Smack-dab mediocrity?


Did you know that the geographic center of the continental United States is located in Kansas near the city of Lebanon, approximately 12 miles south of the Kansas-Nebraska border? This is not to be confused with the geographical center of the entire United States which is located somewhere in North Dakota, if you take into account Alaska and Hawaii. Let’s stick with the contiguous states for the sake of argument though. Yup, the breadbasket of the United States; smack-dab in the center of the country in Kansas. If you ever visit the site and take a picture along side the historical marker there, the landscape is less than remarkable. It’s pretty much flat with a lot of fields growing a lot of corn from horizon to horizon. It’s the center of the U.S. though, so that gives it a remarkable enough pedigree to merit a sizable geographic marker.

I’ve always been intrigued by such things. The highest, deepest, driest, wettest, fastest, slowest, biggest, smallest, and so on. I guess that I’m into comparisons. When you’re able to put the extremes next to each other it gives you a real sense of scale, a grasp of “in-between,” a place where most of us dwell. Similarly, the inhabitants of Lebanon, Kansas, have been chosen to be the benign average of things geographically. The average distance to the Pacific is the same as that to the Atlantic. No one in Lebanon can say that they’re closer to one ocean or the other, since both are just as far from Lebanon. I guess living in Lebanon is all about averageness in many ways. Folks in California are as close as folks in New York. And, in a funny sort of way, that make Lebanon’s averageness something special since there is nowhere else in the contiguous United States that can claim what they own, s