How did people survive without smartphones and the Internet? My daughter was thrilled that our plan is to return to the Seattle area. A number of times she has commented about how long it would take us to get back to Seattle from our various check-ins. As Leslie was driving thru Arkansas, she wondered where the center of the United States was – since we were traveling from far southeast to far northwest. Well given smartphones and the Internet, I was quickly able to determine that it was just outside of Lebanon, Kansas.
Since we were going to Abilene, Kansas to visit another Presidential Library, and since we have visited the southernmost point, we knew we needed to stop.
According to Wikipedia – “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.” That is considered the center of the contiguous United States, the geographic center of the entire United States is Belle Fourche, South Dakota
The center is really out in the middle of nowhere. The town of Lebanon is small and looks like it has seen better days, and then the center of the US is not really in Lebanon – but in a field outside of Lebanon. It is a nice little area that I am guessing does not really attract many people (there was a father and some kids playing when we got there). There are a couple of monuments and a little picnic area.
There is also a 4 (yes 4) seat chapel where couples can take their wedding vows.
There is a closed up motel for those that wanted to stay in the center of nowhere in years gone by.
FYI – According to Wikipedia, for the conterminous United States – the northernmost incorporated point is Sumas, Washington; the westernmost point is Cape Alava, Washington; the westernmost incorporated point is Port Orford, Oregon.
We also learned a new word – conterminous – sharing a common boundary (it is a synonym for contiguous).
During our travels we like to stop in the state Welcome Centers if possible. They always have information on interesting things to do and see in the state. If we have not stopped in the one for Kansas, we would never have known about the Largest Ball of Twine.
Cawker, Kansas is home to the largest ball of sisal twine built by a community. The ball got rolling (sorry) back in 1953 when Frank Stoeber started collecting twine and rolling it into a ball. In 4 years the ball had grown to 8 foot in diameter. Stoeber gave the ball to the town of and it now sits in an open air gazebo and every August townsfolk come together in a Twine-a-thon to celebrate the ball of twine and add to it. By 2006 the ball reached a circumference of over 40 feet. All we can say is “It’s a huge ball of twine.”
When your town is home to something as amazing and significant as the largest community built ball of sisal twine, the town must celebrate it in many ways. The businesses up and down Main Street celebrate the accomplishment by proudly displaying painting in their windows that showcase the famous ball. Some of the paintings are originals, but many show the works of the great masters could have been improved by the addition of ball of twine. Of course you can follow the yellow twine string painted on the sidewalk to see all the pictures.
That was enough excitement (and driving) for one day.