Center welcome sign, 2003. Lebanon has souvenirs.
Center welcome sign, 2003. Lebanon has souvenirs.

Geographical Center of the 48 States

Field review by the editors.

Lebanon, Kansas

The Geographical Center of the 48 States is marked by a seven-foot-high rock monument topped with a flagpole flying the USA and Kansas flags. A bronze plaque on the monument states that it was erected by the Lebanon Hub Club on April 25, 1940. The monument is flanked by several park benches, a picnic shelter, and a tiny church -- the "U.S. Center Chapel" -- that offers seating for six. A Christian cross nailed over a Lower 48 map painted like an American flag hangs below carved wooden letters: "Pray America." At the center of the cross, and the map, is a wooden heart.

Geographical Center of the 48 States monument.
Geographical Center of the 48 States monument.

A paved road, Kansas-191, dead-ends at the monument, which is surrounded by mostly treeless Kansas farm fields.

The Hub Club had been hastily formed in early 1940 for the purpose of erecting the monument, after Rand-McNally maps labeled that the Center was actually in Nebraska. A Kansas historical marker claims that the Center "has been officially established by the U.S. Geological Survey" (Note: the U.S. Geological Survey later said that it had done no such thing) and that it is "the point where a plane map of the 48 states would balance if it were of uniform thickness." Nit-pickers say that the Center is actually 2,270 feet northwest of the monument spot, but at least now there's general agreement that it's in Kansas.

Chapel: Pray America.

Although roughly 80-90 miles off of the interstates (I-70 or I-80), the Center has drawn us, seeking national equilibrium since our first visit in 1985, over and over. We always seemed to have this site to ourselves -- the monument, the open church -- while tractors criss-crossed the rural horizon.

That low traffic obscurity ended, at least temporarily, in the wake of the chapel's pivotal appearance in Bruce Springsteen's 2021 Super Bowl Jeep commercial as the "Center of the Re-United States of America." Unfortunately for Kansas, the Kansas City Chiefs -- just across the state line in Missouri -- were blown out in the 2021 Super Bowl. Bruce might have done better to pick America's other unifying rockpile, victorious Florida's Monument of States.

Geographical Center of the 48 States

Address:
Hwy 191, Lebanon, KS
Directions:
The U.S. Center monument is northwest of town on Hwy 191, three miles north of US Hwy 36, and one mile west of US Hwy 281.
RA Rates:
Major Fun
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Mini Statue of LibertyMini Statue of Liberty, Gaylord, KS - 18 mi.
Home on the RangeHome on the Range, Athol, KS - 20 mi.
Mini-Motel in 1930s Gas StationMini-Motel in 1930s Gas Station, Cawker City, KS - 23 mi.
In the region:
German POW Urinal, Minden, NE - 51 mi.

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