Geographic Center of the Lower 48 United States, Kansas
The Geographic Center of the Lower 48 States is located north of Lebanon, Kansas. It was determined by finding the center of gravity for the contiguous United States, that is, the point at which a plane map of the 48 states would balance if it were of uniform thickness. A monument was erected in an opening ceremony on June 29, 1941, in Lebanon, Kansas, for what was then the Geographic Center of the entire country, before Alaska and Hawaii joined the union. As early as 1918, this point was identified when the United States Geological Survey located the country’s center at N 39° 50' 00" W 98° 35' 00". For many years, however, the towns of Fort Riley, Smith Center, and Junction City contended for the claim to be center of the United States, as no official designation existed. The latitude and longitude determined by the survey provided the location of the center within an approximate one-mile radius; and while the monument sits at the end of Kansas Highway 191 (the shortest highway in the state), the precise center is located in a field 3/4 of a mile to the northwest. Coinciding with the establishment of the monument, residents of Lebanon founded the Hub Club to develop the site for tourism, and the Club continues its maintenance and beautification role to this day. At one time, a motel, coffee shop, and souvenir shop served thousands of annual visitors to the site. Today, visitors to the monument at the Geographic Center find a small chapel, a shaded picnic table, a large monument, and the closed motel.