The Geographic Center of the Contiguous United States is located about two miles northwest of Lebanon, Kansas. A small stone pyramid marks the point measured by a survey performed in 1918. A picnic table and cozy chapel (seats about six) are nearby. Couples can be married at the chapel and a bible and guest book allow visitors to reflect and mark their attendance to the middle of America. The actual center is located on a private farm less than a mile away.
The chapel was destroyed when hit by a speeding vehicle which missed the turn at the T intersection at the end of Highway on June 1, 2008. It has since been replaced by a new tiny chapel and flag pole.
Perhaps “center” is a stretch of the imagination, though, as the method of measuring this turned out to be a bit unorthodox. In 1918, the Coast and Geodetic Survey found this spot by balancing on a point a cardboard cutout shaped like the U.S. Measured in this way, the actual center could be located twenty or more miles away.
The center is mentioned in Neil Gaiman’s book American Gods and the 1969 film The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes. Visitors can stop by the monument and chapel any time of day all through the year, free of charge. Souvenirs can be purchased back in the town of Lebanon.
Know Before You Go
Take US Highway 281 north 1 mile, and turn west one mile on K-191 to the marker that has been erected at the end of the paved road. The actual center is about a half mile away in the center of a former hog farm.