of the 50 states in the United States S 2010 U.S. Census data for the geographic, mean, and median centers of population and household income.

Although the more recent geographic center (Belle Fourche, South Dakota) was measured more precisely, it may be impossible to pinpoint the exact geographic center of the United States.

The National Geodetic Survey (NGS) and other relevant organizations need to reach consensus on shorelines if they are to develop a unified strategy for determining whether or not erosion and shoreline change should be factored into measurements of the geographic center of the United States.

Many Americans could care less if there is a true geographic center of the country, but for others, it is mission critical to locate this point. The historical and geographical significance of Lebanon, Kansas, and Belle Fourche, South Dakota, may not seem all that exciting to most of us, but they serve as reminders of the physical changes that have occurred in the United States over the course of its existence.

Determining the Geographical Center of the United States in 2015

For quite some time, people have argued over where exactly the geographical center of the United States is. There are many methods for determining where the exact geographical center of a city, country, or continent is located. While some geographers include islands and other bodies of water in their calculations, others do not.

The U S The Geological Survey admitted there was no foolproof method for pinpointing geographical midpoints. As the agency noted in a 1964 report on state centers, "There is no generally accepted definition of geographic center, and no completely satisfactory method of determining it." ”

Peter Rogerson, PhD, of the University at Buffalo, saw this difficulty as no reason not to investigate viable methods for determining the geographic centers of all 50 states.

In 2015, Rogerson published a paper in The Professional Geographer detailing his method for pinpointing the exact location of a geographic feature. In order to locate the geographic center of the 48 contiguous states, he used his method and declared:

Geographically, the heart of the lower 48 states and DC is located at 39°N 80°W. 8355 N, 99 0909 W The population of this Kansas town is 5. Distance from Agra: 3 Miles East 1300 Road and East Mohawk Road, which is 5 miles from Kensington. It lies 29 Distance in great circle miles from the official center of Lebanon, Kansas to the west by 5 miles

It may seem futile to try to locate the exact center of a large area, but historically, this was how political capitals were chosen for states and cities. The geographic focal point of most people's attention is typically the geographic heart of their city or state, or some other distinctive feature of their immediate physical surroundings.

Rogerson's new method is more complex because it accounts for the curvature of the Earth when determining a geographic center, unlike the USGS's cardboard cutout method from the 1960s. Rogerson's equations made use of the azimuthal equidistant map projection.

The next article is entitled "Extreme Geography in the United States."

References

Barmore, F E (1994) Place the center of attention here, the center of attention there, and the center of attention everywhere. https://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/handle/2027.42/60202/Reprint94BarmoreA.pdf

Locational Heart of the USA (n d Administration for Oceanic and Atmospheric Research https://www.ngs.noaa.gov/PUBS_LIB/GeoCenter_USA1.pdf

"Richeson, D (2005) Cities and towns across the USA 36(5), 366-373 The College Mathematics Journal https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/07468342.2005.11922151

P. Rogerson A (2015) A Novel Approach to Locating State Centers in the United States Sixty-seven (4):686-694 in The Professional Geographer.

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