About the Monument

dedicationOn August 21, 2007, the Belle Fourche Chamber of Commerce and the Center of the Nation Planning Committee unveiled a new monument to designate and celebrate Belle Fourche, South Dakota as the Geographic Center of the United States.

The 21-foot diameter structure is made of etched South Dakota granite with a 12-inch bronze marker from the National Geodetic Survey. The Monument is located at the Tri-State Museum and Visitor Center.

Read the article from the New York Times on July 4, 2007.

How did Belle Fourche receive the honor of being the Geographical Center of the Nation?

According to the National Geodetic Survey, determining the geographic center of an irregular area on the earth’s surface is a precarious business at best. There is no unique solution and none of any scientific significance.” Several methods of approach are available. The one employed by the National Geodetic Survey is probably best termed as the center-of-gravity method.

Imagine a map of the area of which the geographic center is to be determined, has been placed on a piece of cardboard of uniform thickness and that this is cut carefully along the outline of the map. The center of gravity of this map outline, or what might be called the geographic center, is that point at which the map will balance.

If Belle Fourche is the Geographic Center of the Nation what is in Lebanon, KS?

Lebanon, KS is the center of the 48 conterminous states. Rugby, ND is the center of North America.

How do you get to the actual geographic center of the nation?

To drive to the actual geographic center of the nation, one needs to drive 13 miles on HWY 85 north from the intersection of HWY 85 and 212. Turn left onto Old HWY 85 (look for a small blue sign with white lettering) and drive 7.8 miles until you see a barn on your left hand side. One the right hand side of the road you will see a small sign in red white and blue telling you that you have reached the Center of the Nation. Looking into the pasture, you will see a US Flag flying freely. Feel free to park and climb through the barb wire fence and make the short walk out to the location…make sure to watch for cow pies and snakes! At the location you will see the survey marker highlighting the “Center of the Nation”.

Why is the new “Center of the Nation” Monument located at the visitor’s center?

The actual geographic center of the nation is located on private property. While the rancher does allow people to experience the site, he does not want to develop the area. The National Geodetic Survey has designated Belle Fourche as the town closest to the actual site allowing Belle Fourche to have the monument in the town.