Exact Center of the Northern Half of the Western Hemisphere
Yea, this is just the kind of notch we like to have in our belts -- a visit to the "Exact Center of the Northern Half of the Western Hemisphere." It's in the town of Rietbrock, part of the larger township of Poniatowski.
Poniatowski is a church, a bar, and a couple of houses. In the early 1970s, John Gesicki, owner of Gesicki's General Store and Tavern, petitioned the U.S. Geological Survey to mark the exact halfway spot between the Equator and the North Pole AND between Greenwich Meridian and the International Date Line -- what GPS geeks refer to as a "confluence."
Gesicki then named Poniatowski "The Center of the Northwestern World" and established the "45 x 90 Club" at his bar. Visitors were encouraged to buy 45 x 90 Club t-shirts, bumper stickers, and post cards, and to sign the bar's guest register, which eventually overflowed with thousands of names.
John died in 1995. When his wife, Loretta, died in 2003, Gesicki's closed and the 45 x 90 Club was no more. But the little button of a survey marker is still in the ground, accompanied now by a big wooden sign within a small, square, fenced-in plot of land off of a dirt road -- "Meridian Road" -- surrounded by farm fields. It's not as unknown as one might think -- we ran into a couple of young picnickers there, jockeying for position over the survey marker.
At the T&C Pub in town -- the last surviving bar in Poniatowski -- a lone 45 x 90 Club bumper sticker is glued to the ceiling, a promotional relic from the heady days of yore. "Yeah, we really should do something like that..." said the lady in curlers behind the bar, but it seems unlikely.
Halfway just isn't enough for most people.