Home > Math News Archive Detail

<< Prev 11/30/2008 Next >>

An Update...New PseudoCenter

The MathNexus Problem-Of-The-Week for April 29, 2007, was about a local mayor trying to find the geographical center for the city of Bellingham. The mathematician's solution of that problem turned out to be similar to how geodetic surveyors have located the center of the United States.

When the United States were numbered only 48, the center was in Lebanon (KS), moved 439 miles northwest to Butte County (MT) when Alaska got statehood, and then moved 6 miles south when Hawaii got statehood. The current location is a relatively unmarked spot near Belle Fourche (SD), where a lone flag flies.

But if you want to stand in the "pretend" or pseudo-center for commercial reasons, you can visit Belle Fourche and stand on its new 21-foot diameter marker made from etched granite.

To get to the "actual" geographic center, you need "to drive 13 miles on Hwy 85 north from the intersection of Hwy 85 and 212. Turn left onto Old Hwy 85 and drive 7.8 miles until you see a barn on your left hand side. On the right side of the road you will see a U.S. Flag flying freely about 30 yards into the pasture. At this location you will see the survey marker highlighting the "Center of the Nation."

I love those "rural" directions, but somehow feel the end result of a single flag in a pasture is not befitting such a special place: basically the mathematical "center" of the United States.

Source: Dan Barry's "This Land," New York Times, June 6, 2008