New! The Geocenter is "Moving"
By Stu Whitney, USA TODAY
March 22, 2007
Article excerpt: "When Alaska and Hawaii joined the union in 1959, the National
Geodetic Survey designated Belle Fourche, a ranch town of 4,500 residents in
western South Dakota, the geographic center of the USA.
Truth is, the marker for the center â€” as determined by the same agency â€” lies
about 20 miles north of the town on an uninhabited parcel of private pastureland.
"It's off a gravel road, and you have to go into a ditch, cross a barbed-wire fence, and
maneuver amongst the cactus and cow pies to find it," said Teresa Schanzenbach,
executive director of the Belle Fourche Chamber of Commerce.
Roughly 6,000 travelers come through the town's Center of the Nation Visitors
Center each year, she said, but only about 1,500 are adventurous enough to seek out
"Basically," Schanzenbach said, "it's a red-tipped fence post that stands up in the
ground. We feel like we need something more worthy of being the center of the
So local leaders have a solution. They're "moving" the geographic center of the USA
about 20 miles south, to get it closer to town.
The new "Center of the Nation" monument â€” with a planned picnic area and flags of
all 50 states â€” will be located off U.S. Highway 85, along the banks of the Belle
Fourche River. That puts it near the visitors center, which houses the Tri-State
Back to Q & A
Back to Tarol's Homepage
Where is the eeriest place
I've ever been?
Geographical Center of the United States, just north of Belle Fourche, SD on Hwy 85
Thanksgiving Day 2001
I went on a road trip on Thanksgiving Weekend, 2001. I was living in Laramie, WY at
the time and did not have nearby family or friends to spend the holiday with, so I went
a travelin'. Great time to travel, by the way, you pretty much can have any place you
want to yourself!
So I went through the Thunder Basin National Grassland and up to Devil's Tower and
then over to Belle Fourche, SD for the first night. The next morning I woke up early
and pondered the map a bit and saw that the geographical center of the United States
was just up the highway a little bit. On the map there was a picnic ground symbol, so I
figured there'd be a few picnic tables, maybe some interpretive signs, you know, the
usual for this sort of touristy thing.
Well, I headed up the highway and in no time at all came to where this picnic ground was
supposed to be. But there was nothing there... Nothing. No tables, no signs, only an old
gated drive leading up a hill. So like the adventurous person I am, I hopped the gate
and walked up the hill. I thought maybe the site was just closed for the season...
Well, the drive made a circle a little ways up, but there was absolutely nothing there.
I felt cheated. I mean, you advertise that this is the geographical center of the
United States, and don't even put up a sign? What gives?
Ah, well, there were some interesting rocks, just stuck out on the hill like an erratic
or something. All in all it was all quite eerie...