Geographic Center of the Nation.

Center of the Nation Monument

Field review by the editors.

Belle Fourche, South Dakota

The center of America hasn't changed since August 21, 1959, when Hawaii became the 50th state. At some point shortly afterward, the center was marked with a small metal pole stuck into a pasture, off of a gravel road behind a ditch, 22 miles north of Belle Fourche, South Dakota.

It's still there, and tourists can still drive to it, but Belle Fourche thought that something as important as America's center needed a monument that was more memorable, as well as one that was more accessible.

So in 2008, on the anniversary of Hawaii's statehood, Belle Fourche dedicated its elaborate "Geographic Center of the Nation" monument. It's in town, behind the Visitor Center, close to major highways, parking lots, rest rooms, and the Belle Fourche Pizza Hut. Made of granite, it's designed in the shape of a giant compass, flat on the ground, with a map of the U.S. and Belle Fourche at its center, marked with an official-looking metal disk. Visitors instinctively understand that they should stand on the disk for photos, a you-are-standing-on-the-spot reaction pioneered by the monument at Four Corners.

Belle Fourche insists that its not trying to mislead anyone with its 22-miles-off-center Center, and indeed anyone visiting it during Visitor Center hours can get directions and a map to the real center, a 35-minute drive away.

Center of the Nation Monument

Address:
415 Fifth Ave., Belle Fourche, SD
Directions:
I-90 exit 10. US 85 north ten miles. A couple of blocks north of the railroad tracks at Faulk St., on the right, on the north side of the Visitor Information Center and Tri-State Museum.
Hours:
Tu-Sa 10-4 (Call to verify)
Phone:
605-723-1200
Admission:
Free. Museum: $2
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

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October 22, 2017

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