Resources for Teachers

Geographic Centers

Because there is no generally accepted definition of a geographic center and no completely satisfactory method of determining it, there may be as many geographic centers of a State or county as there are definitions of the term.

The geographic center of an area may be defined as the center of gravity of the surface, or that point on which the surface of an area would balance if it were a plane of uniform thickness.

Curvature of the Earth, large bodies of water, irregular surfaces, and other factors affect the determination of center of gravity.

In determining the centers of the States, islands adjacent to their coastlines and large bodies of water were excluded.

The geographic centers and positions listed below should be considered as approximations.

 

State County Locality
Alabama Chilton 12 miles southwest of Clanton
Alaska 63°50' N., 152°00' W., 60 miles northwest of Mount McKinley
Arizona Yavapai 55 miles east-southeast of Prescott
Arkansas Pulaski 12 miles northwest of Little Rock
California Madera 38 miles east of Madera
Colorado Park 30 miles northwest of Pikes Peak
Connecticut Hartford At East Berlin
Delaware Kent 11 miles south of Dover
District of Columbia NA Near Fourth and L Streets N.W.
Florida Hernando 12 miles north-northwest of Brooksville
Georgia Twiggs 18 miles southeast of Macon
Hawaii Hawaii 20°15' N., 156°20' W., off Maui Island
Idaho Custer At Custer, southwest of Challis
Illinois Logan 28 miles northeast of Springfield
Indiana Boone 14 miles north-northwest of Indianapolis
Iowa Story 5 miles northeast of Ames
Kansas Barton 15 miles northeast of Great Bend
Kentucky Marion 3 miles north-northwest of Lebanon
Louisiana Avoyelles 3 miles southeast of Marksville
Maine Piscataquis 18 miles north of Dover
Maryland Prince Georges 4 1/2 miles northwest of Davidsonville
Massachusetts Worcester North part of City of Worcester
Michigan Wexford 5 miles north-northwest of Cadillac
Minnesota Crow Wing 10 miles southwest of Brainerd
Mississippi Leake 9 miles west-northwest of Carthage
Missouri Miller 20 miles southwest of Jefferson City
Montana Fergus 11 miles west of Lewistown
Nebraska Custer 10 miles northwest of Broken Bow
Nevada Lander 26 miles southeast of Austin
New Hampshire Belknap 3 miles east of Ashland
New Jersey Mercer 5 miles southeast of Trenton
New Mexico Torrance 12 miles south-southwest of Willard
New York Madison 12 miles south of Oneida and 26 miles southwest of Utica
North Carolina Chatham 10 miles northwest of Sanford
North Dakota Sheridan 5 miles southwest of McClusky
Ohio Delaware 25 miles north-northeast of Columbus
Oklahoma Oklahoma 8 miles north of Oklahoma City
Oregon Crook 25 miles south-southeast of Prineville
Pennsylvania Centre 2 1/2 miles southwest of Bellefonte
Rhode Island Kent 1 mile south-southwest of Crompton
South Carolina Richland 13 miles southeast of Columbia
South Dakota Hughes 8 miles northeast of Pierre
Tennessee Rutherford 5 miles northeast of Murfreesboro
Texas McCulloch 15 miles northeast of Brady
Utah Sanpete 3 miles north of Manti
Vermont Washington 3 miles east of Roxbury
Virginia Buckingham 5 miles southwest of Buckingham
Washington Chelan 10 miles west-southwest of Wenatchee
West Virginia Braxton 4 miles east of Sutton
Wisconsin Wood 9 miles southeast of Marshfield
Wyoming Fremont 58 miles east-northeast of Lander
Geographic Area Locality Latitude
(N)
Longitude
(W.)
Conterminous United States
(48 States)
Near Lebanon, Smith County, Kansas 39°50' 98°35'
Continental United States
(49 States)
Near Castle Rock, Butte County, South Dakota 44°59' 103°38'
The United States
(50 States)
West of Castle Rock, Butte County, South Dakota 44°58' 103°46'
North American Continent 6 miles west of Balta, Pierce County, North Dakota 48°10' 100°10'

No marked or monumented point has been established by any government agency as the geographic center of either the 50 States, the conterminous United States, or the North American continent. However, a monument was erected in Lebanon, Kansas, by a group of citizens who hired engineers to determine the position of the "geographic center" of the United States.

Sometimes confused with geographic center of the United States is the triangulation station "Meades Ranch," located at latitude 39°13'26.686" North and longitude 98°32'30.506" West, about 12 miles north of Lucas, Kansas. This was the primary reference point for the North American Datum of 1927, the standard on which all the latitude and longitude lines for North America were based. This datum is being replaced by the North American Datum of 1983, which is not hinged to a single point of reference.