The geographic center of the contiguous United States is the center of 48 U.S. states. It has been regarded as such by the U.S. National Geodetic Survey (NGS) since the 1912 additions of New Mexico and Arizona to the United States.
Its position as located in a 1918 survey is located at 39°50′N 98°35′W / 39.833°N 98.583°W / 39.833; -98.583 (Geographic Center of the Contiguous United States), about 2.6 miles (4.2 km) northwest of the center of Lebanon, Kansas, approximately 12 miles south of the Kansas-Nebraska border.
While any measurement of the exact center of a land mass will always be imprecise due to changing shorelines and other factors, the NGS coordinates are recognized in a historical marker in a small park at the intersection of AA Road and K-191. It is accessible by a turn-off from U.S. Route 281.
It is distinct from the geographic center of the United States, which reflects the 1959 additions of the states of Alaska and Hawaii, which is located at a point northeast of Belle Fourche, South Dakota.
In order to protect the privacy of the private land owner where the point identified by the 1918 survey falls, a proxy marker was erected in 1940 some half a mile away.
Its inscription reads:
- The GEOGRAPHIC CENTER of the UNITED STATES
- LAT. 39°50' LONG. -98°35'
- NE 1/4 - SE 1/4 - S32 - T2S - R11W
- Located by L.T. Hagadorn of Paulette & Wilson - Engineers and L.A. Beardslee - County Engineer. From data furnished by U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey.
- Sponsored by Lebanon Hub Club. Lebanon, Kansas. April 25, 1940
An American flag usually flies atop a pole placed on the monument. A covered picnic area and small four-pew chapel are nearby.
Method of Measurement:
In 1918, the Coast and Geodetic Survey found this location by balancing on a point a cardboard cutout shaped like the U.S. Although this method was only accurate to within twenty miles, and the Geodetic Survey no longer endorses any location as the center of the U.S., the identification of Lebanon has remained.