Picnickers at the Geological Marker.

Exact Center of the Northern Half of the Western Hemisphere

Field review by the editors.

Poniatowski, Wisconsin

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."

Survey Marker.

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 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.

Update: According to tipster Bill Scheitzach, the original register from Gesicki's is among items to be found at the Convention and Visitors Bureau in nearby Stevens Point, Wisconsin. 2019 Update: the stylish wood carved sign is gone, replaced by an easy-to-replace printed sign.

Also see: When Halfway is Far Enough

Exact Center of the Northern Half of the Western Hemisphere

5651 Meridian Rd, Poniatowski, WI
FROM WEST: Hwy 29 exit 145 (Hwy 97). North two miles, then right on Spruce Lane. Drive a little over three miles, then left on Meridian Rd. The marker is about two miles up this road, about 1/4 mile past Cherry Lane (Hwy U), on the right, in a little fenced-in rectangle. FROM EAST: Hwy 29 exit 151 (Hwy H). North two miles, then make the third left onto Cherry Lane (Hwy U). Go through the "town" of Poniatowski, then right on Meridian Rd. Marker is about 1/4 mile up road, in a little fenced-in rectangle.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Chicken Holding Burger, BeerChicken Holding Burger, Beer, Merrill, WI - 14 mi.
Ice Cream ConeIce Cream Cone, Abbotsford, WI - 16 mi.
Boy and the BootBoy and the Boot, Wausau, WI - 19 mi.
In the region:
Rocks for Fun Cafe, Tigerton, WI - 49 mi.

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July 8, 2020

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