Picnickers at the Geological Marker.

Exact Center of the Northern Half of the Western Hemisphere

Field review by the editors.

Poniatowski, Wisconsin

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 1969 John Gesicki, owner of Gesicki's 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. According to Roadside tipster Bill Scheitzach, the original register from Gesicki's can be found at the Convention and Visitors Bureau in nearby Stevens Point.

The little button of a survey marker is still in the ground, centered within a concrete cross-hairs pinpoint platter built in 2017 for sprawl-worthy hemisphere-cleaving photos. It's in a fenced-in plot of land -- Wisconsin's smallest county park -- surrounded by farm fields. A sign at the center notes that there are only four of these 45 x 90 sites on Earth, and that this one is "the most accessible." Another sign suggests that this center was mapped using a "professional grade" GPS, accurate to within a fraction of an inch.

The spot is 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 this Center's heady days of yore. "Yeah, we really should do something like that..." said the lady in curlers behind the bar, but it seemed unlikely.

Exact Center of the Northern Half of the Western Hemisphere

Address:
5651 Meridian Rd, Poniatowski, WI
Directions:
WI-29 exit 145, Drive north on WI-97 for four miles. Turn right onto Hwy M. Drive three miles. Turn left onto Hwy U. Drive one mile. Turn left onto Meridian Rd. Drive a third of a mile to the Center pull-off, on the right.
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.
Jurustic ParkJurustic Park, Marshfield, WI - 20 mi.
In the region:
World's Largest Round Barn, Marshfield, WI - 25 mi.

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