LEBANON, Kan. — The center of America might be mistaken for the middle of nowhere. But not by Kansans.
"I have always been here. It is just home. It is not a big town but we are blessed with business," said Lori LaDow, president of the Lebanon Hub Club, the town's chamber of commerce, and co-owner of LaDow's Market, which sells souvenirs — T-shirts, mugs, magnets, pencils, pens, postcards and key rings — boasting Lebanon as the "Geographical Center of the Conterminous U.S."
This patch of land has been described as the heart of America.
For mapmakers and surveyors, this portion of Kansas is one of the most important spots on the continent. From this point, all distances in North America are measured.
Kansas boasts three centers: the continental center, the geodetic center and the halfway mark.
Lebanon is the center of the continental United States.
A hilltop on pasture land near Osborne marks the geodetic center, the center point of reference for surveyors for all of North America. "When a surveyor checks the lines of your property and uses geodetic markers as a reference point, he is positioning your lot in relation to Meades Ranch (in Osborne County)," said Rex Buchanan, interim director of the Kansas Geological Survey.
And, a tiny park in Kinsley off U.S. 50 highway is known as the halfway point between New York and San Francisco.
"When you stand at the geographic center of the nation, you are about as far from everywhere as you can possibly be — far from San Francisco, Hollywood or New York," said Thomas Fox Averill, a Kansas historian and a professor of English at Washburn University in Topeka. It is an interesting dichotomy — in the center, yet so far, far away.
"Being in Kansas puts you in the middle of time and space," Averill said. "Everywhere you look, there is distance. That sense of being is at the center of the Plains experience, of surviving that aloneness. It forces you to make your own significance. You have to earn your significance."
Read more of this story at Kansas.com