When the center isn’t really the center

Michael Bushnell
Northeast News

Depending on whom you ask, the geographic center of the United States could be one of four different places, all in various midwestern states.

Kansas is home to at least two points of interest, both of which can lay a valid claim to being the geographic center of the lower 48 states.

For the sake of this week’s postcard, however, we’ll center our discussion on the Ogden Monument on the Fort Riley post near Junction City, Kansas.

The original monument was erected by a group of surveyors and engineers who were commissioned to establish a geographical center of the contiguous United States.

The monument commemorates the service of Major E. A. Ogden, who came to Fort Riley in 1855 and supervised the construction of some of the original buildings on the post.

Ogden, who was sent to the frontier outpost as part of the Army’s Quartermaster Department, was a well-seasoned veteran by the time he was sent to the then-fledgling outpost on the Kansas River.

Born in Oswego, New York, in February 1811, Ogden dreamed of a military career even in his youth.

He was appointed to the U.S Military Academy in 1827 and was commissioned as an infantry officer upon his graduation.

Serving at remote frontier posts over the next 20-odd years, Ogden saw combat during the Seminole War and the Canadian border disturbances in the late 1830s.

After the Mexican War, he transferred to the Quartermaster Department. During a cholera epidemic that swept the encampment in the summer of 1855, Ogden, along with 60 other civilians and soldiers, died from the disease.

The monument shown here stands near the Cavalry Museum at Fort Riley.

Another monument, roughly 60 miles to the north of the Ogden Monument, was originally erected in 1918 near Lebanon, Kansas, and also lays claim to being the geographic center of the contiguous United States.

This claim, verified by the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, was made by balancing a cardboard cutout of the “lower 48” on a pin atop a pole.

The balancing point (on the cardboard) was determined to be in a farmer’s field near Lebanon. Not wanting tourists tramping through his crops, the farmer requested the marker be moved roughly one-half mile to the west, where it now exists in a small park, complete with a chapel for those wishing to take their wedding vows in the center of the United States.

For the record, the geographic center of the 50 United States is located at a point near Belle Fourche, South Dakota, and is marked by a round brass marker embedded in a small piece of concrete off U.S. Highway 85.

It is, for the most part, invisible from the road.

Want Northeast News articles sent straight to your inbox each week? Subscribe below!
Enter your email address and click on the Get Instant Access button.
We respect your privacy

Comments are closed.

  • Thacher Elementary now rubble & memories

    January 15th, 2020

    Michael Bushnell Northeast News Luin Kennedy Thacher was born in Hornellsville, New York, and immigrated to the Kansas City area […]

    REMEMBER THIS? Dick and Jane

    January 15th, 2020

    Dorri Partain Northeast News Look, look, Dick can read. Look, look, Jane can read. Dick and Jane can read a […]

    Remember This? The Smiley Face

    January 8th, 2020

    Dorri Partain Northeast News A campaign to boost morale among insurance agency employees lead to the creation of the Smiley […]

    After political strife, KCK mayor creates fine architecture

    January 8th, 2020

    Michael Bushnell Northeast News The cornerstone of the Masonic Temple at 803 N. Seventh Street in Kansas City, Kansas, was […]

    Remember This? Wooden sleds with runners

    December 31st, 2019

    Dorri Partain Northeast News The kids will be dashing through the snow (next time the white stuff hits town) if […]

  • Upscale Baltimore Hotel hosted presidents

    December 31st, 2019

    Michael Bushnell Northeast News   Eccentric. That’s how many described noted turn-of-the-century Kansas City architect Louis S. Curtiss. A student […]

    Holy Rosary crib tradition a holiday classic

    December 25th, 2019

    Michael Bushnell Northeast News This real photo postcard of the Holy Rosary Church’s Christmas crib was taken during the 1941 […]

    Remember This? Squeeze Your Bippy Board Game

    December 25th, 2019

    Dorri Partain Northeast News You can bet your sweet bippy that Laugh-In fans wanted Santa to leave this game under […]

    Remember this? View Master

    December 18th, 2019

    Dorri Partain Northeast News A chance encounter inside a cave led to the development of this long-time favorite toy. Harold […]

    An Awful Sour Tale

    December 18th, 2019

    Michael Bushnell Northeast News This week’s historic postcard shows the Monarch Vinegar Works “immense plant” in Kansas City, Missouri. The […]

  • Faces Of Northeast

  • Postcard

  • Remember This?

    Remember This: Wind Up Toys

    December 11th, 2019

  • retorts illustrated by bryan stalder

  • Want articles sent directly to your inbox each week? Subscribe below!
    We respect your privacy and will not distribute your information.